What is PDCA?

Plan Do Check Act (PDCA) is a cyclical method for achieving continual improvement of an organization or process. In the first stage, companies must clearly identify and define a specific problem. The “Do” step is about taking a small, controlled action with a limited release, pilot project or other sampling technique. Stage 3 is where the results are examined and compared to desired goals. Once the earlier stages yield positive and acceptable results on a small scale, the project moves to full implementation in Stage 4.

The Benefits of PDCA

The real beauty of this methodology comes from its simplicity, scalability and repeatability. It’s a cyclical strategy that defines and addresses one problem at a time with live-tested solutions. It’s a good way for small companies or new business leaders to start making consistent progress towards more effective and efficient operations.

How to Create PDCA

Creating and implementing the Plan Do Check Act is a top-down effort, but benefits greatly from buy-in and participation of employees. For businesses adopting this practice for the first time, it’s good to start with a meaningful, but approachable, problem. Get comfortable with the process before applying it to more complex issues.

What is DMAIC?

The Define Measure Analyze Improve Control (DMAIC) model is essentially the framework for six sigma management. Just like PDCA, it’s a methodology for achieving tangible improvement and positive change in the workplace. This strategy focuses on analysis, deliberation and strategy to develop informed and effective solutions.

The Benefits of DMAIC

As the core of the six sigma process, adopting DMAIC is a serious undertaking that can yield major gains when implemented successfully. The “Measure” and “Analyze” stages afford leaders an amazing opportunity to gather hard data about their operations with a great degree of accuracy and relevance. This alone can be invaluable.

The final stages, “Improve” and “Control,” leave plenty of room for deliberation and refinement. Leaders should seek different perspectives, engage in real discussions and accept criticism of different ideas whenever they can. Information is the lifeblood of lean management and fresh ideas keep it in motion.

How to Create DMAIC

Implementing Define Measure Analyze Improve Control in a workplace isn’t hard, but it does take some work. The project needs a scope that limits it enough to make it productive, but not too much to cripple data collection. It’s also important to ensure access to real and complete data from the people, departments and processes in question.

PDCA vs DMAIC: What’s the Difference?

These two methodologies are extremely similar and could be considered viable alternatives for one another in almost any situation. Essentially, PDCA and DMAIC are slightly different procedures for improving workplace operations. They aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive, but it would probably be inefficient and confusing for one company to embrace both models simultaneously.

Both methods start by defining a specific problem and setting the scope of the project’s objectives. The context and goals can be almost anything, from achieving a certain level of sanitation in the store’s bathrooms to getting better customer reviews or higher monthly sales. Ultimately, PDCA is designed for consistent use to achieve a stage of continual improvement, while DMAIC is about making decisive and deliberate changes to address big picture challenges.

PDCA vs DMAIC: Who would use PDCA and DMAIC?

Both methodologies have applications for business management in almost any context, whether it’s mass manufacturing or managed services. These techniques are a way for leaders to shift their management style to address problems, boost growth or cut costs. They are useful for companies of any size and at any stage of development, from fresh start-ups to sprawling corporations.

Choosing Between PDCA and DMAIC: Real World Scenarios

Any business can implement either of these methods and get good results if they do it right. Choosing between PDCA and DMAIC is more about preference and comfort than it is a practical comparison. PDCA is easier to understand, adopt and use in smaller workplaces. It’s a good way to get started and to learn more about management strategy.

DMAIC is an obvious choice for companies that want to embrace six sigma, because this is the same model. This process is also typically slower-paced and more data-driven, which makes it a more comfortable option for leaders who want to really study all their options before moving forward.

Making changes

Many businesses and their leaders fall into the trap of habit and complacency. Management style isn’t something that happens naturally or by accident. Companies can get away with this for a while, but real management is deliberately structured to make meaningful changes. People often struggle with change, which is why businesses need to embrace a process.

PDCA and DMAIC can be powerful vehicles for change in an organization with planning, strong execution and follow-up. Ultimately, the success of either of these two models depends on the commitment and participation of everyone in the organization.

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