Description of the PDCA:
Mukhopadhyay (2020) stated that PDCA refers to a repeated four-step management model that ensures the continuous improvement of products and services in the industry. He also said that in the 1950s, a famous management scholar Dr. William Edwards Deming introduced the PDCA method; therefore, it is also known as the Deming cycle or Deming Wheel. It is a very famous method to solve problems to yield the highest quality result. The full meaning of PDCA is the Plan–Do–Check–Act that is a four-step action method. In addition, it has many names such as PDSA abbreviation of the Plan–Do–Check–Adjust, the Deming cycle or circle or wheel, the Shewhart cycle, and the control cycle or circle.
The Four Stages of the PDSA or PDCA method:
The primary four steps of the PDSA or PDCA are Plan, Do, Study or Check, and Act these are the inevitable elements of the Deming cycle.
According to Moen (2009), the PLAN is the initial step of the four steps method that identifies the problem and opportunities to suggest recommendations. In addition, it analyzes and describes the overall current situation of the project. A team will be recruited to understand the full process of the project in this stage; they will identify the problems that need to be changed, and find out solutions to fix the problems. You have to find out the answers to some basic questions regarding the project. The questions are as follows;
- What is the main problem that must need to be solved?
- What kind of resources do you have now?
- What resources do you just have to have?
- What is the solution that you have taken with resources?
- How long it will take to analyze the problems and implement the planning?
The DO phase is the second stage of the Deming cycle where the testing of the solution starts to execute to identify the results (Moen & Norman, 2006). After completing the planing step, you have to take actions for solving the problems. You will apply your all plans that you have taken in the first stage. Some unwanted problems can emerge in this stage, so you have to be aware to confront them. For increasing your confidence level, you can apply your actions to a small arena in the project. It is a subtle way to control the situation properly as well as avoiding an unpredicted big mistake. All team members stay alert at this stage to play their roles and responsibility. In addition, you with your team members will take some initiatives mentioned below:
- Keep a record of what happened and what is happened?
- When you apply the planning?
- Collect data from the planning stage.
- Try to use a check sheet, swim lane map, and flowchart to capture data.
Study or Check
Moen and Norman (2006) argued that the study or check is probably the most important step of the PDSA cycle. You must have to pay attention to the CHECK stage if you want to scrutinize the output that yielded from the earlier stage. It will help you to avoid repeating mistakes and clarify the success of your planning and applying steps. This stage will give you the opportunity to audit your plan’s performance; you will be confirmed whether the plan is worked perfectly or not. Additionally, your team will identify the problematic portion of the project to eliminate them in the future. You will be able to discover the root cause of the problem if something went wrong. In short, this stage will assess the effectiveness of the system and help you to make the decision whether the theory is helpful or not.
Example: Appraisals or Gap analysis.
- In this stage, you have to answer some questions mentioned below.
- The system is effective or not?
- Do you want to continue this system or need to change?
- Have you made an outline of a list including the unexpected results, failures, successes, and outcomes?
ACT is the final stage of the system that finalize the perfect solution to implement it (Crowfoot & Prasad, 2017). In this stage, your organization should follow adapt, adopt, and abandon factors. Adapt refers to changing and modifying the PDSA circle for the next test. Adopt indicates considering expanding the system to all departments in the organization. Abandon means modify your full approach and repeat the PDCA circle again. In sum, it is the step of standardization that is considered standardized when goals are exceeded.
The Pros and Cons of PDCA / PDSA
Firstly, PDSA is a simple and effective process to resolve a new and recurring problem in the industry (Boaden, 2009). In addition, it is a repeated approach that will allow you to measure results without a waste of time. Moreover, it is a risk-free cycle to apply a small scale in the project; therefore, no need to change the full process if it doesn’t work.
In contrast, the full process of the PDSA is slow when applying the four steps in the industry to yield the final result. It is not a straightforward execution process that can apply in urgent problem-solving issues. Additionally, you need to use some resources including effective team members to ensure that each step of the circle is directed perfectly.
The PDSA cycle has been evolved from time to time to make it an effective process. It can be applied to almost every industry. I am going to discuss how the PDSA cycle came to be and how it has been evolved from time to time.
