The Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) is a four-step model that continually improves processes, products, and services. As a key element of lean project management, the PDCA cycle is a feedback loop that should be repeated frequently to realise continuous improvement.
The PDCA cycle was first proposed by an American physicist and statistician, Walter Shewhart, and later developed by Dr. William Edwards Deming. Deming expanded on Shewhart’s idea primarily for quality control, process improvement, and avoiding recurring management and manufacturing mistakes.
When to Use the Deming Cycle
The Plan-Do-Study-Act cycle is primarily used to continually resolve project management issues to improve human resource management, products, and services. The model entails testing multiple solutions, analysing the results, and improving the process. Therefore, the model can be applied to a wide range of projects. You can use the PDCA cycle when you want to:
- Minimise errors while maximising outcomes
- Explore and test multiple solutions
- Develop or improve a process or business plan
- Implement any change
- Work towards continuous improvement
- Plan data collection and analysis to determine root causes and possible solutions
4 Stages of the PDCA Cycle
You need a plan to determine what you require to solve a problem or change a process. When planning, identify and analyse the problem, develop several hypotheses, and choose the hypothesis you should test first using a suitable scientific method.
With the help of your organisation’s team, develop an implementation plan and write down the expected results. Ensure the expected results are measurable and realistic because you will return to them later.
Now that you have a hypothesis, the next step is to try it out. You need to test the hypothesis on a small-scale project to avoid interrupting your entire operation. It is prudent to test the hypothesis in a limited geographical area or a certain demographic to determine if it works. Ensure that everybody on your team understands their roles and responsibilities to improve efficiency.
This is arguably the most crucial stage in the PDCA cycle. Upon completing your pilot project, review and analyse the results. The Check phase is vital because it helps you analyse your solutions and revise the plan if necessary. If the hypothesis was a success, proceed to the Act stage.
However, if the plan did not work, you need to return to stage 1 (Plan) and start again. Remember, the evaluation will determine how you proceed. Therefore, consider your results carefully to avoid making a mistake in the future.
If everything looks good and your team achieves the set objectives, you can apply the initial plan. Remember, your improved product or process becomes the new baseline. However, it would help if you continued looking for ways to continuously improve your product or processes.
Reach Out to Best Practice Biz Today
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