All organizations face challenges. Whether they are big picture
issues such as missed revenue targets or efficiency-specific issues
such as rework, following the Plan Do Check Act system can help
businesses implement effective solutions. The key activities taking
place in the four phases of this simple approach are outlined
In the Plan phase, the cause of the problem is identified and a
solution is designed. Conducting a thorough root cause analysis is
critical to any problem-solving initiative. It allows you to design
a solution that will fix the issue, not simply mask it.
Many tools can be used to conduct a root cause analysis. Two of
my favourites are fishbone diagrams (in which causes are identified
in the categories of materials, process, people and environment)
and the '5 whys' (asking "why?" repeatedly until
the cause is identified).
Once the root cause of the issue is understood, select and
design the solution that will best address it. Anticipate the
impact following implementation and collect baseline data.
In the Do phase, the solution is implemented. To prepare for
implementation, action plans are created, a stakeholder analysis is
conducted and communication plans are prepared. Once these detailed
plans are in place, the change can be implemented within the work
In the Check phase, the results are reviewed to determine if the
issue has been resolved and to quantify the benefits. Speak with
individuals who were directly involved in the change and obtain
their feedback. Capture new data and compare it with the original
data to measure the gains.
In the Act phase, the change is incorporated into standard work
or additional improvements are made. If the change is to be built
into standard work, amend any process documents and communicate the
permanent changes to all stakeholders. If further improvements are
needed, apply the Plan Do Check Act system again until the change
can be incorporated into standard work practices.
While the above phases offer guidance on what activities need to
take place, of equal importance is how the steps are carried out.
The most successful problem-solving initiatives actively engage
employees at all levels throughout the stages. Employees who do the
work every day have the most comprehensive understanding of where
the issues are, what solutions will be most effective and what
communication and training requirements exist. By valuing their
input and basing solutions on their ideas, organizations can
implement effective solutions with staying power.
The Plan Do Check Act system is an effective problem-solving
technique that sets the foundation for a culture of continuous
improvement. Momentum increases as employees learn to apply the
tools independently within their own work areas—the ultimate
goal for any organization seeking efficiencies through employee
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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The Law Society of British Columbia’s Cloud Computing Working Group issued its Final Report on Cloud Computing on January 27, 2012, amending an earlier consultation report approved by the "Benchers" on July 15, 2011.
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