Do you have a go-to plan to solve problems at work? Let’s look at the PDCA cycle, a no-frill approach to identifying problems, fixing them and monitoring your results.
Add the PDCA cycle to your business intelligence tool belt to seamlessly manage your different business processes and achieve continuous improvement.
What Does PDCA Stand For?
PDCA either stands for Plan Do Check Act or Plan Do Check Adjust. This cycle is ideal for organizations that implement ISO 9001 standards or rely on the Total Quality Management approach.
What Do the Four Steps of The PDCA Cycle Entail?
Start by answering these three questions:
- What is the issue?
- What data is relevant to collect to document the issue?
- What is causing the issue?
The second phase of the PDCA cycle consists of developing a solution for the problem identified during the first step. Ideally, you should develop a step-by-step plan to implement your solution and set some precise goals so you can determine whether your solution worked.
Did your solution work as expected? Typically, organizations compare data collected before and after implementing the solution to measure its efficiency. You should also use data to determine if the solution met (and ideally exceed) the goals set during the second phase.
- Act or Adjust
There are two courses of action you can take depending on the outcome of the third phase:
- If the solution didn’t work as expected, go back to the first step. You will have more data available to develop a plan of action this time.
- If the solution was a success, develop and implement a new set of best practices. Consider going back through the PDCA cycle again to optimize your solution and make sure you can get consistent results.
Why Is PDCA A Part Of QM?
Adopting PDCA means you will have a clearly-defined course of action whenever a quality issue arises. Here is why the PDCA is particularly adapted to address quality issues:
- It’s a simple 4-step plan. There is no need for an overly complicated system that would slow things down.
- Everyone knows what their role is thanks to the clearly-defined steps.
- The PDCA cycle is result-oriented so you can find a solution quickly, reduce costs and prevent more quality issues.
- This approach is a cycle, which means it allows you to continuously improve the quality of your products and services while drawing on data collected each time you implement a new solution.
- This simple system makes you more reactive whenever you need to implement new industry standards or whenever you roll out a new product.
The PDCA cycle is a model that you can use to develop your Quality Management process itself. The cycle approach allows you to get a picture of your QM process in relation to your other processes. It also gives you the possibility to use data to continuously improve how you monitor quality and how you fix problems.
The PDCA cycle is a comprehensive four step plan that breaks things down into more manageable tasks. This approach allows you to stay on track, get results and learn from your mistakes. Consider replacing an outdated or overly-complicated system with this cycle or think about adopting the PDCA cycle if you currently don’t have a clearly-defined course of action to address issues.