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DMAIC vs PDCA: The Right Choice for Run and Change in Operational Excellence

At Totus Consultancy we are at the cutting edge of (ICT) innovation and (process) optimization. In the pursuit of operational excellence, many methods are presented that can contribute to continuous improvement. Two prominent methods that emerge in this context are DMAIC and PDCA. Both have their unique advantages, but when should you use which method? In this blog we dive into the distinction between DMAIC and PDCA and explore how each can best be used in different organizational contexts.

Totus Consultancy
Operational Excellence

DMAIC: The Hub of Daily Operations

Derived from the Lean Six Sigma methodology, DMAIC is an acronym for Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control. It provides a structured approach to problem solving and process improvement:

  • Define: Define the problem and project goals.

  • Measure: Collect relevant data about the current process.

  • Analyze: Examine the data to find the cause of the problem.

  • Improve: Implement and verify the solution.

  • Control: Monitor the process to ensure improvements are maintained.

DMAIC is ideally suited for the "run", i.e. the daily operations of an organization. It focuses on optimizing existing processes and ensuring consistency and quality.

PDCA: Driving Force behind Innovation

PDCA, which stands for Plan, Do, Check, Act, is an iterative four-step model for continuous improvement:

  • Plan: Identify an opportunity and plan the change.

  • Do (Execute): Implement the change on a small scale.

  • Check: Review the results and learn from the trial.

  • Act (Action): Based on the results, apply the change on a broader scale or start the cycle again.

Originally introduced by Walter Shewhart and later popularized by W. Edwards Deming, the PDCA cycle has become a fundamental tool in quality management. Although it does not come directly from Lean-Agile methodology, it has common ground with Lean principles and is often applied in Lean environments to promote continuous improvement. PDCA is particularly suitable for "change", the innovative change processes within organizations, because it enables companies to quickly make adjustments, learn from results and then iterate.

Run vs. Change: Which Approach When?While DMAIC enables in-depth analysis and optimization of existing processes, PDCA enables organizations to quickly respond to changing circumstances and seize new opportunities. For organizations looking to streamline their daily operations and address inefficiencies, DMAIC is the method of choice. On the other hand, for projects that focus on innovation, transformation and exploring new possibilities, PDCA offers a more flexible framework.Totus Consultancy is positioned to guide organizations in both their daily operations and their innovation initiatives. By embracing both DMAIC and PDCA, we help companies get the best of both worlds: stability in the present and agility for the future.


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