A generic improvement tool that can be applied to solve problems and test ideas. The cycle is an iterative process, which is why PDCA is often referred to as the PDCA improvement wheel or is also known as the Deming circle/PDSA).
Plan: Identify the problem (e.g. using 5 x Why – Identify root cause using cause-effect diagram), change, or idea and afterwards collect and analyze data.
Do: Develop, test, and implement the solution.
Check: Measure and confirm the results with before-and-after comparison to identify adjustments.
Act: Implement adjustments and identify full solution to be documented, stabilized, and standardized.
The Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) Cycle provides a simple but effective approach quality management to problem solving and managing change, ensuring that ideas are appropriately tested before committing to full implementation. It can be used across industries and in different scale.
It begins with a Planning phase in which the problem is clearly identified and understood. Potential solutions are then generated and tested on a small scale in the “Do” phase, and the outcome of this testing is evaluated during the Check phase. “Do” and “Check” phases can be iterated as many times as necessary before the full, polished solution is implemented in the “Act” phase.
When ready for a full scale improvement (baseline established), another improvement tool is the DMAIC (Define-Measure-Improve-Control) Model approach: See the process compared with PDCA below: