Published 31 Jan 2023
What is PDCA?
The PDCA or Plan-Do-Check-Act is a four-step cyclical method used to streamline business processes and continuously improve product and service quality. Through a continuous application, PDCA cycle aims to observe how processes work, recognize rooms for improvement, identify which methods work best in addressing problems, and verify the effectiveness of implemented solutions.
Use this template in creating a comprehensive step-by-step action plan while implementing the PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act) method. This PDCA template contains a general set of details applicable across industries and can be used in different sectors. Use this template in SafetyCulture (iAuditor) to easily:
- Understand and fill out specific details needed for each part of the plan.
- Apply and answer all items chronologically according to the PDCA cycle.
- Include essential information such as the project name, initiator, and location and start date of the plan.
In this article
- Stages of PDCA
- How Does it Improve Your Business
- What is a PDCA Template?
- Monitor PDCA Cycle Through a Digital Platform
- PDCA Templates
The PDCA method is used when teams are developing any new products, starting a new project, implementing any change, or when a continuous improvement is generally sought. It is also utilized to avoid repeating previous mistakes and errors in operations.
The step-by-step approach of PDCA also offers time-saving opportunities by proactively catching ineffective solutions before implementing them on a larger scale. Furthermore, the PDCA cycle is versatile and can be applied across multiple industries and various sectors.
Stages of PDCA
The stages of the PDCA cycle consist of four steps and are implemented repeatedly for Continuous Process Improvement (CPI). It can be modified based on the result of each cycle and maximized to its full potential with each use. Let’s look at each step individually.
This initial stage identifies the problem, spots inefficiencies in the process, and establishes the goals and objectives of the plan. It contains existing data such as standard, methods, and procedures currently used.
It should also clearly state the schedule to follow and present possible solutions to the problems identified, or alternatives to improve the current process. The completion of this stage should feature the main framework or the action plan to perform, including the steps and the individuals involved.
This is the execution stage—perform the steps defined on the first part and test possible solutions—but on a smaller scale. The goal at this stage is to recognize which of the alternatives work best for the project before fully implementing it.
Observe the accomplished results and compare them with the predicted outcome according to the action plan.
This stage evaluates the initial test done with the goal of identifying its effectiveness. Monitor the result using the measures indicated and assess if there’s room for improvement or if it works according to its purpose.
If adjustments are needed, go back to the first stage—Plan—and repeat until a comprehensive solution is reached. If it’s considered a success, proceed to the next step.
On a larger scale, this stage implements the best solution identified to tackle the problem initially identified. Document and measure the results obtained, and validate the problem-solving process for its effectiveness.
Note that the PDCA method is a cycle and it is best used incrementally if a continuous improvement is sought. Use the action plan as a standardized baseline, evaluate if there are further opportunities for improvement, and modify after each cycle to make it even more efficient.
How Does it Improve Your Business
Similar to the approach of the Japanese business philosophy Kaizen, the PDCA cycle aims for continuous improvement. It is used by organizations to enhance current processes and execute operations efficiently. Below are three common business processes that use the PDCA approach to improve performance:
- Health and Safety – PDCA method is commonly used to describe occupational health and safety management in both the HSG65 and ISO 45001 standards. Organizations use this approach to have a clear understanding of the goals, easily quantify the results based on the indicators provided, and improve processes by spotting inefficiencies in the health and safety systems and adjusting them accordingly.
- Quality Management– One of the widely used methods of monitoring quality assurance as well as complying with quality management system or the ISO 9001, is through the PDCA system. It analyzes existing procedures and methods, builds hypotheses through the gathered data, and executes tests continuously to spot any issues or room for improvement in the process. Through this method, organizations can work to continuously improve products and avoid recurring mistakes.
- Compliance with Industry Standards – The PDCA approach is also performed to streamline conformance to industry standards and other industry regulations. This eases the monitoring process and helps in successfully determining opportunities to operate efficiently.
What is a PDCA Template?
A PDCA template is a tool that organizations use in implementing the PDCA business approach. It serves as a guide in executing a plan and carrying out the changes initially identified.
According to the set goals and objectives, templates offer a comprehensive overview of the plan from start to finish, and help in spotting inefficiencies that need to be addressed.
The various templates used for this approach depend on the industry and specific needs of the business. Through a comprehensive PDCA Template, companies can easily monitor the progress of the plan and proactively execute any changes needed to improve business performance.
Monitor PDCA Cycle Through a Digital Platform
The PDCA cycle involves a lot of data, changes, and updates per project. It should be streamlined for an easier review of the people involved and should also serve its documentation purpose by storing all relevant information for easy access. SafetyCulture (formerly iAuditor) is a digital platform that industry leaders can use in monitoring PDCA cycles across industries and it offers the following features:
- Cloud-based recordkeeping for easy and safe access to data
- Secure storage for information where you can compare previous and current statistics to monitor the plan’s effectiveness
- Custom creation of PDCA templates according to project specifications and business needs
- Analytics feature where businesses can visually monitor trends every cycle and spot inefficiencies in the process
- Scheduling and automated notifications for recurring cycle checks, helping your organization reach optimum result
PDCA Template - Planning Checklist
This template is based on the “Plan-Do-Check-Act” cycle. Use this template to establish OH&S objectives by identifying hazards and determining legal requirements, among others. Create implementation plans to achieve continuous improvement in your OH&S management system.