Lean Methods: PDCA

The Plan-Do-Check-Act-Cycle (PDCA), also known as Demingkreis or Shewhart-Cycle, as a model for optimising the quality management in companies. It is an integral part of the Lean-Management philosophy and an important prerequisite for continuous improvement in the development and manufacture of products and services or for the root cause analysis.

The four phases of the PDCA Cycle

Of all the tools for quality improvement, the PDCA Cycle is the most important. It describes the basics of an improvement process and structures it into four phases.

Phase 1: Plan (planning)

IIn this phase the problem and the actual state are described, the causes for problems are analysed and the target state is enunciated. In addition, measuring values for achieving the target state are defined.

Phase 2: Do (implementing)

During this phase, measures that were defined in the planning phase are implemented. At this stage mainly those employees are involved who participate in solving the problems. It is important that all activities of the Do-Phase be documented.

Phase 3: Check (verifying)

In this phase, the experience gained and results achieved in implementing the measures are reflected upon and the measures are adjusted if necessary.

Phase 4: Act (acting)

IIn the final phase of the PDCA Cycle, the experiences gained during the process of problem solving are evaluated and standards for future action are derived from it. If, during the Act-phase, it becomes clear, that the goal has not been achieved, the PDCA-Cycle starts anew.

The PDCA-Cycle in practical application

The continuous application of the PDCA-Cycle is necessary for a sustainable optimisation of the quality management within the company. It is a precondition that the management level pursues a strict quality policy and passes this on to the employees.