Are there general guidelines or target durations for each phase of DMAIC?
Knowing that we have fruit salad in our portfolio – apples, oranges, grapes, melons, plus 10 more – are there recommendations on how to generate meaningful guidelines for duration where trying to categorize a project may have a considerable number of characteristics and be quite different?
Duration is a good metric but in the operational definition you need to add a complexity component. You are seeing what happens when it is not added. I have defined complexity as the number of groups/departments that need to be engaged in the project. A simple example is when IT gets involved, there may be some additional time lags that need to be added so they can do their due diligence. Likewise if you have a project that involves finance or legal, it will add time to the project. Organization wide projects take more time than departmental ones so when scoping a project, consider how much longer it will take with more groups needed to be involved. This may help in your estimates and tracking.
As for general guidelines for DMAIC, what I have told executives and belt candidates is that Define should take about 3 weeks, Measure about 8 -12 weeks (depending on how good your data is). Analyze 3-4 weeks, depending on complexity and that you have data flowing consistently. Improve 3-4 weeks depending how quickly you can get the improvement in place, training completed, and process stabilized. Control is generally 4 weeks, just to make sure that everything is running as expected and you can show the magnitude of the improvement.
These are mine but it all depends on the Measure phase and getting the baseline well defined and data flowing. That is the most critical phase in DMAIC and shortcuts there will impact the project.
I hope this helps.
Sr Performance Improvement Specialist
Fort Worth, TX