How to Improve Your Stock Control with the PDCA Cycle

Clothing Stock
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All about Quality Management
What is PDCA Cycle?

What are we going to see in this article?

How the PDCA Cycle Works

O PDCA Cycle is one of the most famous quality tools and aims to ensure the continuous improvement of processes. The acronym comes from the terms Plan, Do, Check and Act, and these are precisely the stages in which the cycle unfolds.

PDCA Cycle

Understanding Inventory Management Problems

In theory, stock management seems a simple thing. A company needs to get the products purchased, store them and deliver them at the time of sale. The problem is that in practice you are discovering problems that a management course did not anticipate possible. There are a number of challenges in stock management, but I've separated the ones I consider most common below.

Stock is stranded - you were interested in a product, felt that it has synergies with your customers for resale. He talked to the vendor and the minimum draw that he agrees to sell are 1.000 units. For your store is a lot, but you really believed in the potential of that product and decided to make a first purchase to test it. He puts it in the window and he does not sell it at all. There went away storage space and available working capital that you engaged in the transaction and will not recover so soon.

How to Use PDCA Cycle to Improve Your Stock Control - Stranded StockShopping and Stock Do not Talk - the purchasing person buys units of products that are not missing and forgets the products that are coming out the most. Or buy the same amount of both, just by thinking only part of the process, forgetting the sales. Another common mistake is the one responsible for the purchases making large orders, unaware that the space available for the stock is full.

There is a mismatch of stock - by not having correctly noted the inputs and outputs of products, whether by purchases, sales, returns or losses, your control tool (notebook, spreadsheet, system, etc) shows a different number of products in relation to what there actually is. Sometimes you may also be sinning at this because you do not have any tools for it.


I do not know when to buy a product - a customer asks for a product, you go in stock and realize that it is the last unit. So you remember that the delivery time for this supplier is at least 30 days. Congratulations! It will be 30 days without selling that product. You should have made an 30 request days before, but your process is flawed.

My co-workers are robbing me - who has a retail also knows that this is a common problem. But one must understand if this is a flaw in the process or pure sheer bad faith.

All the problems listed above are likely to be solved or at least greatly reduced through optimization of the inventory management process. That's where you need to know. What is PDCA and what are its 4 steps,

Using the PDCA Cycle to Improve Your Inventory Control

The application of the PDCA cycle is somewhat simple:

  1. You start by naming the main problem of the process being optimized.
  2. It then maps the main causes of the problem.
  3. He begins to draw up plans of action to solve the causes of the problem.
  4. Execute the action plans and check if they have helped improve the process, making it faster and / or less costly.
  5. Checks if the issue is resolved. If not, restart the cycle. If yes, start the cycle for another problem

Curve ABC Stock: What is it and what is it for?

I'm going to exemplify this article with the problem "My products run out because I do not know when to buy more" but you can use the method for any of the problems listed above, or others that affect your business more. Make a business diagnosis, to find out which problem to focus on before.

Using the PDCA Cycle to Improve Inventory Management - Problem

Mapping the causes:

Using the PDCA Cycle in Inventory Management - Causes

The causes can be related to materials, inaccurate methods, labor-unqualified, machinery and equipment, environment and measurement. We put notes on the side of the causes to understand what we will act first.

PDCA Cycle

From the mapped causes, we will draw and control the action plans:

Using the PDCA Cycle in Inventory Management - Action Plans

Then it is necessary to check how the action plans are helping in solving the problem:

Using the PDCA Cycle in Inventory Management - Action Plans

In the end, you need to understand not only whether the problem has been solved, but also whether the inventory process has improved as a whole.

  • How much do you estimate you lost before you started the PDCA Cycle?
  • Have the proposed solutions increased its cost?
  • Has the process gotten faster or slower?

If you conclude that it was worth implementing the solutions you had planned, restart the cycle by picking up a new problem this time:

Using the PDCA Cycle in Inventory Management - Problem Solved

If you believe the problem has not been resolved, or the solution set can still be improved, restart the cycle for the same problem.

Using the PDCA Cycle in Inventory Management - Unresolved Problem

PDCA Cycle Sheet

If you enjoyed the wonders that the PDCA cycle can do for your management processes, we have a ready-to-use spreadsheet and even the images used as an example were taken from it. Start using today!

PDCA Cycle

Inventory Control Worksheet

To keep your inventory up-to-date, you need to use a product entry and exit control tool. Take inventory of your inventory on a regular basis and study deadlines to buy.

If you are interested, our Inventory Control ready worksheet automates a lot of this work.


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