Plan – Do – Check – Act (PDCA) Cycles

Posted on January 13, 2013 by


This is the first of a 4 part post on PDCA cycles.  This installment will focus on the “Plan” of PDCA cycles:

P     Plan            Strategy like your business plan or specific business goal

D    Do              Tracking what you do

C    Check         Actual performance against the goal/plan

A    Adjust        Corrections or adjustments made to get you back on course or change course


This where the “PLAN” to do something gets created. The PLAN should be very specific about what it is you want to do or to change. It should show the steps/process for making the change and what you think will happen. Strategic plans, for example, represent the PLAN for change that the company has in place to meet the goals for the year. It has the PLAN for how to meet the goals for each area that the company measures it’s performance in (i.e. safety, quality, customer satisfaction, employee involvement, productivity or cost reduction).

For each metric, the goal is defined (i.e. for quality = 1.0 errors per thousand), the steps to get there are listed (implement quality circles to provide customer feedback to employees, implement error proofing strategy, 100% audit of customer order, etc) and what the end result of those steps will be (reduced quality errors by 10% per month to achieve goal by end of year).

This PLAN is usually developed at the top levels of the organization and then trickled down to the successive levels. As the PLAN trickles down to each level in the organization, it gets more specific for that level/process owner. Feedback from those responsible for implementing the plan help to refine the strategy. Each level builds on the other to support the overall organization:

CEO ===> Division Mgr ===> Department Head ===> Process Owner/SME ===> Front Line Worker

In theory, if each level makes the goal, the overall organization/group makes the goal.

CEO <=== Division Mgr < === Department Head <=== Process Owner/SME <=== Front Line Worker

In order for the organization to make the goal, each level needs to make their specific goals. Every aspect of the business should have a PLAN. At each level, everyone should know what the PLAN is and their role in implementing the PLAN. At every level, the PLAN is implemented….the "Do"  part of PDCA….

Next Installment: The "Do" of PDCA

Posted in: Management