In business, running into problems is inevitable. Even with the best possible planning, dealing with challenges is a part of the job description. It’s how you solve those problems that will determine your success.
A company’s approach to problem-solving should be systematic and strategic. Here’s how you can use the DMAIC method to streamline and enhance your problem-solving strategies.
What is DMAIC?
DMAIC is the Six Sigma approach to strategic problem solving, providing a step-by-step plan for identifying and correcting an issue.
‘’Creating a roadmap through using the DMAIC methodology is an easy-to-follow template that many businesses and organizations use in getting started’’, says Six Sigma Founder and Managing Partner, Peter Peterka.
DMAIC is an acronym for define, measure, analyze, improve, and control. You can learn more about Six Sigma, and how DMAIC plays into the core principles of this world-renowned set of methodologies. But first, let’s take a look at how you can use DMAIC in your business.
Before you can work to solve a problem, you must first have an in-depth understanding of what that problem is and how it’s impacting your business. When you define the problem, it won’t just be a simple statement that gives a high-level overview of an issue; it will be a multi-faceted description of the problem and how it impacts the overall business.
For example, at a glance, the problem you’re trying to solve might be friction in your customer checkout process online. However, the real problem is not just that there’s friction, but that it’s causing frustration to your customer, reducing the number of completed transactions, increasing the number of abandoned carts, and ultimately limiting your revenue. From that initial definition, you’ll start to develop an idea of what changes need to be made to improve the problem.
After you define the problem, you need to measure its impact. To do so, you’ll need to collect data that identifies the root of the issue and where the primary focus should be.
Using the example given above with customer friction in an online portal, the first thing to measure is where customers are bouncing from your site. This data point tells you where the focal point for improvements should be.
Once you have the data collected regarding the cause of your problem, you need to analyze it to understand better where the opportunity lies. During this phase, you’ll take out the guesswork and confirm not only the root cause of the problem but what steps need to be taken to improve it.
During the analyze phase, you might determine that customers are experiencing the most friction when it comes time to look at their cart and complete the transaction. Using the data available and conducting further research, you determine that it’s hard to find the cart review button on your website. Therein lies your opportunity for improvement.
Don’t make the mistake of rushing through this critical phase. Take your time to ensure you understand what the data is telling you, as it’s the core element of your problem-solving strategy.
During the ‘improve’ phase, you implement a plan based on your analysis that solves the problem you’re facing. The solution should be implemented in a series of measurable steps, with key performance metrics identified as you go.
For the hard-to-find shopping cart, the team might decide that the best course of action is to change the design elements of the website that connect to the transaction page. A timeline will be created for designing a new website flow and updating the elements to make the shopping cart button more apparent to potential customers.
During the Control phase, you use the performance metrics identified earlier to ensure that your solution has the desired results. Using this data, you’ll determine if the problem is solved or if there is room for future improvement.
Using the website example, you might find that the change in design has resulted in a 25% increase in conversions. Problem solved.
By implementing the DMAIC method of problem-solving, you can create a process-driven approach to growing your business in a competitive market.