You’ve worked hard to make your product, and the worst thing that can happen to your manufactured products is that it is defective. Unfortunately, if it’s not recyclable, all the money that you spent to make that piece is wasted. And even if it’s recyclable, you’ll still lose some percent of the money. Being co-founder of your company, you need to ensure that your product and process need to have as high accuracy as possible of being not defective. So how do you ensure that your products and process are defect free? Of course, it can never happen. Nothing is cent percent perfect. The only thing you can do is to push the chances of being non-defective to as much near as possible of 100%.
When it comes to Problem Solving or Continuous Improvement of Process or Product, the first method that comes to our mind is Deming Cycle. It is an iterative four-step management process that is more like a cycle and comes back to the first step as soon as the fourth step gets completed.
PDCA consists of four steps:
It is also known as Deming Circle, Deming Wheel, Shewhart Cycle, Control Circle, Control Cycle, Plan–Do-Study–Act (PDSA), Deming Quality Wheel, and Deming Management Wheel.
Background of Plan-Do-Check-Act
In 1924, Walter A. Shewhart prepared a one-page memorandum to effectively increase the quality of the products and forwarded to his manager. About one-third of that page was covered with a simple diagram of a cycle. He might have had not known that he had invented probably the best process to continuously improve a product or process. What he suggested was, after launching the pilot product, firstly, we need to first plan the improvements for next release. Secondly, do the implementation. Thirdly, check whether the newly added changes are performing as expected. Fourthly, if the changes are successful, we need to document it, and if it’s not, learn from the mistakes and again move to step one.
In 1950, W. Edwards Deming, further improved the process by adjusting it a little. He modified the PDCA cycle to PDSA where “Check” is replaced with “Study” (and yes, it makes more sense). The fundamental idea of the process remains the same. The alteration of the third step to “Study” has made this cycle even more effective. Rather than checking whether the newly added changes are performing as expected, we now study its performance. Though all those changes, people are still more comfortable to call it as PDCA.
How to Use Plan-Do-Check-Act?
To keep this article from being boring and uninteresting, I am going to explain the four steps with an example of launching an iOS app. I chose this as an example because mobile app industry is booming, and more and more people are choosing this as a business. Let’s say that you are building an app that automatically schedules your content for social media. You probably want to tweet something to your targeted audience at the time when they’re up. So if you’re targeting customers in Japan and you live in US, you don’t have to be up till 3 AM to tweet. You can schedule it in your app, and it’ll automatically post at 3 AM US time. It’s a win-win case for you as well as your targeted audience in Japan.