8D and DMAIC Problem Solving


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8D and DMAIC Problem Solving


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What You Need to Know About 8D and DMAIC Problem-Solving

What is the Difference Between 8D and DMAIC?

One of the most frequent questions we get from people new to Quality Improvement:  What in the heck is the difference between 8D and DMAIC problem-solving methods?

First let's talk about what the similarities are between 8D and DMAIC.  Both are step-by-step problem-solving methods.  The 8D Problem-Solving approach has...you guessed it...8 steps!  DMAIC has just five phases, but they happen to make up the acronym DMAIC - Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control. 

OK, so what are the differences between 8D and DMAIC?  There are probably people who would argue that there are LOTS of differences between the two.  But, as we see it, the biggest difference is in Step 3 of the 8D process:  Implement and Verify Interim Containment.  There is not a comparable explicit step in the DMAIC process.  One downside to Interim Containment is that it can give you a false sense that the problem is solved and that you can move onto the next problem.  Interim Containment is typically a quick and dirty band aid approach to addressing the symptoms of a problem and not the root cause.  But, the reality is that if a business problem is serious enough, it merits a band aid to "stop the bleeding."  Then it is up to the team to complete the rest of the 8D process including removing the "band-aid" once the root cause is found and addressed.

Which is Best?  8D or DMAIC?

So, which method is best?  Some would swear by 8D while others would swear by DMAIC.  Our thoughts are: 

  • Both processes can generate huge improvements for an organization.
  • Anything is better than nothing.
  • Pick one approach or the other or select from one of the many other structured problem-solving approaches that focus on data collection, data analysis, and prevention of recurrence. 
  • Stick with the same approach throughout a corporation to build a common understanding of the process and terminology throughout the organization.
  • If necessary, alter the process to meet your organization's needs, but don't cut out any of the steps in either process - they are critical to getting to the root cause of a problem.

Because many of the core elements of problem-solving are the same, much of the information you find here will work regardless of the specific problem-solving process.

Problem-Solving Resources

Data Collection & Organization Tools

Data Display & Analysis Tools

Decision-Making Techniques

General Improvement Tools

Process Mapping Tools

Project Management Tools

Statistical Tools & Techniques

Problem-Solving Forms and Checklists










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