The Shewhart Cycle can be valuable for all dimensions of business, from customer service to manufacturing efficiency. One area where a large number of companies apply the principles of the cycle is in quality assurance. Quality assurance is a critical field for companies that create important products that their customers look to for support.
The application of the Shewhart Cycle to quality assurance processes can be broken down based on the four steps of the cycle itself: plan, do, check, and act. Each step holds value for businesses that are interested in making sure that what they produce is closely aligned with the goals of the company. To understand why the Shewhart Cycle is such a successful method of managing quality assurance, consider how each step of the cycle is applied to different areas of quality assurance.
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In the first phase of the cycle, you need to define what your quality standard is. Think about what you would and would not accept as a customer of your own organization. Once you recognize what is acceptable by your quality standards, you must similarly identify what is unacceptable so that you know what elements should not be present in your production. To complete the first step of the cycle, come up with a set of policies and guidelines that will help your team stay within the boundaries of acceptable quality.
In the second step of the Shewhart Cycle, you will be implementing the plan. This is the phase where you make changes to existing policies so that they are more in line with your new standards of quality management. This step may require some training or education, especially if you are planning on putting into place widespread changes that are different from what you currently have as a policy currently.
The third part of the Shewhart Cycle is where you review the results of your new policies and guidelines. Remember that you will want to have a sufficient block of time from which to draw an analysis of your new procedure. It could be two weeks or two months before you analyze how successful your new policies are, depending on the type of work that your organization does and how important its quality control policies are. Remember to use all of the tools you have available to gather and analyze data; there are plenty of solutions available for companies that want to aggregate and interpret a large amount of data all at once.
The final step of the cycle is where your company will decide what needs to be changed based on the results you observed in the third phase. For example, maybe your new policies have led to improvement across the board, except one area that has gone down in quality. You need to look at your current quality assurance policies and determine how to get improvements in this area. The Act stage is what allows you to intelligently respond to the results of the Shewhart Cycle so that you can ensure steady improvement.
Why are these four steps so important to your quality assurance? They represent a focused, easy-to-understand way to consistently improve your company’s quality management. Using the Shewhart Cycle can be a critical launching board for success with quality management.