PDCA What Does It Mean



PDCA stands for Plan-Do-Check-Act. It is a continuous process used to improve processes and operations in any organization. It is a popular tool to identify problems and opportunities for improvement. It is also a very effective way to ensure that any changes made improve the quality of the output of a process.

Let’s take a look at the four key steps in the PDCA cycle:

  1. Plan: Identify the problem or opportunity and develop a plan of action.
  2. Do: Implement the plan and measure the results.
  3. Check: Analyze the results and compare them to the expected outcome.
  4. Act: Take corrective action if needed and document the results.

Definition of PDCA

PDCA, which stands for Plan-Do-Check-Act, is an iterative four-step process that is used for continuous quality improvement. It was initially formulated by Dr. W. Edwards Deming in 1950 and is also known as the Deming Cycle, Shewhart Cycle, or Deming Wheel.

The PDCA framework or cycle focuses on setting objectives and introducing improvement activities in a logical sequence that can be repeated when needed.

The PDCA Cycle consists of four stages:

  1. Plan: Establish objectives and processes required to deliver results in line with the organization’s strategy and vision;
  2. Do: Implement processes to achieve the desired result;
  3. Check: Monitor results against targets set in the Planning stage;
  4. Act: Analyze findings from the Checking stage, decide if any further action is necessary, then return to the first step of Planning for further improvements.

The continuous cycle of planning-do-check-act helps organizations to identify problems, create solutions to address those problems, measure their performance over time, and make adjustments as needed in order to achieve their desired outcomes.

What Does PDCA Stand For?

PDCA stands for plan, do, check and act. It is an approach to process improvement that is based on repeated cycles of planning, testing and analyzing results. Each cycle should result in an improved process which continually gets better as it goes through the PDCA cycle.

This cyclical approach is one of the most effective methods for continuous improvement and can help organizations become more agile and efficient.


Plan is the first step in the PDCA cycle, short for Plan-Do-Check-Act. It involves outlining the problem that you want to solve and setting objectives based on your observation. This involves breaking down the problem into manageable parts, including defining a solution and developing an action plan for implementing it.

At this stage, a team should brainstorm all possible solutions and strategies as well as identify the resources required to implement them. This includes researching the options available and evaluating their potential for success. The process of planning should result in well defined expectations for cost, time and effort required to achieve goals and objectives a project seeks to accomplish.


The fourth and final letter of PDCA stands for “Do“. This is the action phase of the cycle, where team members put their plan into practice and make the change a reality. It involves everyone involved in making sure that the project runs smoothly from start to finish.

During this phase, it’s important to check regularly to make sure that everything is running according to plan. Goals should be laid out and monitored, so any corrections or adjustments can be made if there are problems encountered along the way. Once complete, team members can review their work with a critical eye in order to identify any lessons learned – allowing them to better equip themselves for future projects.

The Do phase is an opportunity for team members to demonstrate their individual effectiveness as well as develop an understanding of teamwork:

  • Check regularly to make sure that everything is running according to plan.
  • Lay out and monitor goals.
  • Make corrections or adjustments if there are problems encountered along the way.
  • Review work with a critical eye in order to identify any lessons learned.
  • Demonstrate individual effectiveness.
  • Develop an understanding of teamwork.


The PDCA cycle is a popular strategy employed by many individuals and organizations to improve tasks and processes. The acronym stands for: Plan, Do, Check, Act.

Each element of PDCA represents a specific step in the improvement process:

  • Plan (P): The Planning phase involves establishing goals for the process and creating an action plan to achieve those goals. This requires identifying areas of potential improvement, analyzing the current situation and developing policies and procedures to guide improvements.
  • Do (D): During this phase, activities necessary to achieve the planned objectives need to be carried out and implemented. Monitoring performance must begin at this stage to ensure that desired outcomes are achieved.
  • Check (C): The ‘check’ phase of PDCA involves actively monitoring progress against planned objectives or benchmark standards. Any deviation from ‘normal’ or expected results should be analyzed in order to determine why the deviation is occurring so it can be rectified and performance improved.
  • Act (A): Obtaining feedback from all stakeholders involved in the improvement process helps gauge whether results are as expected (or better!). If they are not, it is necessary to review processes/activities using techniques such as root cause analysis then design corrective strategies needed to bring performance back on track.


