PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act) is a very useful approach to solving problems and dealing with changed circumstances in the business environment, whether they are internal or external changes. This approach is extremely versatile and it can be used in many different industries. This approach ensures that all new ideas are tested completely before they are implemented in the actual work environment. This helps a company maintain high standards of quality.
PDCA starts with the identification of a particular problem. The next stage consists of the generation of possible solutions and testing them in a limited manner. The results are then evaluated in order to see which one has to be implanted. The final stage occurs when the best possible solution is implemented after it has been corrected for any mistakes.
A company that is committed to maintaining a high standard of quality will definitely benefit from using PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act). This model is especially useful when the company is:
Launching a Kaizen program in order to bring about improvements in quality on a gradual and sustained manner. This process also helps identify various problem areas that need to be rectified or done away with completely.
Planning to bring about change in anything whether it is a new product line or a different way of working or the use of a new raw material. Change always creates problems and therefore it should be ushered in with the greatest of care.
Eager to improve processes that are used very frequently and repeatedly. Any improvements in the process will have a huge impact on overall quality of the product or service because of the repetitive nature of the work.
Experiencing a large amount of wastage brought about by the use of incorrect work processes. The best solutions involve optimum usage of resources so that the company saves money on raw materials as well as storage costs.
Since PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act) is a tool for providing solutions for problems in a controlled manner, the company that uses it benefits greatly by avoiding costly mistakes. This tool cannot be used if the company is facing an emergency situation because it takes time and requires careful consideration and measurement. Even so, a company that is facing a problem should identify the nature of the problem correctly. Many issues that seem urgent at the outset turn out to be not that much of an emergency and can therefore be handled using PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act).
Bottom Line: PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act) is a very useful tool for handling change. Read about the different situations that call for the use of this tool.
Solving problems is a very important part of working because the internal and external business environment is always in change. However, if a manager does not employ the right method of problem solving then he or she will definitely be using resources in an incorrect manner. This will affect quality, customer and employee satisfaction and eventually, profitability. The 6-Step problem solving method is a systematic method of dealing with issues so that they are handled in a consistently correct manner.
The first step is the identification of the problem. There should always be a clearly defined and measurable goal to work towards. The senior managers of the company should also be in agreement regarding the problem so that support is available.
Next, the problem should be analyzed correctly. The potential causes should be analyzed and data related to it should be collected and analyzed. This is very important because it helps people understand the actual cause or causes of the problem. This stage generally takes a lot of time because there might be many potential causes for a problem and each of them should be studied carefully in order to eliminate it as a cause.
When a root cause has been identified then a solution should be selected. Here too, there might be more than one solution and each one should be tested for feasibility.
The chosen solution should be implemented on a small scale.
The implemented solution has to be tested to understand whether it is indeed effective. If not, then it has to be reworked or another solution has to be arrived at by starting the process all over again.
If the solution is indeed the right one then it should be standardized so that it can be implemented correctly and easily.
A company that is extremely conscious of quality will not be satisfied with the improvements brought about by this problem solving method. It will keep using this technique to bring about incremental improvements in quality, irrespective of how minor each increment is.
Companies that wish to succeed in the marketplace use the 6-Step problem solving method to smooth out various mistakes in their work processes. This is a very systematic approach to dealing with problems and it does take up quite a bit of time. Even so, it is an extremely useful tool to make use of and it is utilized across various industries with a great deal of success.
Bottom Line: Find out what the 6-Step problem solving method consists of. Understand how companies use it to deal with a variety of problems.
The 5 Whys problem solving technique was introduced to the world by the Japanese automaker Toyota which used it as well as other management tools to revolutionize their way of working. The immense success of this company was attributed to the high quality and lowered costs brought about by its efficient management style.
If you are eager to bring about immense changes in the way your company functions then you too should start using the 5 Whys to deal with any problem. It is extremely simple to use and it involves the asking of one question after the other in order to get to the root of any problem. The first why generates an answer which should prompt another why and so on. The benefits of using this technique for problem solving include:
It helps you get to the genesis of a problem so that it can be addressed right at that point. Trying to address the symptoms of a problem does not amount to anything but window dressing.
The process generally unearths a whole lot of problems that are related to the main problem.
This tool is extremely easy to use and it does not require a great deal of training. As a matter of fact, it can be used by any person at any level in the organization. However, it gives the best results when a team of people work on the problem together.
There is rarely any need to collect data for using this tool and it also does not call for statistical analysis of any sort.
If a problem has more than one root cause then this tool helps to determine the root cause between them.
The 5 Whys problem solving tool is generally used by 6 Sigma teams and they are able to get excellent results from it. Even though the name of the tool indicates that five questions have to be asked, this is very rarely the case. Many teams arrive at the cause of a problem after asking a couple of questions whereas others need to ask more than five. This useful tool can also be used as part of normal work and it does not have to be restricted to 6 Sigma teams. Irrespective of who uses it, the most important thing to be kept in mind is that the right answers will be obtained only if the correct questions are asked.
Bottom Line: Companies use the 5 Whys tool for solving problems very efficiently. Find out what the benefits of this tool are.