Introduction to DMAIC Tollgate Checklist:


The DMAIC Tollgate Checklist is a great way to guide your improvement efforts. If you're new to process improvement, here is some helpful info.

What's DMAIC? DMAIC is a five-step method for improving existing problems with unknown causes. It's part of the Six Sigma system of continuous improvement that was developed by Bill Smith and Mikel Harry of Motorola during the 1980s. Like other process improvement methods it follows the Scientific Method but puts an emphasis on using data to get to the root of process issues.

DMAIC stands for:

  • Define: Define the problem
  • Measure: Quantify the problem
  • Analyze: Identify the cause of the problem
  • Improve: Solve the root cause and verify improvement
  • Control: Maintain the gains and pursue perfection

DMAIC is best for the following types of issues:

  • Existing process problems with unknown causes
  • Process issues that delay products and services
  • Processes that are not meeting customer requirements
  • Processes that are producing defective products and services
  • Processes overburdened with rework
  • Processes that result in customer complaints

You can use the checklist to guide your improvement project, you can mine each task to download helpful templates, and you can watch the embedded videos for some deep dives on how to overcome common challenges.

Some tips on using the template:

  • The list on the left represents the tasks to be completed for a DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve & Control) process improvement project
  • You can change the checklist name if you like (double click the "Shared Checklist" name)
  • It's a good idea to bookmark this link so it's easy to come back to
  • Completing all the tasks will complete the checklist..and your project!
  • If you'd like your own Process Street account, you can set up a trial access for free


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Conduct an 8 Wastes Assessment

Use the 8 Wastes Check Sheet Template as a way to hunt for potential improvement efforts. You'll probably find a few Quick Wins while you're at it!

Find at least one process improvement opportunity

Use the Project Selection Guide to determine if you've got a good potential project.

Enlist a Project Champion/Sponsor who will support you and the project

A Champion is someone in a leadership position who can support you and help you find the resources you need for your project.

Below is a great webinar to share with leaders if you're looking for support. It helps when you're looking for a Sponsor!

Familiarize yourself with the DMAIC Roadmap

If you'd like more information on DMAIC, check out the introductory webinar below:

Use the Project Builder as an all-in-one Excel project document if you like one-stop shopping. All the key templates, examples and use tips are in this one package.

Define Phase:

Define is the first phase of the DMAIC method, and involves defining the problem or opportunity, determining the voice of the customer/customer requirements, and outlining the project purpose/scope.

This foundational phase paves the way for an improvement team to narrow and describe exactly what is being targeted for improvement. The goal(s) set during this phase define when a project can be considered successful.

Complete the elements of the Project Charter

Use Project Charter Template to draft your problem, goal, scope, team and high-level plan.

Read this blog for tips on how to write a good Goal Statement. 

Use the Goal Statement Builder to guide you through the process.

Collect the Voice of the Customer and make Customer Requirements measurable

Use the Voice of the Customer Translation Template to determine how to measure what your customer truly wants out of the product or service produced by the process.

Conduct a Process (Gemba) Walk of the process being addressed

Use the Process (Gemba) Walk Interview Guide as a format for each interview during the walk. It's a great way to surface problems and get to know the people who work in the process.

Watch this video so you're prepared to conduct your Process Walk.

Create a high-level and a detailed map of the current state

Use the SIPOC Template (Suppliers, Inputs, Process, Outputs, Suppliers) to build your high-level map.

Use the Swimlane Map Template to draft a detailed map of the part of the process you'd like to study.

Update Charter and inform Stakeholders

Use the Stakeholder Analysis Template to consider who might be impacted by the improvement effort and how best to involve or consult with them.

Use the Communication Plan Template to plot out what information to send out, who to send it to, what venue to use and when to do it.

Measure Phase:

The Measure Phase is the second phase of the DMAIC process. During this phase the effort is to determine key ways to measure the process, define each of the key measures and then form a plan to detail who will collect the data, in what quantity and where. This data used as a baseline of for the process and is then displayed and studied in the Analyze Phase.

Select baseline measurements

Use the Operational Definitions Template to figure out exactly what measurements you need and how to describe them in such a way the everyone knows what to collect.

