Use the PDCA cycle it is an excellent way for companies to optimize their processes and focus on a more qualified delivery of products or services.
Even because, let’s face it: what businesses are able to thrive without organization, focused on greater productivity on a daily basis?
Technology has changed the way customers relate to brands. The growing demand, therefore, forces companies to be better and better.
That is why organizations that want to be more and more a reference where they work need to constantly improve their processes.
And through the PDCA cycle this is possible.
But, after all, what is this methodology and how is it applied?
Or, better: what benefits does it bring, in practice, to companies that use it?
These are questions that we will answer from now on.
After all, what is the PDCA cycle?
The PDCA cycle is a methodology used to continuously improve processes within organizations.
The acronym, moreover, means:
- do (do);
Its origin goes back to the 1920s. The person responsible for its creation is an American physicist.
Your name? Walter Andrew Shewart, who had a notorious job in the area of statistical quality control.
Despite the date of creation, this methodology became popular only 30 years later on account of Professor William Edwards Deming.
He, who is also an American, is a reference in quality management, both honored with titles in this area.
His legacy brings works related to the improvement of productive processes in the USA, especially during World War II.
But, are we going back to the PDCA concept?
Its focus is on eliminating failures, increasing the productivity of everyone involved and, of course, offering more qualified delivery to the market.
More than that, this method is focused on problems that are not apparent at first – which further increases its importance.
It also acts to resolve those issues that previously had failed attempts at correction.
It is a way to accelerate knowledge and improve activities within the company.
The PDCA cycle works to identify these defects, their causes and builds strategic planning based on possible solutions.
Focus on constant improvement
Because it is a cycle, you must already imagine that it is something that ends up repeating itself. That’s right.
The methodology works through repetition and the search for better and better results.
Even so, the final product is not always the same, after all, you are looking for improvement, not stagnation.
Therefore, with each new process performed, a new one originates. And so on. The cycle is constantly renewed and never stops.
The intention is that the product or service resulting from this continuous improvement will finally reach customers.
That is why failures are always on the companies’ radar and are immediately corrected.
With concrete data to measure both bottlenecks and applied solutions, the application of the PDCA cycle is even more assertive.
Its application can – and should – occur in any operation within companies. But we’ll talk more about that already.
PDCA cycle: phases and application in companies
To plan. Do. Check. Act. These are the phases of the methodology. But, what exactly do they mean?
To understand how to “attack” a problem, you need to divide it.
Thus, it is possible to concentrate efforts and, at each stage, make an assertive decision making, surrounded by the necessary care.
The planning stage is the time to establish the goals and objectives of the PDCA cycle.
So ask yourself: what problems will the company focus on to solve? And what do we need to succeed in this mission?
At this point, it is essential to know how to do good planning and have a really effective administrative management.
Then, it is necessary to understand which performance indicators are relevant to show whether the actions are or are not being effective.
Therefore, we can divide the planning stage into 4:
- Problem identification – it is when you analyze data, reports and all possible information to be sure of the problems and the reasons for that;
- Problem note – the time to detail the problems, their specific details. It is a meticulous work that must be observed from different perspectives;
- Problem analysis – time to raise the possible causes of the problem and order them by their relevance so that it is possible to choose the most likely ones, based on data;
- Action plan – once the real causes of the problems are identified, it is time to create an action plan to combat them.
For the item above, methodologies like 5W2H help at this point. The Ishikawa Diagram is also important to support and assist in making decisions.
After all, it is time to plan that you will determine which complementary methodology will be used to correct the issues raised.
Planning needs to be careful and detail as much as possible. It has to be didactic for everything that is put there to be executed.
Once the problems have been identified and the goals have been outlined, it’s time to get down to business.
Plan the job and work the plan. This is what needs to happen here. To the letter.
The planning was done in a thorough manner, based on relevant information and, therefore, it is necessary to be disciplined to follow it.
If there is any kind of deviation, then you will need to go back to the first stage of the PDCA cycle and retrace your steps.
Otherwise, you run the risk that performance indicators will not map your actions. And without control, there is no management.
Understand: everything that is done needs to be metered. Take control, even if you have to back down.
The BSC, Balanced Scorecard can help you right now.
And to ensure that everyone involved in doing what has been planned will succeed, invest in their qualification.
Trainings, coaching, lectures … it doesn’t matter.
Ensure that the time spent on the action plan is compensated with actions that are really effective for the company.
Only a trained team, with high motivation, will be able to deliver what your business needs and deserves.
As soon as the “doing” stage begins, the checking stage begins. The sooner the results start to be tracked, the faster you will know if you are on the right track or not.
Compare what has been predicted with what is being accomplished. Do you agree or fall short of the projected?
Identify gaps quickly and make adjustments with the actions in progress and, of course, monitor them.
If they are too complex, well, then you will need to restart the cycle. Go back to the initial steps to ensure that everything that has been planned will happen reliably.
Also evaluate the work methodology you have chosen for your teams to work on.
Do you agree with the characteristics of your employees? Does it fit into the company’s organizational culture and is it good for people?
Don’t forget to do a quantitative, statistical analysis of what is being done.
Qualitative assessment is important, but you will also need numbers to see if the original problem is being corrected.
Yes, it is time to start seeing results in practice.
If you were successful in applying what was planned, then you will have that planning as a default.
Otherwise, the PDCA cycle will restart and the lesson will have been learned so that errors will not be repeated.
The last stage, therefore, proposes a reflection on the path that will be taken from now on.
More than that: what was learned in this trajectory, regardless of whether the mission was successful or not?
Therefore, we can separate the act stage into:
- Standardization – when successful, the process is adjusted and the plan will be followed by everyone in the company. Document these good practices and make them available to everyone in the company so that anyone is able to develop them.
- Conclusion – time for reflection, both by managers and employees. Use numbers at this point and have everything documented, both to repeat part of what went right, and to not do what went wrong anymore.
The cycle is a learning opportunity. It is how companies manage to improve their processes, even if they need to retrace their path once, twice, or more times.
The important thing is to stay on track. Focus on the customer and improve internal productivity to be able to deliver an increasingly better product or service.
So, how can we help you?
If you were unsure about how to apply the PDCA cycle in your company, or if you want to share some pain when it comes to managing your business, talk to a consultant today.
Enjoy and read two articles that bring methodologies to help you in the task of being an always better manager.
The first talks about the importance of the SMART methodology for the definition of goals in companies.
The second talks about how the kanban system helps companies to organize their processes.
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