PDCA cycle

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PDCA cycle - short version

See "plan-do-check-act cycle." A strategy used to achieve breakthrough improvements in safety, quality, morale, delivery cost, and other critical business objectives.

PDCA cycle - long version

PDCA (plan–do–check–act) is an iterative four-step management method used in business for the control and continuous improvement of processes and products. It is also known as the Deming circle/cycle/wheel, Shewhart cycle, control circle/cycle, or plan–do–study–act (PDSA).

The steps in each successive PDCA cycle are :


Establish the objectives and processes necessary to deliver results in accordance with the expected output (the target or goals). By establishing output expectations, the completeness and accuracy of the specification is also a part of the targeted improvement. When possible start on a small scale to test possible effects.


Implement the plan, execute the process, make the product. Collect data for charting and analysis in the following "CHECK" and "ACT" steps.


Study the actual results (measured and collected in "DO" above) and compare against the expected results (targets or goals from the "PLAN") to ascertain any differences. Charting data can make this much easier to see trends over several PDCA cycles and in order to convert the collected data into information. Information is what you need for the next step "ACT".


Request corrective actions on significant differences between actual and planned results. Analyze the differences to determine their root causes. Determine where to apply changes that will include improvement of the process or product. When a pass through these four steps does not result in the need to improve, the scope to which PDCA is applied may be refined to plan and improve with more detail in the next iteration of the cycle.


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