Sunday, December 12, 2004

Plan vs. Actual--Part 1

Plan vs. Actual--Part 1

Have been thinking and observing a lot on the concept of "Plan vs. Actual." I'll probably be writinig a bit about this in the next few weeks and I'll try to make it interesting.

A mainstay of any solid Lean implementation, Plan vs. Actual (or, I'll abbreviate as PvA) is a rigorous application of Deming's famous "Plan-Do-Check-Act" cycle. In short, it says that we predict ahead of time what we think will happen. Then we do the task. We measure whether or not we actually saw what we thought would happen, usually in a binary, "yes/no" way. Then we say "What did we learn?" and do it again.

Most companies utilize the obvious ways PvA measures, such as:

  • Number of items manufactured vs plan
  • Expenses vs Budget
  • Deliveries on time

What has always impressed me in really good Lean companies is just how many, many more ways they use PvA than ordinary firms, how frequently they measure, how simple and visual the measurements are and how it drives learning throughout the company. Such as:

  • Measuring items manufactured, plan vs actual, by the hour, not by the day or the month.
  • Budget numbers delivered weekly, not monthly
  • Number of days they deliver on-time through a month, not just the monthly percentage.

What happens when we shorten this cycle time of PvA? How do keep track of it? How do we learn, in the busy-ness of work life?

I'll write more and I hope it is helpful.

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