The 5-Step Decision Making Process to Improve Your Supply Chain

Written By: Marvin Logan

Sometimes it can be hard to make a decision. Especially when that decision will cause major changes to the status quo or cost a lot of money. So how do you know you’re making the right choice? One way is to use the proven Bastian Consulting 5-step methodology, DMADV, as your decision making process.

Decision making process DMADV

When we’re asked by our customers to help them make a decision about changes to their current operations, we always use our DMADV methodology. But what exactly is it? And why do we use it? And more importantly, does it actually work?

What is the 5-step decision making process?

DMADV is a 5 step methodology for solving problems, with each letter representing a step in the process.

D – DEFINE: The first step in making a decision or solving a problem is to define it. This first step is one of the most critical steps. You have to accurately and adequately define the constraints, the current operations, and the goals. If you spend the time upfront defining the requirements and constraints, you’ll be able to determine whether or not the solution/decision is the right one.

M – MEASURE: The second step in making a decision or solving a problem is to measure. In this case, we want to measure the current operations. By measuring the current operations, we’ll have something to compare our solution against. If the solution doesn’t improve the current operations, by providing increased capacity/throughput, improving efficiency, or improving safety for example, then it might not be the right choice.

A – ANALYZE: The third step in making a decision or solving a problem is to analyze the data. We gathered all the data in the previous step, but now we need to get it into a meaningful format. There are many different ways to analyze and format the data, but some of the typical things we look for in the data are things like order profiles, order types and patterns, seasonality, etc.

D – DESIGN: The fourth step in making a decision or solving a problem is to design solutions. Now that we’ve collected and analyzed the data, we can start to design solutions. This can take on many different forms, such as creating warehouse layouts, conveyor layouts, or new processes to name a few. For the different solutions, we’ll put together budget pricing.

V – VALIDATE: The final step in making a decision or solving a problem is to validate the preferred design option. Before you pull the trigger on the decision, you want to know if it’s going to actually solve the problem. To help validate the preferred option, we can run Excel simulations or even model the system in one of the simulation packages we use such as Demo 3D. If we create a simulation, you’ll be able to see your system and test different worse-case scenarios.

Why do we use it? And does it work?

Now that you know what DMADV is, you might be wondering why we use it. By following these five steps each time we encounter a problem, we’re ensuring that we’ve fully identified the issues and our solutions will actually meet your needs and help solve the issues you’re having with your supply chain or warehouse.

But, does it work? There’s a reason we call it our proven methodology. We’ve used it in our engineering studies for years. Every time we use this methodology, we’re able to make an informed recommendation and help you make an informed decision. In the end, we answer the question – did you make the right decision? – with a yes.

Marvin Logan is Director of Consulting Services at Bastian Solutions. He and his team of consultants provide engineering studies, system simulations, slotting analysis, and system layout and design.

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12 comments

  1. Claudia Dunaway says:

    I appreciated learning how this effective decision-making process can be applied to improving supply chains. What about a follow-up article that takes the reader through the steps using an example?

  2. Cheri Krueger says:

    The same methodology can be applied in developing a sales strategy in the highly competitive field of Telecommunications. This process was very well documented and thought through. Nice work Jesseca.

  3. Jesseca Lyons says:

    Thanks for the suggestion, Claudia. We’ll be writing more on this topic through out the year and will considering a case study to illustrate how the steps can be applied.

  4. Jesseca Lyons says:

    Cheri, you’re right, the great thing about this process is that it can be used in many different fields. It’s a very flexible process that I find myself using every time I need to make a major decision – even in my personal life.

  5. Hud Freeze says:

    You’re right J, we use that sort of approach in the lab all the time. Sometimes its almost done automatically. Nice to see the process broken down into steps. And it gives us a target to revisit and check if we’ve skipped a step in the process. Keep up the good work.

  6. Andrea Liston says:

    This is an excellent structure to facilitate change. As a director of assessment and accreditation for a small private college, it provides me with a nice graphic organizer to provide a visual for my faculty.
    Thanks for sharing!

  7. Jennifer Richard says:

    Thanks for this elegant summary of a decision-making process. It aligns beautifully with the content from the book, “Decisive.” We absolutely need data to make the best decisions possible and we also have to prepare to make adjustments along the way based on that data.

  8. Jesseca Lyons says:

    Jennifer, thanks for bringing up that we “have to to make adjustments along the way”. It’s very important to keep an open mind when analyzing and understanding the data.

  9. Connie Zapf says:

    Great article, Jesseca. This concept can even apply to our medical office to make decisions in our ever-changing field. It’s concise, well thought out and easy to use. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Marcelle Richardson says:

    Thanks!!! I really enjoyed the article.

  11. Marie Stimpson says:

    This practical methodology would definitely benefit an organization that restructures often, and perhaps would help break the cycle of attempting to fly the plane while it’s still on the assembly line, so to speak.

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