Saturday, May 26, 2012

PDCA & SCRUM (or Agile); Why is it important?


The PDCA (Plan DO Check Act) cycle was made popular by Dr. W. Edwards Deming. This is a scientific cyclic process which can be used to improve the process (or product). This is cyclic in nature and usually time boxed.

Plan 
This is the first stage of the process. During this step the team discusses the objectives, the process and the clear conditions of exit (conditions of acceptance). This stage sets the measurable and achievable goals for the team.

DO
Team works together to achieve the objective set in the planning phase. Team works with the set of agreed process.

Check
Once the implantation is done team regroups and verifies the output and compares it to the agreed conditions of acceptance decided during the planning phase. The deviation, if any, is noted down.

ACT
If any deviation in planned tasks is observed during the Check stage, a root cause analysis is conducted. Team brainstorms and identifies the changes required to prevent such deviations in future. Team also brainstorms ideas/process changes (including the scope changes and measurement metrics) which can result in a better process/product in next cycle or iteration.

Anyone with a basic understanding of scrum can correlate the scrum terminologies to this scientific approach.

  • Plan – Sprint planning
  • Do – Actual engineering sprint
  • Check – Sprint review
  • Act – Retrospective 

The process starts with a clear set of aim and acceptance criteria. There is no vague or misunderstanding. This helps to minimize the waste. The group knows what to do and have proper guideline to achieve it. The verification of the planned tasks also happens against the known acceptance criteria. The process helps the team to make small changes get feedback and move ahead. The inspection and adaption helps the team to grow.  The end customer is happy because he can see the output quickly and can make the changes based on the market conditions.

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PDCA
  • http://www.lean.org/Common/LexiconTerm.aspx?termid=287&height=550&width=700


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