Plan, Do, Check, Act
Make smarter, structured choices and changes. Avoid repetitive problems through analysis and monitoring of the continuous improvement process.
PDCA (also known as Plan, Do, Study, Act – PDSA) is a four step method for change planning and control. Because the method is circular, improvement can continue indefinitely.
Program Overview - PDCA
Have a problem? Recognize an opportunity? Whatever you’re trying to do, it starts with planning.
Once you have your plan ready it is time to test the solutions. Consider to test on a small scale.
With the data collected from the test (do-step), you now have to evaluate the data and study the results.
Based on your analysis of the data, you can implement the best solution or make minor adjustments.
The articles listed below will teach you tools and knowledge to help you identify problems and root causes and make better plans.
Can we help you?
Do you have questions? Please get in touch with your questions, comments and suggestions.
You have now reached the end of the self-study program “Plan, Do, Check, Act”.
We hope, that it has already proven valuable for your and your business.
Our self-study courses may be updated with new articles and tools. Therefore, we recommend to sign up for the newsletter, so you don’t miss out on new knowledge.
One of the great things about the PDCA method is that you can continue to solve problems, improve processes and optimize other aspects of your business.
May we also suggest that you continue learning about these methods or maybe even hire someone to help you out with your efforts.
Please let us know if you can help you on your journey or if you have questions.
About PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Act)
Why should I learn about PDCA?
If you are struggling with repetitive problems, lack of structured changes and improvement then the PDCA program is for you.
You will learn the tools to identify root causes, make corrective action plans which will prevent problems rather than just fixing them temporarily – as well as other tools and knowledge that can enhance the way you manage changes and knowledge in your business.
What is PDCA (or PDSA)?
PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Act) or PDSA (Plan, Do, Study, Act) is a four step, iterative method focusing on structured improvement or problem solving. The method was made popular by William Deming.
The PDCA method is generally considered one of the cornerstone methods of continuous improvement through structured problem solving and quality management.
The method is used in a number of different philosophies including LEAN and various project management frameworks.
When should I use PDCA?
A controlled and structured process for problem solving is always recommended.
We recommend PDCA when dealing with one or more of the following (or something else where you feel the method fits the purpose):
- When planning an improvement project (project management, change management).
- When you investigate a problem, use the method to identify root causes and test corrective actions.
- Implementing quality management.
Pros and Cons of PDCA
- Adaptability: The model is very flexible and adaptable in the sense that it can be used in a great number of business scenarios, environments and industries.
- Easy to implement on a basic level: The model does not have any prerequisites. This means that any business can implement the philosophies of the PDCA method. When we write “on a basic level”, what we mean is that if you want to fundamentally change the way you work across your business, it may not be so simple – see under “Cons” below.
- Simplicity: The model is relatively simple and easy to understand. You can use the tools (within the model) that make sense for your project – i.e. it is not an extremely rigid framework.
- Can be hard to do: While the model itself is simple, the work and tools needed can require serious effort and knowledge. Because everything is broken down into structured steps, the work can be slow (but doesn’t have to be).
- May require changes in your management system: As described above, the model does not have prerequisites. However, if you plan on implementing the model on a business-wide scale, then you may need to make other changes to your management system. We are here to help if you need it.
Further information about the PDCA model
Below we will briefly describe each of the four steps in the PDCA (or PDSA) method.
William Deming himself preferred to call the model for “Plan, Do, Study, Act” as he thought that “study” (meaning analyze) was a more appropriate word than “check” (meaning control) for the work in this part of the model.
Whether you are seeing an opportunity for improvement or you have a problem you want to solve, you need a plan. That is why the first step of the PDCA model is called “Plan”.
In our PDCA self-study we provide you with tools and knowledge about root cause analysis, corrective action planning, risk assessment as well as how to create processes, procedures and goals (to measure performance).
These tools (and possibly more), you can use while you plan your change.
After you have a plan, you need to test it. That is what the “Do” phase is for.
It is generally recommended to start with a small-scale test before going full-scale with your change.
In this step of the cycle, it is very important that you gather data during your test. You need to analyze this data in the next step (Check). Therefore, we have included information about change management, reporting and performance monitoring in this part of our PDCA self-study.
Check or Study
The “Check” or “Study” step is where you need to analyze or control your data and results.
A powerful tool for this is auditing, which can be used as a structured analytical tool.
However, you may also want to apply other methods during this phase to identify the appropriate results from the testing in the “Do” phase.
Finally, we have the “Act” step. Here, you need to take action based on the results found as a result of the previous steps in the PDCA cycle.
If the results of the testing have been satisfying, you can implement your change.
If you have identified problems during your testing, you can start the process over for these issues in order to identify the root causes of your problems.
It is important that the PDCA or PDSA cycle is an ongoing process in your business.
The subjects and articles in the self-study program are listed in the order by which we suggest you go through the program.
You are welcome to pick and choose articles based on your knowledge and experience.
Want to know more?
If you want to learn even more about the Plan, Do, Check, Act cycle (PDCA), please get in touch.