Develop a Data Collection Plan with Operational Definitions and create Check Sheets as needed

Use the Data Collection Plan Template to think through exactly which data to collect and how to collect it.

Watch this video to get a handle on what it takes to do a good job collecting data.

Collect the Baseline Data

Use the Control Chart Template to enter in your process data to display the baseline capability of the process.

Update Charter and inform Stakeholders

Use the Project Charter Template and the Communication Plan Template to continually update everyone involved in and around the project. Spread the news!

Analyze Phase:

The Analyze Phase is the third phase of the DMAIC process, and focuses on identifying the root cause (or causes) of a process problem.

The Analyze Phase requires data and knowledge gleaned from the previous Define and Measure phases of DMAIC. This phase focuses on analysis of the data and the process. In terms of the data focus, statistical analysis is a cornerstone of Analyze, ensuring that potential root causes are not only validated but significant enough to merit attention. Methods and tools used include Process Maps, Charts and Graphs, Hypothesis Testing, and Value-Added Analysis.

Identify potential root causes using Process Analysis, Data Analysis, Fishbone Diagrams, 5 Whys, etc.

Use the Fishbone Diagram Template to collect all the clues to what might be causing the process problem. Keep adding to it since it's a "living" document.

Watch the following video for tips on how to make the most out of the Fishbone Diagram.

Develop root cause hypotheses

Use the results of the 5 Whys to come up with a few educated guesses about what's causing the process problem.

Collect data, assess facts and observe the process to prove or disprove root cause hypotheses

Work through the Root Cause Hypothesis Confirmation Template to prove or disprove each theory. 

Read this blog to help you "find the smoking gun" of potential root causes.

Update your Charter and inform Stakeholders

Use the Communication Plan to keep your Stakeholders informed.

Improve Phase:

The Improve Phase is the fourth phase of the DMAIC process and focuses on identifying opportunities for improvement based on the discoveries uncovered in the data and the process in the Analyze Phase. Once potential solutions are identified, the are evaluated and selected for implementation. Risk assessment, piloting and verification that the changes had the desired impact take place prior to moving on to the Control Phase.

Use team brainstorming to generate solutions that address the root causes

Select and develop solutions

Use the Solution Selection Matrix Template to assess your potential solutions and determine which ones are worth implementing.

Pilot solutions if needed and plan for implementation

Use the Implementation Plan Template to list action steps, assign people to carry out the changes to the process and dates to indicate when it should all take place.

Implement solutions to address root causes

Use the Failure Modes and Effects (FMEA) Template to think through potential unintended consequences.

Watch this video on how to use the Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA) to plan ahead and avoid potential problems.

Verify that solutions improved the process "Y"

Use the Control Chart Template to display post-implementation process data to prove whether or not the solution made a difference.

Control Phase:

The Control Phase is the last phase of DMAIC, and ensures that improved processes continue to work predictably and meet the customers’ expectations. In short, Control ensures any gains are maintained.

During this phase the documentation is finalized, monitoring plans are put into place and response plans are designed in the case that process performance falls below acceptable levels.

Create a system and/or process to monitor the results

Use the Monitoring and Response Plan Template to determine which measures to keep tracking and what to do if the process starts to "slip."

Complete documentation of the processes and procedures

Use the Green Belt Project Storyboard Template to capture the "story" of the problem, discovery, solution and resolution of the improvement effort. It's a great way to spread the good news about continuous improvement.

Check out the Visual Management Checklist since it helps put visuals in place to keep the new process visible and easy to follow.

Create Response Plans in case there is a drop in performance

Use the Control Chart Template to monitor the newly improved process and determine whether or not you're able to hold on to the gains.

Hand over formal ownership to the Process Owner

Use the Project Closure Template to get formal sign-offs from leadership and make the hard and soft gains of the project clear to everyone. Time to celebrate!

Determine the next process improvement focus

Use the Executive Summary of the project to provide leadership and Stakeholders with a one-page summary of the project. It's a good launch point for considering the next improvement focus. Time to pursue perfection!


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