PDCA/PDSA is a four-stage iterative approach for continually improving the processes by Walter A. Shewhart and Edward Deming. This is a 4 step management method for better control and continuous improvement.

P(lan) D(o) C(check) A(ct)/ Plan-Do-Study-Act i.e Continually Improving, in a Methodical Way

PDCA by Mindtools

Phases of PDCA/PDSA

The phases or steps of the PDCA/PDSA cycle are linked together by results – the result of one step becomes the input to another.

  • Plan: identify and analyze the problem or opportunity, develop hypotheses about what the issues may be, and decide which one to test.
    • What is the core problem we need to solve?
    • What resources do we need?
    • What resources do we have?
    • What is the best solution for fixing the problem with the available resources?
    • In what conditions the plan will be considered successful? What are the goals?
  • Do: test the potential solution, ideally on a small scale, and measure the results.
  • Check/Study: study the result, measure effectiveness, and decide whether the hypothesis is supported or not.
  • Act: if the solution was successful, implement it.

It is also known as the Deming circle/cycle/wheel, the Shewhart cycle, the control circle/cycle, or plan–do–study–act (PDSA).

PDSA/PDCA cycle is a simple and effective method for organizations of all sizes and types, as it allows them to test changes in a controlled and scientific way, and to adapt and improve their processes based on the results. By using PDSA/PDCA, organizations can continuously improve their processes and products, and achieve better results for their customers, employees and shareholders.

Example of PDCA/PDSA

An example of how the Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) cycle can be applied in a real-world setting is as follows:

  1. Plan: A hospital wants to reduce the number of patient falls in the emergency department (ED). The hospital staff identifies that a major contributing factor to patient falls is the lack of bed alarms, which alert nurses when a patient gets out of bed. The goal is to reduce the number of patient falls in the ED by 50% within six months.
  2. Do: The hospital staff decides to test the effectiveness of bed alarms by implementing them in a small section of the ED. They train nurses on how to use the alarms and monitor the results.
  3. Study: After a month of using the bed alarms, the hospital staff analyzes the data and finds that the number of patient falls in the test area has decreased by 70%. This is a significant improvement and shows that the bed alarms are effective in reducing patient falls.
  4. Act: Based on the positive results from the study, the hospital decides to implement bed alarms in the entire ED. They also plan to continue monitoring the results to ensure that the number of patient falls remains low.

By using the PDSA cycle, the hospital was able to test a new idea and make changes based on the results. This helped to improve patient safety and reduce the number of patient falls in the ED.

Further Readings

  1. Process groups
  2. Project Life Cycle vs Product Life Cycle vs Project Management Process Groups
  3. KanBanize.com

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