Breaking your process improvement project into phases
will help. As you finish one phase, then decide which one to
Refine Your Process as You Go
Finding the right balance between enough planning and efficient doing is essential. And after sufficient planning, simply
getting started is key. Plan, Do, Check, Adjust (PDCA), a process improvement model created by W. Edwards Deming, can
help your company strategically implement improvements as
your new business process grows.
PLAN, DO, CHECK, ADJUST
There are some variations in complexity and approach, but
broken down practically, the steps of PDCA can be applied
1) Create enough of a plan to provide some structure
to your project.
2) As you start executing on your plan (doing), also
schedule a time to gauge progress and success.
3) When the scheduled date arrives, have the team
meet to check progress to plan.
4) Adjust or refine your plan based on what you
PDCA is an easy and effective way to structure proof of concept or pilot tests when starting something new. By scheduling the check, you inherently limit not only the scope of the
initial project or phase, but also your risk.
You’ll find your team members are more comfortable getting
started on a project (even without a perfect plan) because
they understand that there will be ample opportunity to
course correct along the way.
Be sure to schedule the checking step – don’t just “plan” to
schedule it in the future. Projects have a way of picking up
momentum and you could easily fly by the checking step and
miss something important that needs to be adjusted.
Just Get Started!
If process improvement is going to become your business
norm, it’s critical that you adopt a PDCA mindset as you follow this guide. Create enough of a plan to guide your work,
schedule your checking step to identify adjustments, and
most importantly, just get started! n
JUDI MAGNUSON, Senior Director of Learning Services
for Sage Construction and Real Estate in Beaverton, OR,
is responsible for the development and delivery of product training for customers, consultants and colleagues. In
addition, Judi developed training programs for troubleshooting, facilitation, coaching, career development and
It was Judi’s participation in an organizational redesign
project for Timberline Software that introduced her to the
principles of Lean and how they can be used to improve
business processes. As Director of Sage Professional
Services, Judi applied these principles with several key
customer accounts and in workshops she taught at customer and partner conferences.
How to Make
the Practical Tips and
Tools on page 22 to help guide you
through process improvement.