Dr. W. Edwards Deming
Deming was an American management consultant who graduated as an electrical engineer, later concentrating on mathematical physics (Moen & Norman, 2006). He has become a famous person in the Japanese industry for his work as well as initiatives after WWII. He got recognition as one of the most influential people in the Japanese manufacturing industry who is not Japanese but American. He championed the work of Walter Shewhart including total quality management, statistic process control, and renamed the Shewhart Cycle. He had a great contribution to the rise of the post-war economic growth in Japan.
The Shewhart Cycle
Deming had been inspired by an American engineer Walter Andrew Shewhart who was also physicist and statistician. In 1939, Shewhart published a book on the Viewpoint of Quality Control (Moen & Norman, 2006). It was the first book that articulated a three-stage systematic process of specification, production, and inspection. These three stages were developed to test the hypothesis that carries out an experiment. Finally, he mentioned that these stages should not go as a straight line but it should go in a cycle. Thus, the Shewhart Cycle came up with the process of a circle.
The Deming Wheel
In 1950, Deming analyzed Shewhart’s Cycle to modify it. He introduced a new version of Shewhart’s Cycle that is a four-step of the design, production, sales, and research (Moen & Norman, 2006). This cycle has been known as the Deming’s Circle or Deming Wheel.
Most probably some Japanese executives modify the Deming cycle or Deming wheel into Plan, Do Check, Act (PDCA) although the exact reason for changing the term-name is unclear (Moen & Norman, 2006). This four-step cycle introduced to identify the problems in the industry and solve them by applying four steps together. The prime objective of this cycle is to standardize if the results are satisfying.
When to Apply PDSA
The PDSA or PDCA framework is capable to develop any process or product by splitting into a shorter step (Smartsheet, n.d.). This cycle can be used in every kind of organization in many aspects such as changing management, new service or product deployment, product lifecycle, and so on. This framework is especially useful for assisting the improvement of the six sigma and total quality management process. It is the best option to dig out problems and effective solutions.
PDSA Quality Improvement
The PDSA cycle is one of the most important parts of the quality improvement process in the big industry. Apart from that, organizations apply other quality improvements program that is much complex QI processes.
These more complex quality improvement programs include the following:
- Continuous Quality Improvement: It is also known as the CQI process that organizations apply to reduce waste, increase efficiency as well as increase internal and external satisfaction. It is a management philosophy that assesses how the industry works to develop its process.
- Lean: The lean process is a manufacturing program that makes a business effective by improving efficiency and reducing wasteful practices. This program focuses more on improving services and products based on customer’s demands.
- Six Sigma: The six sigma process is the set of tools and techniques that develop the quality of a process by eliminating defects and minimizing variability in manufacturing.
- Total Quality Management: It is a process of a management system based on practicing a principle that instills good business culture where every employee maintains a high standard of work. It influences the organization to maintain a high quality of service in every aspect of the company.
- Quality Improvement Collaboratives: It is a process that usually applies to the healthcare center in which many organizations work together to develop services for patients.
PDSA refers to a repeated four-step (PLAN, DO, STUDY, ACT) that that ensures the continuous improvement of products and services in the industry. Today, many organizations all over the world use this method to improve the product and service by solving problems.
Boaden, R. (2009). Quality improvement: theory and practice. British Journal of Healthcare Management, 15(1), 12-16.
Crowfoot, D., & Prasad, V. (2017). Using the plan–do–study–act (PDSA) cycle to make change in general practice. InnovAiT, 10(7), 425-430.
Smartsheet. (n.d.). How to Implement PDSA in Your Organization. https://www.smartsheet.com/content/plan-do-study-act-guide
Moen, R. (2009, September). Foundation and History of the PDSA Cycle. In Asian network for quality conference. Tokyo. https://www. deming. org/sites/default/files/pdf/2015/PDSA_History_Ron_Moen. Pdf.
Moen, R., & Norman, C. (2006). Evolution of the PDCA cycle.
Mukhopadhyay, M. (2020). Total quality management in education. SAGE Publications Pvt. Limited.