PDCA is a widely recognized model that’s used for continuous improvement of business processes. This article discusses how to incorporate job tasks in the model for clearer definition of changes and faster process improvement.
Using a job task approach improves the quality of PDCA cycles by providing a method for implementing change. Job tasks describe the detailed instructions of how a process or service is performed. They are tangible items that team members can use to manage the process changes proposed in the PDCA model.
The key benefit for using this approach is being able to identify the subset of job tasks within the process that are affected by changes. This information helps team members better analyze the impact of PDCA changes on the process.
What is PDCA?
PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act) is a repetitive four stage model for carrying out change and problem solving. The PDCA model has been around for many years to help facilitate process improvement initiatives. It’s often referred to as the “Deming Wheel” and is commonly used for implementing process improvement projects. The PDCA model consists of four steps:
- Plan – identify and plan a change
- Do – execute the plan
- Check –monitor effectiveness of the change
- Act – evaluate results and decide on next set of actions
The four steps are repeated over and over again in an ongoing effort of continuous improvement. The purpose of the repetitive cycles is to keep extending knowledge further to help improve the process and achieve a desired goal. Another version of this model is PDSA (Plan-Do-Study-Act). The substitution of “Study” in place of “Check” means that the cycle is initially studied before being applied directly to the process.
Applying Job Tasks to PDCA Cycles
1. The Plan Step is the most critical part of the cycle and sets the foundation for developing subsequent steps. During the Plan Step, the team develops a change/solution for improving the process. The team then identifies the list of job tasks required to successfully implement the change. This list consists of both operating and monitoring tasks:
- Operating Tasks–the job tasks needed to implement the change in the Do Step. They are the modified or new operating tasks that will be performed to help facilitate the change.
- Monitoring Tasks – the job tasks needed to monitor the change in the Check Step. They are the tasks that will be performed for data collection and analysis.
The result of the Plan Step is the development of a list of job tasks that will be used to implement the change and complete the cycle.
2. The Do Step involves performing the process with the operating tasks identified in the previous step. Using this list of job tasks provides an efficient way to implement the PDCA change within the process.
3. In the Check Step, the results of performing the process with the change are analyzed using the monitoring tasks. The results are compared against the expected goals to see if there’s a deviation or gap.
4. During the Act Step, decisions must be made about what actions to take next, based upon the analysis performed in the Check Step:
- If there’s no improvement – adjust the Plan Step and go through the PDCA cycle again to find a solution.
- If there is improvement – the job tasks identified as improving the cycle are incorporated into the process and become the new baseline. They become part of the foundation for addressing the next set of changes.
In either case, the PDCA cycle is repeated again and again by looping back to the planning phase in order to find new improvements.
Benefits of Using Job Tasks to Implement PDCA
Better Assessment of the PDCA Change. The team is able to identify the number of job tasks that were impacted to implement the change. They consist of both the operating and monitoring tasks identified in the Plan Step. This information provides a better understanding of the scope of the change.
Faster Adaptation to Change. The job task approach allows more effective PDCA cycling and faster adaptation to change. Applying job tasks to the PDCA model helps facilitate its’ implementation. It allows managers to more clearly define how to implement the change for the cycle.
Preparation for Future Growth. Using job tasks to implement PDCA helps position companies for future growth. Incremental improvements are captured each time the PDCA cycle is performed. Team members are able to build a knowledge repository as a foundation for planning future process improvement projects.
For more information about using job tasks to help manage process improvement, please click on the following link: Using Job Tasks for Faster Process Improvement.
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