Solutions
Solutions
Solutions
Solutions
Buy
   Home  » Solutions  » Project Methodologoies  »  PDCA Cycle - The Plan Step

Task Management Software

By Profession
By Application
By Management
Checklists
»Project Methodologies
How To's
Products
Articles
Success Stories

VIP Task Manager Professional

Play VIP Task Manager demo Play Demo >>

  Authorization

Login:
Password:
Register
Forgot your password?
Login As:
Login As
You can log in if you are registered at one of these services:

PDCA Cycle - The Plan Step

 

All Travel Checklists

The Plan step of the PDCA cycle is the first action you need take to start your improvement project. It is the step when you identify and describe a problem, determine a process that’s affected by the problem, define the root cause of the problem, and identify possible ways or solutions to solve the problem. Your focus is put on current processes running within your organization. Your goal is to analyze the processes and determine those ones having troubles and thereby requiring improvement.

The Plan step can be regarded as a sequence of activities. It means that you can use an activity-based approach to complete the step and identify a solution for your process problem. Below we suggest the five key activities to accomplish the Plan step:

  • Process Identification
  • Process Definition
  • Problem Identification
  • Root Cause Determination
  • Solution Identification

An activity-based approach admits using simple tasks to do these activities. It means that every activity can be represented as a series of tasks. Such an approach makes it easer for you to manage the entire step as well as its individual activities.

VIP Task Manager will be best for you to use the approach and divide the mentioned activities into simple, more manageable tasks. Let’s find out what goals you need to address by the activities and what tasks can be created in VIP Task Manager to complete the activities.

Process Identification
The first activity in the Plan step of your improvement project is to identify which process you want to improve by the project. You have to review current processes running within your organization and determine those having some troubles (such as performance gaps or deviations). For example, the manufacturing process is adversely affected by time waste and employee overload, so these troubles indicate a need for further attention and investigation.

Here’s a list of key goals you need to address to identify a problem process and select an improvement project:

  • Measure existing processes
  • List processes demonstrating poor performance
  • Set select criteria for your improvement project
  • Make a details description of the project and its objectives
  • Choose a process to be improved by the project

When identifying a process for improvement, it is important to select an early project that will lend credibility to process success. Such a project should be reasonably easy to do and should give significant results. Similar care should be used when balancing project cost, defining potential benefits, and evaluating chance of success.

Process Definition
Once your have identified the process for improvement and selected the project, now you need to define the process and allocate human resources required for doing the project. Process definition will help you assess the best chance of success and ensure that the meaning of success for the current process is established and clear for people involved in the project.

You must be sure that your improvement project has the right people with the right skills sufficient to make change to the process. Here’re key goals you need to accomplish to define the process and allocate project resources:

  • Identify resources needed (including team members and their expertise and knowledge, training and facilitation, skills and abilities)
  • Gain commitment from senior management to support the project
  • Build, recruit and train the team
  • Ensure the team gains a basic understanding of the process problem to be addressed
  • Understand the background and purpose of the process to be improved
  • Define objectives and expected outcomes of the project
  • Create success measures to evaluate how well project objectives are met
  • Decide what performance data to collect and how to use this data
  • Make initial plans for future improvement stages

Among these goals, the most challenging one is to gain commitment of human resource, because completion of this task requires you to take people away from their priority jobs and engage them in your improvement project.

Problem Identification
In order to identify what specific problem(s) of the process to address, you need to grasp current performance of the process in sufficient detail. This activity will enable you to identify process parts which are in need of attention and analysis. It usually requires more detailed information than it’s available for you when your improvement project is first selected during Process Identification.

Here’re key goals to be accomplished for performing the activity and identify the problem:

  • Review performance measurements of the process for the last several months
  • Identify if the process showed poor performance within the period
  • Define reasons of poor performance
  • Define potential problem areas
  • Select the most challenging problems
  • Use priorities to rank the problems by importance
  • Revise you project plan to reflect new knowledge about the problems

When you identify problems to be addressed, it is better to select only one or several problems, because multiple challenges will require you to make multiple changes to the process, and thereby it will be difficult afterwards to determine effectiveness of each change.

Root Cause Determination
Doing this activity of the Plan step lets you find out what key factors cause the problem and makes the process fail. Root-cause analysis will help you to get a better understanding of key causes and ensure that the problem will be removed or resolved, rather than just mitigated or treated.

