The Plan-Do-Check-Adjust (PDCA) cycle is the backbone of an improvement event. It is a four step model for carrying out a change. Here is a real life example of what PDCA can look like:
Plan: Recognize an opportunity and plan a change. Collect Baseline Data and gather information.
Auxiliary Services identified an area that needed improvement. Problem Statement:
“Cash accounting and financial reporting is decentralized and inconsistent among the operational units of the Memorial Union, Dining Services, Merchandising and Rozsa Center. This is causing: unclean month end reports, delays in deposits and remittances, and stopped work when employees are out.”
Do: Observe and analyze the current process, design an improved process, test the change.
A team was formed and met for five days. They analyzed problems and brainstormed solutions. As a result, by day five a new cash accounting process was implemented.
A hub and spoke model was created, and the 16 operational units began sending their accounting to the newly created “cash hub.” Each operational unit would submit a daily cash bag to the cash hub. The hub model allowed for the following:
- A controlled environment for cash accounting to be completed
- Staff specialists in cash accounting
- Work that continues even if an employee is out
Check: Review the new process and monitor the results. Is it working?
Cash hub staff continued to collect data and performed additional monitoring of the new system. A few areas for improvement were observed:
- Numerous bag errors being submitted to the hub
- Numerous hours were spent fixing and deciphering the errors
- 2 new units need to feed into the hub
- No time to handle new units
Adjust: Modify and make improvements as needed. Continue to check and adjust, or PDCA again if the change didn’t work.
Standardized work sheets and visual aids were created to help the staff at each operational unit submit an error free bag. Feedback loops were also created for error tracking. As a result of their monitoring and continued improvements, the Auxiliary Services cash hub has been seeing results.