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The PDCA cycle, also known as the Deming Cycle or Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle, is a four-step iterative management method used for continuous improvement. The PDCA cycle is widely used in various management systems, including ISO standards.

Here’s a breakdown of each step in the PDCA cycle:

  1. Plan
    • Identify the problem or opportunity for improvement.
    • Set objectives and goals for the improvement.
    • Develop a detailed plan to achieve the objectives.
    • Determine the necessary resources, timelines, and responsibilities.
  2. Do:
    • Implement the plan on a small scale or in a controlled environment.
    • Collect data and information about the process or system.
    • Document observations and any unexpected issues or deviations from the plan.
    • This step is often referred to as “trial” or “test.”
  3. Check:
    • Analyse the data and information collected in the “Do” step.
    • Compare the observed results with the expected outcomes and goals.
    • Identify any variations, trends, or patterns.
    • Determine the root causes of the problems or deviations.
  4. Act:
    • Based on the analysis, make decisions and take appropriate actions.
    • Implement changes or improvements to the process or system.
    • Adjust the plan if necessary.
    • Standardise the improved process or system.
    • Develop guidelines, training, and communication plans for sustaining the improvements.

The PDCA cycle is a continuous loop, where the “Act” step leads back to the “Plan” step to initiate the next improvement cycle. It promotes a systematic approach to problem-solving and continuous improvement by emphasising data-driven decision-making and learning from the outcomes of previous actions.

The PDCA cycle can be applied to various aspects of business management, including quality management, process improvement, project management, and more. It provides a structured framework for organisations to drive ongoing improvements in their operations and achieve better results over time.

PDCA is closely aligned with ISO (International Organisation for Standardisation) standards and is often used as a methodology within ISO management systems. ISO has developed a range of management system standards that provide organisations with guidelines for establishing, implementing, and improving various aspects of their operations.

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