Define Phase In DMAIC

Define Phase Introduction


To have the team and its sponsor reach agreement on the scope, goals, and financial and performance targets for the project

What you need before you start

  • First draft of project charter from sponsor(s)
  • Resource allocation (time of team members, initial budget)


  1. A completed project charter (covering the problem statement, business impact, goals, scope, timeline, defined team)
  2. Documentation showing what customers (internal and external) are or will be affected by this project and what their needs are
  3. High-level process map(s), at least a SIPOC diagram
  4. Completed project plans. Requirements will vary by company but often include Gantt charts; stakeholder analysis; resistance analysis; risk analysis; action logs, responsibility assignments, and communication plans.
  5. Outcomes from the project launch meeting showing team consensus around project purpose, charter, deliverables, and team responsibilities 

Key steps in Define

  1. Review project charter. Have your team discuss the draft charter from sponsors. Get answers to questions. Negotiate compromises or adjustments to scope, resources, timing, team membership as needed.
  2. Validate problem statement and goals. Review existing data or other sources of information to confirm that the problem you’ve been given…
    • Exists
    • Is important to customers (collect the Voice of the Customer)
    • Is important to the business (collect Voice of the Business information)
    • Can reasonably be expected to be improved using Lean Six Sigma (DMAIC) methodologies
  3. Validate financial benefits. Use existing data to calculate current costs, profits, margins, or other financial metrics relevant to your project. Estimate the financial impact if you achieve the project goal, and verify that it meets management expectations.
  4. Create/validate process map and scope. Document the main steps of the process (with a SIPOC diagram) to verify project scope; see if data exists to provide baseline measures on time, defects/errors, rework, etc., for a value stream map.
  5. Create communication plan. Identify project participants and stakeholders (sponsors, customers, managers, process operators, etc.) and develop plans for keeping them informed about and/or involved in the project.
  6. Develop project plans (schedule, budget, milestones).
  7. Complete the Define gate review.

Gate review checklist for Define

  1. An updated Project Charter
    • Problem Statement detailing when the problem has been seen, what the problem is, the magnitude of the problem, and the impact or consequence of the problem (such as effect on customer Critical-to-Quality expectations). Make sure the problem statement focuses on symptoms only (not on causes or solutions).
    • Key stakeholders: Who are they? How will they be involved in the project? How will progress be communicated to them?
    • Business Impact reflecting expected financial benefits and assumptions.
    • Goal Statement clearly identifying the key output metric (Y) to be improved.
    • Verification of Project Scope: broad enough to achieve the project objectives yet narrow enough to be completed within the Project Plan timeframe.
    • High-level Project Plan showing the targeted completion date for the project and intermediate milestones.
    • List of team members representing key stakeholders, appropriate mix of skills, and knowledge (especially about the current process).
  2. Documentation on your customer knowledge
    • Primary external and internal customers identified
    • Voice of the Customer gathered
    • Customer needs evaluated for priority and importance (through Kano analysis)
    • Ability to measure customer requirements
  3. A high-level process map and/or SIPOC 
    • High-level map showing major steps or activities (details will come in Measure)
    • SIPOC map completed to identify key Suppliers, Inputs, Process boundaries, Outputs, Customers (should demonstrate that the process boundaries align with the project goals)
    • Key process output variables (KPOVs) such as time, quality, and cost metrics (to show process links to project goals)
    • Optional: Key data on time, delays, queues, defects—if you don’t gather these data here, you’ll be collecting them in Measure
  4. Detailed Project Management plans
    • More detailed schedule of activities, especially for Measure (using a Gantt chart, for example)
    • List of stakeholders who will be impacted by the project, and their expectations and concerns
    • Communications Plan for the identified stakeholders and their concerns
    • Risk management plans
    • Identification of barriers/obstacles that could hinder the team (will likely require help from the Black Belt and sponsors to overcome these barriers)


  1. […] via Define Phase In DMAIC — THE SIGMA ANALYTICS […]



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