The PDCA method is a management tool that brings continues improvements to the company’s processes, besides being very useful for a business of all sizes and from all segments.
The way a company manages its processes influences directly on the quality of the services offered and on the customers’ satisfaction. For that reason, it is essential to look for ways to optimize their execution, making them simpler and agiler.
The name PDCA comes from the English language (Plan, Do, Check, Act), and each of its initials refers to one application stage of the method: to plan, to do, to check and to act. They ease the identification and correction of problems that may affect the business’ results and also help to reach objectives.
As it follows, we will explain how each and every stage works and how you can apply them to the management of your businesses. Enjoy the reading!
The first stage on PDCA consists of doing a planning that will guide all the methodology. At this stage, you must choose a focus, identifying the processes that can be most benefited by the method. Which company’s procedures have been presenting problems like slowness, lack of productivity or the need for costs reduction? All of them are great candidates to be the starting point for the application of the method.
It is important to bear in mind that the objective of the PDCA method is to identify what has been causing the problems and what can be done so that they don’t happen again. Many times, the managers only try to remedy the consequences brought by them, what can bring results for a short and undetermined period of time, that is, we are talking about an attitude that has little efficiency.
In that way, after identifying the processes that need enhancement, it is necessary to find answers for a series of questionings that can guide the search for solutions. These are some of the points that must be considered:
- What may be causing this problem?
- How often does it happen?
- At what extent is it influencing the business?
- What are the objectives that need to be reached?
- What measures can be taken in order to accomplish them?
For you to be successful at this stage, it is fundamental that you let the collaborators present all their ideas and you analyze them attentively. They are used to dealing with the processes in the sector they work on and may have a deeper vision on your present situation, as well as what has been hindering the achievement of a higher quality on its execution. For that reason, doing a brainstorming might be very useful when making decisions.
Doing a meticulous planning is what will define the level of success in the application of the method. Therefore, spare no efforts at this stage and look for the higher possible amount of information about the process that is being analyzed. That can be done, for example, through reports, customers’ research or data analysis of the management software of the company.
At this stage, it is time for implementing the measures that were defined at the previous stage. Certify that all the collaborators compromise on the execution of the proposed actions according to the settled plan, and know exactly how to do it. If necessary, arrange meetings and offer them training before the beginning of the activities, so that everything goes according to what has been planned.
In order for everything to go well, it is required for the manager to participate actively on the process, by offering support to the collaborators and observing if the plan is really being carried out or if there are any deviations from what has been established.
It is also important to verify if everything is being done correctly, or if otherwise any actions are being done in an improvised way, what could negatively affect the final results.
Besides, it is essential to register all the implemented actions in order to solve the problems as well as the date and the team involved in their execution. All the results obtained with the measures taken must be written down to be analyzed afterward.
This is the stage of analyzing the results obtained at the previous stage. Compare the solutions found to the objectives defined at the planning stage. Have the objectives been reached? In case they have, verify if everything happened according to the previous established dates or if the procedures need refining. Don’t forget to take notes of all your observations.
However, if the objectives haven’t been reached, analyze if all the procedures adopted were equally inefficient, or if any of them were effective but then harmed by the ones that didn’t work the expected way. Thus, it will be possible to identify exactly which actions need a more elaborate planning.
Now that you already know whether the adopted measures were efficient of not, it is necessary to act towards them. If the objectives have been reached, it is a signal that the procedures are on the right path, and should probably be taken as a pattern for the carrying on of this specific process.
On the other hand, if the measures haven’t brought the expected results, there is the need to identify what caused this problem and search for new ways to obtain the intended improvements. What is the best way to do that? Re-starting the PDCA cycle and passing through all the four stages again: do a new project to define new actions.
After having finished this first application of the cycle, you will certainly get a new view on the studied process that is much more detailed and will have a higher chance of making the corrective actions right the next time.
The objectives that will be defined on the following planning must take into consideration the problems that hindered the success of the adopted actions so that they can be resolved and the process can finally happen in an ideal way. This practice doesn’t only enable the processes to keep a high standard of quality, but also improve them constantly.
It is very important that you uninterruptedly repeat all the PDCA cycle, so that it may be possible to obtain a higher quality of the procedures continually, always identifying new failures that might arise or optimization opportunities coming from any of the internal processes of the company.
The PDCA method is one of the most used management tools in companies, and by applying them correctly, you will surely obtain better results in your business.
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