A Proven Improvement Methodology

Posted by Roxanne Chugg

Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) is a four phased improvement methodology used to facilitate improvement.  I use it a lot to help my clients work through improving what they do…

Here are the four stages involved:


The cycle begins with the Plan phase.  The purpose here is to understand the problem or the opportunity, the processes and relationships involved, to understand what’s currently occurring and what’s causing the problem(s). This is the ‘thinking and planning’ stage where a sound understanding of the problem and its causes is developed.  Only when we understand the problem and its causes thoroughly can we move to considering what solutions might possibly fix it.


The second phase is the Do phase.  This is a critical phase as we move towards implementing our solutions to solve the problem(s).  Without a formal implementation plan to make the change or improvement happen, the solution has a high risk of failing at this point.  This is the time for ‘implementing and doing’ where the desired improvements are implemented to achieve actual improvement.


The Check phase is for ‘monitoring and evaluating’ where we verify that the implementation of our solutions has been effective and have in fact resulted in improvement as we intended.  It is also the point where we verify the outcomes our improvement has achieved.  These can be both intangible and tangible e.g. improved morale (intangible), improved client feedback or $ saved from making a process more efficient (tangible).


The Act phase is for ‘adapting and making the changes stick’.  The successful parts of the overall plan – the identified improvements - are incorporated into the processes, product or service to ensure the improvements are sustained and that we don’t slip ‘back into old habits’.  This is also the point where policies and procedures may be updated in the organisation’s management system and training or communication occurs to share the “new way of doing things”

Next week Roxanne will share the steps involved and the tools that can assist you make improvement happen in your organisation….