Business Center

Plan Do Check Act (PDCA)

Plan-Do-Check-Adjust method for improvement

Plan-Do-Check-Adjust (PDCA) is an iterative four-step management method used for the continuous improvement of processes and products, and for carrying out change projects.

plan
The visioning process in the context of the Business Plan/Action Plan, meaningful to all levels of the process/organization
do
Answer the what’s, how’s, and who’s for your process / organization
check
On a periodic basis, review the measurements and note what you’ve learned that can help in the future
act
Make the necessary adjustments to processes, plans, and priorities in order to ensure the success of the strategy breakthroughs
Name of Improvement Project:

1 PLAN

What do you want/need to improve, and why.

How much “impact” do we need to get (how much improvement) - including a clear, measurable target (goal) that quantifies that desired impact.

Who is in charge of making this improvement happen, and who is helping.

2 DO

Implement a) “quick hits”, and b) other items that require additional analysis and/or testing -- using good project management practices.

QUICK HITS (“Just Do It’s”)

Task
Person Responsible
Start Date
 Deadline
Dependencies and other notes
Task 1:
Task 2:
(etc))

ITEMS REQUIRING ADDITIONAL ANALYSIS AND / OR TESTING

Task
Person Responsible
Start Date
 Deadline
Dependencies and other notes
Task 1:
Task 2:
(etc))

3 and 4 CHECK and ADJUST

Some useful considerations for developing PDCA plans:

  1. Impact: what needs to be improved, and why – Build a solid business case: why is it important to do this, and what – specifically – does the impact need to be. Don’t be wishy-washy: what impact is needed, and how are we going to measure whether we achieved that impact. This impact is typically OUTSIDE the project itself: some impact that the organization and/or customers need.
  2. Person responsible (WHO) - This is the person who has stepped up as the individual to bring a task/action item to completion. It should be their commitment and not an arbitrary assignment. Individuals must have the accountability – don’t be vague by assigning a task to “everyone”. The responsible person can be part of a team or head up a team/group; however, accomplishments happen much more effectively when one person "has it" and can draw on others to help, as needed.
  3. Tasks (WHAT will be done) – These are specific accomplishment goals. On a larger task, it should be broken down into smaller monthly (or weekly) pieces... Break the larger goal down so it can be able to be accomplished in one month, or less.
  4. BY WHEN: Start Date, and Deadline – These are specific commitment dates. Terms like "ongoing" has no place here; "ongoing" can often translate to "never-ending", or just “never”. The specific date must be agreed to by the WHO (above) and NOT arbitrarily assigned by someone else. The results are reported out on or before the agreed date.

There are two acceptable outcomes:

  • The task is done by the specific commitment date and reported on accordingly- great! OR
  • There is an earlier recognition that the deadline won't be met, and the WHO contacts the Project Leader to make them aware. This may result in an acceptable new date, or a re-arrangement of priorities and/or resources to still meet the original date

The unacceptable outcome: 

  • The date is missed without any early communications, the task is not done, and follow-up with the WHO has to be scheduled by the Project Leader – in Lean, this is one form of Waste.

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