Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The PDCA Cycle

A major premise of a quality management environment is an emphasis on continuous improvement. The approach to continuous improvement is best illustrated using the PDCA cycle, which was developed in the 1930s by Dr. Shewhart of the Bell System. The cycle comprises the four steps of Plan, Do, Check, and Act. It is also called the Deming Wheel, and is one of the key concepts of quality.
· Plan (P): Devise a plan - Define the objective, expressing it numerically if possible. Clearly describe the goals and policies needed to attain the objective at this stage. Determine the procedures and conditions for the means and methods that will be used to achieve the objective.
· Do (D): Execute the plan - Create the conditions and perform the necessary teaching and training to ensure everyone understands the objectives and the plan. Teach workers the procedures and skills they need to fulfill the plan and thoroughly understand the job. Then perform the work according to these procedures.
· Check ©: Check the results – As often as possible, check to determine whether work is progressing according to the plan and whether the expected results are obtained. Check for performance of the procedures, changes in conditions, or abnormalities that may appear.
· Act (A): Take the necessary action - If the check reveals that the work is not being performed according to plan, or if results are not what were anticipated, devise measures for appropriate action. Look for the cause of the abnormality to prevent its recurrence. Sometimes workers may need to be retrained and procedures revised. The next plan should reflect these changes and define them in more detail.

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