Dr. J.Edward Deming, the famous quality guru, provided a simple yet highly effective technique that serves as a practical tool to carry out continuous improvement in the workplace. This technique is called PDCA Cycle or simply Deming Cycle. PDCA is acronym of Plan, Do, Check and Action. Deming Cycle provides conceptual as well as practical framework while carrying out Kaizen activities by the employees. Let’s understand the concept with following illustration:
The four steps Plan, Do, Check and Action should be repeated over time to ensure continuous learning and improvements in a function, product or process.
For example if employees want to improve either of the above areas, they should ask themselves about following question during the PLANNING phase of this cycle:
- What are we trying to accomplish?
- What changes can we make that will result in improvement?
- How will we know that a change is an improvement?
PLAN stage involves analyzing the current situation, gathering data, and developing ways to make improvements.
The DO stage involves testing alternatives experimentally in a laboratory establishing a pilot process, or trying it out with small number of customers.
The CHECK stage requires determining whether the trial or process is working as intended, whether any revisions are needed, or whether is should be scrapped.
The ACT stage focuses on implementing the process within the organization or with its customers and suppliers.
Once all this stages are completed to the fullest satisfaction, the improvement is standardized. The standardized work or product is the result of improvement initiative but it is not stopped here. With the changing circumstances or new techniques this standardized work, process, product or service is again subjected to further improvement thus repeating the Deming Cycle again and again.