Improve is the fourth step in the DMAIC improvement model. In this step solutions are formulated and tested, the “best” solution is identified and implementation plan established.

Improve should contain a number of sign offs namely that the solutison meets the needs of the customer and that it is in line with the business case and plan established during the define phase. Where the solution is not in line with the business case – further agreement with the project sponsor may be required.

In ascertaining possible solutions a variety of tools may be utilized. It is important for the improvement team to consider any constraints that may exist show the solution can be tested.
Commonly during this stage a to-be process map (or future state value stream map) is produced which will articulate the future shape of the process. The improvement team should look closely at this solution to ensure that it has removed the problems previously identified.

A “pilot phase” may also be undertaken to prove and measure the proposed solution. Note that data will often be captured during the pilot phase in order to obtain accurate measures.

Once a solution has been found, an implementation plan should be designed – the goal of this plan will be to transform the targeted process from the current state to the future state. This plan will include timescales, resources and costs. The implementation plan will also contain appropriate measures to be used following implementation to prove that the new process works.

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