Elements of a Quality Management System

You’ve probably seen “Plan-Do-Check-Act” or a similar variation of the phrase, such as “Plan-Do-Check-Certify.” On the surface, those little words are relatively simple to understand, and the idea makes sense. Truly, however, the meaning of the plan-do-check-act cycle is about a lot more than what meets the eye. And it’s important to understand it for the benefit of your business.

Meaning of the Plan-Do-Check-Act Cycle

All businesses – and individual people in their personal lives, as a matter of fact – use processes. PDCA is a tool that can be used to manage these processes and systems.

Based on ISO’s definition, let’s break down the meaning of the plan-do-check-act cycle by discussing it word-for-word, literally.

Plan: Set the objectives of the system and processes to deliver results.

Meaning of the Plan-Do-Check Act Cycle

In other words, determine what you need to do and how to do it.

Do: Implement and control what was planned.

Do what you planned to do, and make sure you do it the way you envisioned it.

Check: Monitor and measure processes and results against policies, objectives and requirements and report results.

Simply put, see if what you planned to do – and then did do – actually worked. How to check and report the results can be detailed and vary depending on your business, but the end goal is the same: verifying that what you did worked out for your benefit.

Act: Take actions to improve the performance of processes.

If you verified that your plans worked and benefit your business, keep it up. If not, figure out how to fix it and make it better by using the plan-do-check-act cycle over again. (By the way, consider using the 5 Whys method to help you understand why it did not work.)

Plan-Do-Check-Act Background

PDCA is also known as the Shewhart cycle, in reference to Walter A. Shewhart’s 1939 book “Statistical Method from the Viewpoint of Quality Control.”

It also may be called the Deming cycle after W. Edwards Deming, who first coined the term “Shewhart cycle” and promoted it based on his mentor’s teachings.

The main benefits of the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle include organization and motivation. PDCA can help businesses stay on track with their goals and make sure they are implemented. Instead of having a great idea and then just leaving it on the back burner indefinitely, the purpose and meaning of the plan-do-check-act cycle is to encourage people to do something about those ideas. Don’t just think it – do it.

Contact Trident QMS for More Information

If you want more information about the meaning of the plan-do-check-act cycle, feel free to ask us! We’ll be happy to give you additional details as they pertain to your specific business. We can be reached through our Trident QMS website or by phone at 520-314-4343.

Meaning of the Plan-Do-Check-Act Cycle


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