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Plan-Do-Check-Act is a repetitive four-step management model used for continuous process improvement. It was developed by W. Edwards Deming. It results in improved quality and increased productivity in a competitive position. It is also known as the Deming cycle, Shewhart cycle, or the control cycle. Deming himself called it the "Shewhart Cycle", as this model was based on an idea from his mentor, Walter Shewhart who first presented it in the year 1929.



Four phases of Plan-Do-Check-Act



Start by identifying the problem using the 5 whys technique of the root cause analysis. Develop hypotheses about the issues, and decide which one to test. Establish the objectives necessary to deliver results in line with requirements.


Find the potential solution. Test the solution on a small scale and measure the results. This will allow you to assess whether the proposed changes achieve the desired outcome, with minimal disruption to the rest of the operation.



This is also known as the “study” phase. In this phase, the data and results gathered from the do phase are evaluated. The resultant data is compared to the expected outcomes. The “Do” and “Check” phases can be repeated until a comprehensive solution is attained.


In this phase, the processes are improved. The results from the “do” and “check” phases help in the identification of various issues in the process. The solution is implemented in this phase. The cycle is repeated again and again which leads to constant improvement. It is highly flexible and reliable.


Benefits of Plan-Do-Check-Act

  • It stimulates continuous improvement of processes.
  • It lets you test possible solutions on a small scale and in a controlled environment.
  • It prevents the process from recurring mistakes.
  • It provides a standardized method to achieve continuous improvement that can be used by employees in any department to resolve new issues.
  • It prevents wastage of time implementing ineffective or inferior solutions.
  • It fosters teamwork through brainstorming and problem-solving techniques.
  • It helps to overcome obstacles internally which makes it inexpensive.



What makes PDCA effective?

The Plan-Do-Check-Act Cycle makes it easy to understand the framework for iterative improvement. It depends on real-life experiments, and forces teams to review the data and evidence in order to draw conclusions. As it is based on the scientific method, it can be viewed as a proven approach that can reliably produce improvement.

One of the main benefits of implementing a PDCA cycle is that there is a difference between each iteration that is tested. This will, in turn, lead to a reduction in waste and increased productivity in the long run.


Uses of PDCA 

Process Improvement: The PDCA cycle is a continuous loop of planning, doing, checking, and acting. This makes PDCA the ideal model for the implementation of new projects. The inbuilt plan, test, and feedback mechanism of PDCA allow fixing and improving at the implementation stage of the process. The plan-do-check-act cycle breaks the project into small manageable steps and allows gradual incremental improvements.


Change Management: PDCA cycle helps in managing change effectively. It provides continuous improvement because it works in a cyclical way. Each part of the project will go through the same phase multiple times, ensuring that errors can be corrected and adapted to the needs and the actual situation of the corporation.

Quality Management: PDCA is the most widely used tool for implementing Total Quality Management, and is the basis for the Six Sigma DMAIC initiative. It helps plan data collection and undertakes a statistical analysis of the data to verify and prioritize problems or root causes of issues. It keeps the process under control and encourages the development of innovative changes to ensure quality improvement.


Performance Management: One of the main benefits of the PDCA cycle is the reliability and greater efficiency in the performance of projects within a company, allowing for better planning in strategy development and fault detection.


Plan-Do-Check-Act Conclusion

Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle is a simple framework for fixing issues on any level of an organization. It helps in exploring a wide range of solutions to the problems and testing them in a controlled environment before implementing it on a large scale. It can be used in all sorts of business environments, from new product development, project and change management, to product lifecycle and supply chain management.

One of the best examples of the PDCA cycle is its application in the healthcare industry. PDCA is also used as a framework for executing Kaizen, a strategy used for continuously tuning the products and processes that focuses on the importance of eliminating waste.

Guest Contributor Bio: Jane Thomson is a Content Marketing Manager at GreyCampus with five years rich experience on developing content for professional certification courses like PMP- Project Management Professional, PMI-ACP, Six Sigma, Prince2, and ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library).

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