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Scope Management in DMAIC Project

Vishwadeep Khatri

Message added by Mayank Gupta,

Scope defines the boundaries in a change initiative or it defines the deliverables and outcomes in a new business initiative. It provides a detailed view of the inclusions and exclusions along with the start and the end points and hence helps the project team stay focused on the objective.


DMAIC - is a data driven incremental process improvement methodology in the Six Sigma philosophy. It is an acronym which stands for

D - Define
M - Measure
A - Analyse
I - Improve
C - Control


An application-oriented question on the topic along with responses can be seen below. The best answer was provided by Mohammad Mahmudul Hassan on 14th Sep 2021.


Applause for all the respondents - Abhishek Chaudhary, Varuna Kakathkar, Mokshesh, Mohammad Mahmudul Hassan, Swarandeep Kaur Juneja, Meenakshi Iyer.


Q 400. Upto which Phase of D-M-A-I-C, should we allow a change in the project scope? Provide reasons for your answer This question is inspired by a recent question by Wg Cdr CV Satish on Benchmark Six Sigma Linkedin Page. 

For this question, the reason (justification) for your answer is going to be most important.  


Note for website visitors - Two questions are asked every week on this platform. One on Tuesday and the other on Friday.

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The purpose and scope of DMAIC project:

By implementing the DMAIC Six Sigma methodology, an organization can enhance the efficiency of their products, processes or services. The purpose of Define phase is to understand customer’s needs, identify the problems and opportunities for improvement in the current process and create high-level view of process. Project charter is created to officially start the project that authorizes to apply organizational resources to project activities by the project leader. It also provides direct link between project and strategic objectives of the organization. Project Charter ensures alignment by the stakeholders about the deliverables, milestones, roles responsibilities of everyone in the project.  When the project is approved and signed the project is officially authorized. The charter can have a long term impact on Six Sigma DMAIC projects ultimate success.  Project should focus on proper changes, right deliverables, on time accomplishment

Project scope is a vital part of the project charter in the Define phase of the DMAIC project. Scope describes the product, service, result boundaries and accepted criteria. Scope management is more concerned with defining and controlling what is included and what is not included in the project, the scope may include:

  • The start time and stop time often outlined in SIPOC diagram
  • The project duration
  • The process boundaries, within scope or out of scope
  • The sub processes involved
  • The locations such as   the states, the territories, the countries, continents

Necessity to Change in Scope:

Change request is a formal proposal to modify deliverables or baseline. When issues found when project is being performed then Change request can be raised. Project change request are needed when it is deemed necessary to change the scope of the DMAIC project. Most of the scope changes will affect the budget and schedule of the project. Project leader, sponsors, steering Committee and stakeholders with the standard process for managing changes.

Steps of Change approval:

1.       The Project Leader will make decisions to analyze to proceed with scope changes.

2.       Changing impact on scope will be forwarded to the Steering Committee for review. The Steering Committee will give input and suggestions to the Project Sponsor.

The Project Sponsor will make the final decision, based upon the information provided by the Project leader and the input of the Steering Committee          


Project Management Lifecycle & Six Sigma DMAIC methodology both are working on the principle of Plan-Do- Check-Act (PDCA) cycle.  In Project Management Life cycle allows to generate proper change requests initiating phase to control phase. Approved scope changes are controlled and ensured the project remains on schedule, within budget and provides the agreed deliverables to internal and external customer.

• Upon direction from the appropriate authority process change requests executed

• The impact of changes is communicated to appropriate personnel

• Small changes allowed to be managed with a minimum of overhead cost.

In conclusion, in DMAIC project allows to change & manage change (proper & justified) from Define through to Control in every phase of the DMAIC upon proper approval. Scope management with properly defining and controlling what is included and what is not included in the project is necessary to avoid unnecessary scope changes.


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We first start by defining project scope at Define phase and ideally it should be fixed there because then we move on to Measure phase and start collecting as-is process info based on the scope defined, followed by root cause analysis of the problem which is again based on the defined scope. While this is the expectation one must also remember that, ideal scenarios won’t hold true for most of the projects as during Measure and Analyze phase some unprecedented scenarios might show up which would demand change in scope of the project to achieve its final goal.


Let’s understand this better through examples –

Case Study – A project started in ABC Company to reduce annual rate of attrition. Project Scope considered only Accounts department and Voluntary (Resignations) + Involuntary (Terminations) attritions. 


Change in scope at Measure Phase – At Measure phase while collecting as-is process info project members discovered that involuntary attrition is insignificant as only 2 employees out of 500 in the whole year were terminated. Hence to focus Analysis on voluntary attritions only, scope was redefined and involuntary attritions were excluded.


Change in scope at Analyze Phase – At Analyze phase during Affinity it was discovered that Back-Outs (Candidates accept the offer letter but never join), is a major concern and a question was raised whether to add back-outs to attrition percentage which would reveal actual magnitude of the problem.

Data on back-outs was then collected from HR division and the count was added to attrition percentage. At this point it was mandatory to edit the scope as well and back-outs were added to the scope.


Conclusion – These examples clearly signify that change under exceptional situations can take place at Measure phase or Analyze phase.

It is important to note here that scope shouldn't be changed after Analyze phase and if changed during Measure or Analyze phase, this change shouldn't happen multiple times, or else project would be stuck in an endless loop and wouldn’t be able to reach its final objective.     

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Project Scope helps us in limiting the boundary of a project. Understanding the requirement of project helps in determining the scope of project.


Project Scope is formulated in Define phase of a DMAIC project, it contains the constraint of the project. However it can be changed later in different phases till Improve phase due to some of the below reasons in each phase.


