PDCA Cycle Tips

Useful Tips to Help Implement PDCA

One of the most effective ways to implement changes in a facility is by using the PDCA cycle. PDCA, which stands for Plan Do Check Act is a system that has been used for years by many different types of industries. It is simple enough to use that it doesn’t require too much training, but there are some tips and tricks that a facility can use to ensure any change goes as smoothly as possible.

The following are some key tips that can help your facility get the most out of this strategy. Whether you’re just starting to follow the PDCA cycle or you’ve been benefiting from it for years, there will be something here to help every facility.

Tip #1 – Train Everyone

Making sure that everyone understands what the PDCA cycle is and how it works is extremely important. This begins with the management and change teams, but continues down to people throughout the company. Some people will need to have more in depth training than others, but everyone should have at least a base understanding.

Providing at least a basic understanding of what the PDCA cycle is will make it easier for your facility to include the right people in every change you want to implement. When a particular individual or team is required for something with a change, they will be able to hit the ground running no matter where in the cycle a change currently is.

Tip #2 – Require the Use of the Cycle

There will almost certainly be some individuals or groups within a facility that don’t want to use this type of system. Even if they aren’t against the PDCA cycle itself, many people are against any effort to formalize the change process because they believe it will cause them more work or other issues.

If allowed, these types of people may continue putting changes in place where they can without using this process. This will obviously have negative consequences on their own changes, but it can also impact the improvement efforts of others in the facility.

With this in mind, making the use of the PDCA cycle mandatory for all changes that occur within the company is a great idea. Even those who are resistant at first will get used to the idea much more quickly if they know that everyone is required to do it for any changes that are made.

Tip #3 – Remember it is a Cycle

The PDCA cycle is not something that you run through once and consider a change completed. While there are situations where you’ll find success on the first run, most changes or improvements will need to go through the Planning, Doing, Checking and Acting process multiple times to get the best results.

It should never be considered a failure to have to loop through this process multiple times. Instead, make sure everyone knows that the idea of this system is to continue using it on a specific area until the change has been fully implemented and optimized.

Tip #4 – Standardize the Steps

The PDCA cycle is more of a general outline on how things should be done than a series of specific steps. Each company should come up with some specific ‘sub-steps’ that can help them in their unique situation. For example, during the planning step one company may want to include a process where the team gets approval from the proper management teams.

Identifying who needs to know about what types of changes will help ensure everyone is ‘in the loop’ where they need to be. It will also help to prevent causing problems by making changes that could conflict with other things.

The more you can outline the steps that need to take place during each part of the cycle the better things will go. It is fairly simple to figure out what types of things you need to do with every change within your facility. By documenting these steps the PDCA cycle will run more smoothly and have fewer issues no matter what type of change you are attempting to implement.

Tip #5 – When to Use the PDCA Cycle

As a general rule you can use the PDCA cycle for just about any type of change or improvement effort you want to make for your facility. Understanding the specific areas where you can most easily use this system and get the most benefits, however, is quite important. This is especially true when you’re just starting out with the cycle as it will give you ideas on how it can help.

The following are some key times when using the PDCA cycle will be beneficial:

  • Starting a New Project – If you’re putting a new system in place you can really benefit running it through this cycle. It will help get the new project started in the easiest and most efficient way possible.
  • Automating a Repetitive Process – Automation is a very important part of most businesses today. When attempting to automate something it is a good idea to use the PDCA process so you can eliminate as much of the wasted effort as possible.
  • Organizing – Organizing a particular area within your facility can help to eliminate a variety of types of waste. Rather than just working to make things look neat and clean, however, use the PDCA cycle to ensure you won’t have to go back and reorganize the area again.
  • Waste Elimination – Eliminating waste in your facility is a great way to improve the bottom line. With each type of waste you discover, make sure you look at it with the PDCA cycle in mind. This will allow you to reduce or eliminate as much wasted time, effort, energy and other things as possible.
  • General Changes – As mentioned above, any change that you’re making can benefit from this process. The PDCA cycle will give your changes structure and a clear way to identify problems before they occur.

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Tip #6 – Measure Results

One of the most important things you can do when using the PDCA cycle is to measure the results you produce. Having documented results with each change will help company leadership to see the benefits of this methodology, and will also help give you the data needed to ensure this process continues long into the future.

Since the PDCA cycle can be used on any type of change it is important to make sure you are gathering data during the planning stage and then after changes have been implemented. This will allow you to get accurate data from every change.

In many cases the change will be ongoing through many PDCA cycles. When this is the case, you can measure results at key points to see how this system produces ongoing results.

PDCA Will Work

In conclusion, you will need to keep in mind the PDCA cycle will only work if you and your facility really embrace it and use it for all improvement efforts. This process has been proven effective when followed and can help your facility to get the most out of all changes. Take the above mentioned tips and see how you can use them to implement or improve the way your facility uses the PDCA cycle today.

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