You can try to complete the following goals to determine problem causes:

  • Use a root-cause analysis to list possible factors adversely affecting the process
  • Identify those factors having the greatest impact to the process
  • Consider the factors as key causes of the problem
  • Determine measures to assess impact of the causes
  • Design experiments to verify the causes
  • Measure your process to verify that the causes are root, as suspected

In real practice, you may have a temptation to skip this stage of the Plan step and go directly to the next stage "Solution". Although this attempt may work, it can also result in a solution that addresses problem symptoms or minor causes, rather than the root cause, and should thereby be resisted.

Solution Identification
When root causes have been determined and verified, now you can try to generate potential solutions, narrow them down and define those having the greatest positive impact to the process. Solution identification should also ensure that it does not result in other problems outside the selected problem area.

The following goals should be completed to identify the best solution for your process problem:

  • Use cost-benefits analysis to identify possible solutions that fix the identified root causes
  • Select a subset of possible solutions having the highest efficiency
  • Identify feasibility of the selected solutions
  • Examine related processes to ensure that the solutions will not negatively affect them
  • Design experiments to verify the solutions
  • Test the final solution

The major goal among the listed ones is to identify a solution that shows the highest efficiency, requires the lowest costs, and is the most feasible as compared to other potential solutions for process improvement.

Tasks in VIP Task Manager
In order to accomplish the activities and their goals, we suggest the following task list which is supposed to be the Plan step checklist:

  • The Plan Step
    • Process Identification
      • Review existing process measurements
      • Find poorly performing processes
      • Determine customers, their needs, expectations and satisfaction level with these processes
      • List criteria for selecting an improvement project
      • Describe the selected project
      • Establish goals of your project
      • Select a process to be improved by the project
    • Process Definition
      • Identify resources needed (including team members and their expertise and knowledge, training and facilitation, skills and abilities)
      • Gain commitment from senior management to support the project
      • Build, recruit and train the team
      • Ensure the team gains a basic understanding of the process problem to be addressed
      • Understand the background and purpose of the process to be improved
      • Define objectives and expected outcomes of the project
      • Create success measures to evaluate how well project objectives are met
      • Decide what performance data to collect and how to use this data
      • Make initial plans for future improvement stages
    • Problem Identification
      • Review performance measurements of the process for last several months
      • Identify if the process showed poor performance within the period
      • Define reasons of poor performance
      • Define potential problem areas
      • Select the most challenging problem(s)
      • Use priorities to rank the problems by importance
      • Revise you project plan to reflect new knowledge about the problems
    • Root Cause Determination
      • Use root-cause analysis to list possible factors adversely affecting the process
      • Identify factors that have the greatest impact to the process
      • Consider these factors as key causes of your problem
      • Determine measures to assess impact of the causes
      • Design experiments to verify the causes
      • Measure your process to verify that the causes are root, as suspected
    • Solution Identification
      • Use cost-benefits analysis to identify possible solutions that fix the identified root causes
      • Select a subset of possible solutions having the high efficiency
      • Identify feasibility of the selected solutions
      • Examine related processes to ensure that the solutions will not negatively affect them
      • Designing experiments to verify the solutions
      • Test the final solution

You can use VIP Task Manager to create this checklist and tasks. The software features Task List view to add and manage simple tasks. It also features Task Tree view to build categorize checklists, templates and to-do lists. Please try an evaluation copy of VIP Task Manager to create the checklist and start doing your process improvement project.

CentriQS Tasks Management Solution new

Looking for multi-user task management software? Try CentriQS complete task management solution for planning, tracking and reporting tasks, projects, and schedules. Increase productivity of your small business or office by better organizing your employees' tasks and time.

FREE Download CentriQS

Software  
CentriQS new -15% OFF
All-in-one business management software
for small and midsize enterprises

VIP Task Manager
Multi-user project management software
to plan, schedule and track project tasks.

VIP Checklists
More than 750 ready-to-use to-do lists
to plan your personal and business life

VIP Team To Do List
Professional task management software
to make and send team todo lists by email

VIP Organizer
Personal time management software
to organize time at home and at work

VIP Simple To Do List
Simple and effective to-do list software
to plan daily chores, trips, wedding, etc.

  Products *Solutions* Download Buy Support Contact My Account 

  Copyright 2004 - 2017 VIP Quality Software, Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

 
Site Map
Legal Information