Measure: In measure phase project scope can be changed due to different reasons, sometimes your baseline performance for defined scope does not justify the project and then maybe you have to change the scope for adding the data to your base line performance.


Analyse : In analyse phase if the analysis shows that some factors which are causing the issue lies outside of scope then you have to change the scope.


Improve: If solution is not effective or feasible sometimes then project scope can be altered in order to take better solution.



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One should allow scope change in DMAIC project till Measure phase.

Because chances may be there we have not considered/left some of the parameters while establishing a baseline for the project during defining the project in the define phase.

After defining the project,since in the define phase we are doing complete process mapping using SIPOC and top down charting,some of the important parameters may come into the picture while studying the detailed process and making value analysis. So we may give a chance to change the scope of the project till the initiation of data collection for the Measure phase.

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Scope change in DMAIC approach should be allowed up to Analyze phase. After define stage, both measure and analyze phase are exploratory in nature.


While measuring the current process performance and analyzing the critical X's impacting the Y, a project team may end up discovering additional insights about the overall process (including upstream and downstream process). It is therefore justifiable for a project team to alter the scope at these stages for successfully completing the project.

A need for change in scope at improve and control phase may arise in some scenarios. However, during such instances it is better to scrap the overall project and start afresh instead of continuing it under the pretext of scope change.

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Lean six sigma method is used to improve any metric/performance/process/business in a structured manner by eliminating the waste and/or reducing the variations. A systematic implementation of lean six sigma would lead to cultural change in the organization.

The selection of the method to improve depends upon the problem and its solution however all have same objective i.e eliminate waste and reduce variation






Direct improvement (Kaizen/Justo do it/5S)

(Minimum or no analysis/investigation required)




Customer satisfaction, Data, Self-identification

a)       Change in workplace setup/structure

b)      Change in process steps/instructions

c)       Change in system requirement of which is noticeable and easy to implement

d)      Change through visual management where issues/WIP cases are easily identifiable

Lean (Process map study, define opportunity, VSM Improve, Sustain) (If problem is due to process issue and process stability is not available)



Customer satisfaction, Data, Self-identification, Process study

a)       Check bottleneck and highlight through stability check

b)      Eliminate waste and implement pull

c)       Initiate continuous flow

Six Sigma (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) (If problem is due to process capability issue)



Customer satisfaction, Data, Self-identification Statistical proof, $ savings

a)       Check variations and reduce

b)      Improve process controls through statistical tools

Lean Six sigma (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) (If problem could be due to process as well as data)



Customer satisfaction, Data, Self-identification, process study, statistical proof, $ savings

a)       Check bottleneck and highlight through stability check

b)      Eliminate waste and implement pull


c)       Check variations and reduce

d)      Improve process controls through statistical tools

DMAIC is the most prominent structure used in continual improvement cycle.

DMADV is another structure where the phases D(Design) and V(Validate) indicates completely new solution

Before we look at the scope of the project it is very essential to funnel down the identified problem and finalize the Goal of the project such that the team is aware of the objective of the project and would look at accurate scoping hence, we have phases in six sigma with following objectives and deliverables (DMAIC)

D=Define (Plan for the project, Identify the team and stakeholder involved, create project charter-Business case, Problem and Goal statement, Project scope includes/Excludes, criticality of project)

M=Measure (Baseline measurement, collect data, create current process maps)- Process X (X1, X2, X3)

A= Analyze (Examine the process and statistically check the data, identify cause, and look for the potential solutions)

I=Improve (Implement, Pilot and validate the identified solution (y=f x)

C=Control (Check if implemented solutions are sustained, what are the benefits generated out of the improvement, approval of outcome, does it match our expectation from the Goal statement)

Following points to be looked at before selecting a project

a)       Project to be completed within timeframe

b)      Project should not be high at cost

c)       Project should be beneficial in terms of business value addition

Absence of project scoping would lead to team not aware of the opportunity, cannot implement, cannot measure improvement, cannot validate improvement as start and end point is not defined

Project scope helps us a) To know start - end point of improvement, b) Understand areas covered within the project, c) provide focus to the project team d) Correct expectations for the team and stakeholders about the project

Once the Big Y is identified        Y

Identify business Y                       Y1  

Identify Process CTQ                    Y2

Identify Measurable Y                  Y

Then establish the relationship of y with process and X i.e (Y=F(x)

Project scope is decided in Define phase, The scope should have categorization of In-scope and out of scope area such that the team would be able to understand the boundaries of the project, also at the time of project signoff the customer or stakeholder will have complete understanding and expectation of the improvement done within the scope of the project (If scope of improvement is for APAC region, then the stakeholders should not expect improvement to be done in North America or South Africa region as the defined in-scope is only India)


Basis the define scope the measurement of the baseline and as – is analysis is done for the in-scope data only, If the out-of-scope data is also a part of analysis it might not solve the purpose of the analysis During baselining of data if project team identifies the scope need to be refined, the team can do so as the DMAIC is the exercise where problem is known and the solution is unknown, hence there is a possibility that the scope might change during measure phase too. The project team must constantly look at such area where re-scoping is necessary and make necessary change in the scope and change management to be implemented. The project team should monitor the project scope at each level such that the team is focused on the right thing

Once the project focus is established then the team need to analyze the data/information/process which are in-scope as the analysis of out-of-scope content would lead to cost (of Team and time of the team) and would lead to skewed and inappropriate outcome

The solutions identified and Improved basis the in-scope content when implemented properly would lead to meeting the desired GOAL of the project.

The sustenance of such improvement would Control the process maintaining the Big Y as desired


If the Big Y of the project is not as desired, then the scope of the project needs to be revisited with the reason that the scoping done earlier was not effective and relevant to the project. So, the project will be allowed to revisit the scope at Define, Measure, Analyze and control phase.


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