What is the PDCA cycle? Understand each step in detail

To best answer the question of what is the PDCA cycle, we must first look into some supporting information

In today’s corporate world, competitiveness and excellence make all the difference, more and more companies are seeking ways to enhance their processes to reduce costs, increase profits and improve customer satisfaction.

In this context, strategic planning is a must, and to run it effectively, and continuously managers need to use a methodology known as the PDCA cycle.

But what is the PDCA cycle? How does it work and what particular purpose does it serve?


The PDCA cycle facilitates decision-making and reaching goals

The PDCA cycle was created in the 20s by Walter Andrew Shewhart, an American physicist known for being a pioneer in statistical quality control.

In the 50s it was popularized worldwide by another American, Professor William Edwards Deming, known as the guru of quality management and recognized it for its importance in the improvement of production processes in the US during the Second World War and also for his work consulting with Japanese executives.


The PDCA cycle is an abbreviation of each of the steps that it comprises:

  • P: Plan
  • D: Do
  • C: Check
  • A: Action

PDCA methodology is widely used by corporations wishing to improve their management levels through efficient control of internal and external processes and activities, standardizing information and minimizing the chances of errors in making important decisions.

Importantly, once deployed, the PDCA cycle should become a constant in the company, a real virtuous circle always aiming for continuous improvement.


Also have a look at the Kaizen continuous process improvement system, here:

What is the PDCA cycle?

Check out a brief explanation of each of the four parts to understand better

Plan: A well-designed project is paramount to the PDCA cycle, it prevents future failures and saves a lot of time. Plan according to the mission, vision, and values of the company, set goals and objectives and define the best way to meet them.

Do: After doing careful planning, put it into practice and to the letter, that is, try not to cut corners or improvise. Otherwise, you might compromise the entire PDCA cycle. The stage of implementation is divided into three other steps: training of all staff and managers involved in the project, followed by the process itself and the “harvest” of data for later evaluation.

Check: This is the stage of the PDCA cycle which is used to identify potential gaps in the project. The goals achieved and results are measured from the collected data and process mapping until the end of the process action. The check can and should be done in two ways: in parallel with the implementation, to make sure that the job is being done well, and at the end of it, for a more comprehensive statistical analysis that allows the necessary adjustments and successes to be discussed.

Action: The “final” stage, in which the corrective actions are applied so as to be always and continuously improving the project. It is both the end and the beginning because, after a thorough investigation of what caused past mistakes, the total PDCA cycle is redone with new guidelines and parameters.

Have you ever heard of BPM technology? Business Process Management tools and Business Process Management can significantly facilitate the implementation of a PDCA cycle in your company.

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