Sunday, 21 February 2010

PDCA - Plan Do Check Act

This Southbeach Notation Model shows the key steps in the PDCA cycle developed by W. E. Deming during the 80s. This compliments the previous article on the Capability Maturity Model (CMM). Whereas the CMM describes what characterises the levels of maturity of an organisation, the Deming cycle provides a way of evaluating the issues with the current situation and doing something about it.

The CMM focusses on defining what characterises the performance and quality of processes at different levels of maturity and improving the organisation by institutionalising the processes to make them more objective, measurable, and repeatable. The Deming cycle provides a simple four step process... Plan, Do, Check, Act to do just that:

  • Agree what we are trying to achieve (what are our goals?)
  • Analyse the current situation (whats useful and harmful and why?)
  • Identify Options for achieving our goals with Critical Success Factors for each
  • Assess potential impact of change for each option (useful and harmful)
  • Agree which options and approach to implement
  • Define Key Performance Indicators
  • Create implementation plan with resources, roles & responsibilities
  • Take small steps
  • Control the circumstances
  • Attribute improvements and failures to your actions
  • Track improvements and failures against KPIs and planned benefits
  • Assess whether your actions are yielding the desired result
  • If your actions are having the desired result, great - get started on standardising that activity so it becomes institutionalised and the improvement becomes repeatable, business as usual
  • If your actions are not having the desired result, understand why and go round the loop again
This Southbeach Notation model shows the steps in the process along with the key activities involved in each step. Such models can be used as guides when embarking on an improvement programme. The structure of the model can even be adapted to provide an associative map of the challenges faced by an organisation and what they plan to do about it.

Taking a high level conceptual model such as this and evolving it into a specific model for what you are going to do in a particular situation can be a powerful way of driving a process.

This approach to driving a process is precisely the kind of activity described in CMM process maturity level 5; where standard processes are available along with guidelines on how these can be tailored to suit your particular sitution, and the results of your work are systematically re-incorporated into the formal body of knowledge of the organisation and used to improve those processes further.

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