Lean Six Sigma DMAIC analysis may be applied to a vast array of process improvement opportunities. Participants are expected to work with their company sponsors to identify an appropriate project to practice and apply course concepts. DMAIC projects, at a minimum, should include:
- Identification of problem and quantitative assessment of current state of the process using a key performance indicator or process improvement metric (For example: yield or defect level, process or lead time, cost, % on-time delivery, etc.)
- Analysis of the problem using Lean Six Sigma tools and problem-solving methodologies
- Recommendations to improve the process
- Implementation results or at least evidence of the potential for improvement
- Improved patient satisfaction scores
- Reduction of office visit wait time
- Reduction of length of stay
- Improved conformance to operating procedures
- Increased staff or equipment utilization
- Improved operating room efficiency
- Reduced laboratory testing errors and inefficiencies
- Increased capacity
- Reduced manual billing corrections and errors
- Reduced insurance denials
DMAIC Project: Operating Room Efficiency
- Increased throughput
- Reduction of labor hours
- Reduced process and lead time
- Reduced downtime
- Increased equipment utilization
- Reduced maintenance costs
- Reduced inventory/increased floor space
- Reduced material handling time and labor hours
Conformance to Specifications
- Reduced rework and scrap
DMAIC Project: Maintenance Cost Reduction
- Improved customer satisfaction scores
- Improved lead time and order accuracy
- Improved call center response time and first-time resolution of issues
Internal Business Processes
- Improved request for quote process lead time and success rate
- Increased sales lead conversion rates
- Reduced process time for approval processes
- Reduced IT response and resolution time
- Reduced employee onboarding time and hours
- Reduced time/cost to prepare management reports
- Improved training effectiveness
- Reduced payroll errors
- Reduced overtime hours or resource imbalances
- Improved effectiveness of benefits programs
- Improved billing and financial reporting processes
- Reduced manual correction errors
DMAIC Project: Call Center Resolution
Project topics should meet the following guidelines:
- Be considered value-added by the candidate's organization (has supervisory pre-approval)
- Be completed within approximately a 3-6 month period
- Have sufficient data available to demonstrate use of course tools/methods
Candidates are welcome to contact the course instructors for content questions and project support. The instructors will provide support via e-mail, phone consultation, and/or online videoconferencing.
Candidates are provided a written report template with recommended report organization (e.g., title page, executive summary, problem definition, current state assessment, analysis and results, improvement recommendations, process control recommendations, conclusion, and appendices). The template also provides suggestions on grammatical style and ways to effectively present information. We also provide a separate PPT presentation template that may be helpful for internal presentations.
The University of Michigan considers certification an individual accomplishment and therefore prefers all participants complete their own project and written report. Still, we recognize that for some projects, participants will work in teams. Here, our preference is for individuals to provide separate reports where each participant works on a unique aspect of the problem and clearly distinguishes their contribution. We do recognize that some information (e.g., from Define or Measure phase) will appear in multiple reports.
In some instances, champions/supervisors may find it more appropriate to have participants work in teams on a particular problem and prepare a single high quality report versus two separate reports. For this situation, we request the following:
- Teams are limited to two candidates
- Written acknowledgement (e.g., email) from champion/supervisor that they approve of a team report
- The project is pre-approved as a team project by the University of Michigan (prior to starting)
- Of note, each candidate may be asked to provide a short description (e.g., 1-3 paragraphs) detailing their individual contribution to the report.
Black Belt case studies may be completed in teams of two to four candidates.
The University of Michigan recognizes information contained in reports may be sensitive or confidential. Although instructors do not share report information without consent, the University prefers that candidates avoid including any confidential information. For example, rather than discuss actual cost savings, candidates may discuss improvement in percentage terms, or they might quantify their projects by indicating a 10% cost reduction as opposed to an actual dollar amount savings.
Participants should select a project from their workplace. If unable to find a work project, participants may use a University of Michigan Green Belt Case Study.
For participants between jobs, the University of Michigan offers the following option for certification at the Black Belt Level in place of an industry project requirement:
- Completion of University of Michigan simulated project including full DMAIC written case study report
- Signed affidavit from a past supervisor/manager that you have at least three years of experience applying methods/tools with the Six Sigma 'Body of Knowledge' (Participants should specifically list Six Sigma Tools based on the course topic outline)
- Signed affidavit from a past supervisor/manager that you have successfully led at least one continuous improvement project (using the Six Sigma DMAIC methodology is NOT a requirement) with a measurable improvement in quality conformance, capacity, cost, revenue, or lead-time/process time. As part of this affidavit, participants should include a brief description of their project, their approach used toward improving the process, and a summary of key findings.