The fourth step of the PDCA Model is ‘Act’. It is the final stage where all the iterative data gathering and analysis from prior stages are rolled out into action. This step requires testing and validating results to ensure that performance criteria have been met, as well as publishing and communicating outcomes across the organization. The aim of this step is to ensure implementation of successful changes and establish mechanisms to regularly review processes, procedures, or products.

It is critical to recognize that ‘Act’ also includes contingency plans in case things do not work out as planned in order to protect against any unforeseen consequences of a proposed change or new system being put in place:

  • Developing backup plans in case of failure
  • Testing and validating results to ensure performance criteria are met
  • Publishing and communicating outcomes across the organization
  • Establishing mechanisms to regularly review processes, procedures, or products

Benefits of PDCA

PDCA stands for Plan-Do-Check-Act and is a business process improvement method used by organizations to improve their products, processes, and services. This method has been used for decades and is known for its efficiency and effectiveness in improving quality, optimizing processes, and increasing customer satisfaction.

Let’s explore the various benefits of using the PDCA method:

Improved Quality

The PDCA cycle is a useful tool for managing projects, processes and strategies in organizations. The Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) approach, also known as the Deming Cycle or Shewhart Cycle, is an efficient way of maintaining quality and helping organizations to continually improve their processes. By utilizing the four steps of the PDCA cycle, companies can hope to achieve higher levels of quality, leading to improved productivity and ultimately greater customer satisfaction.

  1. Plan: The first step in the PDCA cycle is planning. This includes defining which metrics will be used to measure success, identifying potential problems or areas that need improvement, determining objectives or goals and designing test activities to improve processes.
  2. Do: Once a plan has been created it’s important to implement it in order for any improvements to be made. Gathering resources such as personnel, materials and equipment necessary for successful implementation can help result in positive outcomes. It’s also important during this step to track changes made so they can be analyzed later on with accuracy.
  3. Check: After implementation it’s time for analysis – did your implementation plan yield expected results? To answer this question teams must collect data from previously identified metrics and compare them against set goals or objectives in order to get a clear picture of performance effectiveness. Any discrepancies found should then require further investigation into how better results could be achieved on future projects/processes through improved strategy implementation.
  4. Act: Once you noted observed discrepancies identified through the ‘check’ stage it is necessary to act quickly on the required modifications needed for improvement purposes – did certain strategies need replanning? Were any new measures implemented? Was stakeholders’ feedback taken into account? It is critical that effective action occurs after analyzing data gathered so that ultimate process optimization can take place thus reducing potential failure next time same project/process occurs again.

Increased Efficiency

The PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act) cycle is an iterative four-step approach used to continuously plan, improve, and control process effectiveness. This method is often referred to as the Deming Cycle or Shewhart Cycle after its originators, W. Edwards Deming and Walter A. Shewhart respectively. By implementing PDCA throughout an organization, improved processes are developed faster than conventional methods and the organization experiences increased efficiency and customer satisfaction.

The four steps in the cycle are as follows:

  1. Plan – Develop the strategies, resources and documents necessary to support the project to meet specific goals;
  2. Do – Carry out any changes according to plan;
  3. Check – Evaluate the results of your action;
  4. Act – Make any necessary improvements or modifications that arise from analysis of results.

By continuously repeating this cycle, organizations are able to continually seek out improvements in their products and processes that promote efficiency, quality assurance, customer satisfaction and cost savings for all involved. The use of this method promotes continual improvement in business operations by providing guidance on how to identify issues before they become problems with quality or productivity losses. It helps companies quickly test a change with data collection tools which allow validation whether it was successful before applying it throughout the whole operation.

Reduced Costs

The Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle is a continuous improvement tool used to identify problems and develop solutions. The method consists of four steps: plan, do, check, and act. In each step, the process is replicated to ensure positive and continual improvements are made over time. When implemented properly, this system can lead to substantial reductions in costs.

  • Plan: This stage involves analyzing existing data or processes in order to devise an action plan that will increase efficiency or reduce cost.
  • Do: Once the plan is formed, it is put into action so that you may assess if it was successful.
  • Check: This stage includes review of metrics and any other analysis that may be conducted to measure progress towards goals set in the “plan” stage.
  • Act: If necessary changes are identified during the “check” stage then they must be put into effect as soon as possible in order for the organization to remain competitive with other organizations. The “act” stage should also be used to verify that any changes implemented are indeed having a positive impact on your organization and helping reduce costs.

In summary, using a PDCA cycle can help organizations increase efficiency by identifying opportunities for improvement, making changes based on those findings, verifying those changes have had a positive impact (i.e., reduced costs), and taking action when necessary—all without sacrificing quality or customer service levels during the process.

