What is PDCA and how does it support continuous improvement in quality control efforts?


Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) is also referred to as Plan-Do-Check-Adjust or the Shewhart Cycle. It is a four-step method popularized by Deming for implementing and managing change, supporting continuous improvement efforts, developing and organizing processes. PDCA also complements many other commonly used quality tools, such as brainstorming, grid analysis, GANTT charts, etc. The example below discusses the concept of PDCA by examining the quality control of a widget. Plan - Identify what you want to do and how you can achieve the results. Identify hindering factors that could affect you achieving the results you want. The problem or process should be well defined and analyzed. For the widget example, let's say the result we want is to ensure the quality of widget orders meet the required target of less than 3% defects. "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail." ~Benjamin Franklin Do - Devise a solution. Put your plan into action by identifying specific tasks that support the goals noted in the planning phase. Always track efforts and results. For the widget example, develop a detailed product specification. Review it with internal staff, the supplier and on-site inspectors. "There are risks and costs to action. But they are far less than the long range risks of comfortable inaction." ~John F. Kennedy Check - Compare results to expectations. Did you achieve the results you wanted? What are the deviations and issues? For the widget example, review the inspection reports from pre-shipment inspections. "There is no such thing as failure. There are only results." ~Tony Robbins Act - Keep doing what works and improve on what's not. Standardize a solution. For the widget example, incorporate in-process inspections to resolve issues prior to 100% completion. Final pre-shipment inspections would be required before shipment release. Review the specifications and training process ongoing to reflect any changes. "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." -Albert Einstein PDCA is a model for everyone, whether it's used for business or personal planning and decision-making. Contact us to learn more, or discuss how PDCA can be incorporated into your quality assurance goals and objectives.

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