Continuous improvement is the key to everything. It is a process. An interplay between knowledge and experience sharing. Sometimes it is also a long-term work, where it is difficult to see the improvement process as part of the organizational culture.
Within every organization the following applies: quality management on the shop floor can be improved. Companies are never 100% satisfied with their improvement policy. But if you want to build on the road to ironclad improvement actions, read on.
Back to basics: what is the PDCA cycle?
The PDCA principle has amply proven its usefulness and importance. Nevertheless, it appears that the finer points of PDCA are little known and that the approach is still awkward in many companies.
In order to clear up the last doubts, we will first take a closer look at the meaning of the word:
PDCA is a creative tool for quality management and problem solving in organizations. The circle describes four activities that apply to all improvements in organizations. The acronym stands for the most important steps in the circle: Plan, Do, Check, Act.
It is an essential part of the lean manufacturing philosophy and a prerequisite for continuous improvement of people and processes in your organization.
The four steps
How do you begin to create a good plan? Determine the result you want to achieve and use the right arguments for it. Especially in times of crisis and uncertainty, a good plan is crucial to keeping your business healthy.
- What is the core problem that needs to be addressed or what do you want to change?
- What resources are needed?
- What resources do you have available?
- What is the best solution to solve the problem with the resources available?
- What are your objectives?
- Define your approach and plan for the change.
After planning, it’s time to take action. If you want to win in advance: that’s the way to go. In this phase, you apply everything you considered in the previous phase.
- Turn your problems into actions.
- Try out the solutions.
- Test the change.
- Find out what works or doesn’t work.
💡 Tip: Try to describe actions as concretely as possible. In each case, write down what needs to be done, who will perform the action, and when this person will return to it.
Perhaps the most important phase of the PDCA process. So please do not stop at the previous step. That does not work. Perform checks for your customers, colleagues and organization. Make sure they learn something from the previous steps. Build exciting, informative and creative improvement ideas and compare the results with the set objectives.
If you want to clarify your plan, avoid recurring mistakes and continuously improve your organization, it is important to pay sufficient attention to the check phase. (We can’t stress it enough.)
- Check the solutions.
- Compare the outcome.
- Check that everything works.
- Assess, analyze and identify.
- Verify that everything happened as anticipated.
Last but not least, you enter the final phase of the cycle. Are you experiencing discrepancies? Penetrate them in a steering manner with the right measures. Build on the added value for your employees, so that they actually enjoy cooperating in the improvement process.
- Adjust where necessary and safeguard the improved result.
- Act on the basis of what you have learned in the previous phase.
- What needs to be adjusted, how can it be done better next time?
The PDCA improvement board
In Azumuta we use digital improvement boards. On the one hand you get an overview of the improvement actions and their status. On the other hand, production employees can report improvement ideas or problems in an accessible way.
You get an overview of all issues through the PDCA principle or a self-selected workflow. Because that is the nice thing about our improvement boards: you can do anything with them. The only thing you have to take into account are your employees. What really counts is that it is an efficient tool for them.
Improvement ideas go to waste far too often
The ultimate truth. Fortunately, our improvement boards can help, because unfortunately, when ideas aren’t written down right away, they often get lost.
A loose cable, scratches, recurring danger … It is often difficult to capture every detail in a few words. It is even more difficult to do this in one conveniently arranged tool. However, that is precisely the intention. That is why we have made the creation and management of improvement boards with Azumuta very flexible.
For example, take an audit as a starting point. Use your smartphone or tablet to capture the issue. And link it to the right issue with the right characteristics. In this way, improvement ideas are never lost.
Feedback on the production floor
But what is at least equally essential for your quality management? Feedback. Follow-up. And an undeniable impact on your employee satisfaction.
How do you turn quality management into a genuine conversation with your employees? How do you reinforce improvement actions that really matter – and that don’t disappear into the forgetting box?
Feedback determines the voice with which you have the conversation. Chose the right tool so they connect. Be able to add value. Being able to raise issues. For optimal policy. And so brings an improvement tool that you want to bring. With effect.
We have already mentioned it countless times, but again, provide a good feedback tool for your production staff. There is nothing more frustrating than to launch an idea and then hear nothing more about it. By communicating the necessary motivation, each employee will remain motivated to register new initiatives in the future.
To know more?
By engaging the right tool you will already achieve a great deal. We all want to work smarter and “do something” about improvement management. At Azumuta, we support the PDCA improvement board with many other things needed to support your operators optimally. And the nice thing is, you have everything at hand, in one central tool. If you have any questions, give or a call.