How to Implement PDCA

PDCA stands for Plan, Do, Check, and Act. This cycle provides a systematic approach to problem solving and continuous improvement of processes and products. It helps to identify areas of improvement, analyze problems and define corrective actions.

This article will discuss how to implement PDCA in order to get the most out of it.

Establish Goals

The first step in successfully implementing the PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act) cycle is to establish your goals and a plan of action. To accomplish this, you should:

  1. Define the problem you are trying to solve. It can be helpful to prioritize the issues and start with one problem at a time.
  2. Clarify the goal of your action plan. What do you hope to achieve?
  3. Establish measurable criteria for success or failure in regards to solving the problem or reaching your goal.
  4. Craft a detailed measurement system that will allow you to track progress and make adjustments throughout each step in the cycle process, especially during the “check” stage. Qualitative or quantitative measurements may be necessary, depending on what information you wish to track and analyze over time.
  5. Take inventory of essential resources needed for successful implementation of your plan; these might include human capital, financial resources, equipment or materials necessary for completing tasks related to solving problems or reaching goals within a specific timeframe/budget range; take into account any external factors that could support or hinder progress as well as internal safeguards against unforeseen developments that could cause delays or derailment of plans altogether; have contingencies in place where appropriate; document plans at each step for easy retrieval and reference during future implementations of the PDCA cycle process if needed.

Monitor and Measure Performance

The fourth and final step in PDCA is to monitor and measure performance. This requires taking a look at the results that were generated from the action plan. Once implemented, changes should be analyzed and assessed to gauge their effectiveness. This is the main element of this cycle that allows businesses to recognize areas of improvement, as well as evaluate the impact of change on performance indicators.

For changes to be properly evaluated, it’s essential to set a baseline before any action is taken. Establishing benchmarks enables businesses to compare pre-and post-implementation data effectively—enabling them to easily identify successes, areas of improvement, or failure altogether.

To ensure effective monitoring and measuring of performance, organizations may also want consider employing external consultants or benchmarking expertise for even more accurate analysis within the PDCA cycle:

  • Employ external consultants
  • Benchmarking expertise

Analyze Results

Once you have completed the action phase of the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle, it is important to take the time to analyze what has been accomplished. Analyzing results is a key step in understanding whether or not you are achieving your desired outcome or making progress towards your goal. This is also an important opportunity to consider if any adjustments that may need to be made in order to optimize performance.

Typically, data will need to be collected and evaluated as part of this step. This might include checking customer feedback, financial performance, or employee satisfaction surveys. It is also important to consider any unforeseen circumstance that may have influenced the results of your actions. It can be helpful in this step to use data analysis tools such as spreadsheets or other analytics programs. Make sure that you are taking enough data into account so that trends can be identified and strategic decisions made from the analysis of this data.

Once you have identified what has worked well as well as areas for improvement, another key part of analyzing results is engaging with stakeholders in order to develop solutions and ensure a successful future implementation of PDCA cycles moving forward. This includes:

  • Addressing issues raised during process review meetings
  • Communicating changes
  • Sharing recommendations across all involved stakeholders within each cycle.

Take Action

After completing the PDCA cycle, you are ready to take action and make changes in your process. The first step is to decide what kind of processes need improvement and how you can implement those changes efficiently. This includes considering both short and long-term goals and creating a plan for achieving them.

Once you have identified potential improvements, you can begin making and monitoring your changes with PDCA. Implementation should start with small changes that are easier to manage and have less risk attached, so that their success or failure will not throw off the entire process. After each change is made, it’s important to collect data on its effectiveness before moving on to the next one.

As changes start to take effect, it’s vital to continue tracking their outcomes with qualitative (surveys, interviews) and quantitative (measuring tools) tools. You should measure these indicators frequently, as they could indicate further areas or actions that could improve your processes even further down the road. Through ongoing analysis of their impact over time, you can learn more about what works best for your organization and how to continue improving into the future.


In conclusion, PDCA is a simple but highly effective cycle for business problem-solving. It helps to create an action plan and then systematically break down processes into smaller, easy-to-manage steps. By tracking these mini processes, it provides key insight into areas for improvement and allows for continuous improvement cycles that can be monitored over time.

Ultimately, with regular use and accurate assessment of data, PDCA can be effective in helping a company achieve significant improvements in its operations.