Plan-Do-Check-Act in Dictionary

PDCA – Plan-Do-Check-Act

There are many different factors that determine the economic success of a company. Constant optimization and improvement should be taken for granted. This also applies to the quality management of a company. A good tool for this is the PDCA cycle , also known as the PDCA method. According to abbreviationfinder, PDCA stands for Plan Do Check and Act.

If you look closely, the PDCA cycle has some similarities with the Japanese philosophy Kaizen. The cycle describes an iterative process in which you can plan, implement and analyze ideas. A number of measures can be derived from the results that are necessary for the process of continuous improvement. This tool is very well suited for developing new products or processes or for optimizing them. With PDCA, however, you must not make the mistake of seeing this as a complicated method. Rather, it should be viewed as logical thinking. You think about innovations, create a concept for it, try it out and can learn from it and derive further measures.

PDCA for your time management

You can use the PDCA method not only in quality management. You probably also know the situation as a founder or young entrepreneur, that your working day simply doesn’t provide enough hours. You are busy with your company every day until late in the evening, sometimes well into the night. But that need not be. Many hours are sacrificed for activities that actually don’t have to be. With PDCA you can work on your own time management and optimize it significantly in your favor. Simply apply the PDCA cycle and start analyzing your work day. You will quickly find that you can use some of your time more sensibly than is the case at the moment.

Example PDCA cycle on the subject of time management

To improve your time management, you also go through the 4 phases described. The following procedure applies to you.

  1. Analyze your current state . What is your time management like right now? What activities do you need a lot of time for? What do you lack time for at the end of the day? Do you really have to do all the work yourself?
  2. In the next step, you have to deal with ways in which you can make your work day more efficient . Can you delegate tasks? Take a look at the Pareto principle . Surely you can deduce something from it for yourself here. There are also many other tips on how founders in particular can better organize their work. Write down all the possibilities for yourself as if in a brainstorming session.
  3. Once you have found the most important possible work aids for you and your time management, try to integrate them into your everyday professional life over the next few days. After a few days you will take stock of the situation . Did you manage your time better? Have your working days gotten shorter? Is there anything else you can change or improve?
  4. If you are satisfied with the result yourself, you can use the new timing system from now on. The PDCA cycle would then be ended for the time being.

Other possible uses for PDCA

Quality management or time management are just two examples where you can use the PDCA method. In principle, you can always use this tool if you want to improve something or optimize it in the long term. Here are a few more examples of use:

  • to improve products or processes and procedures
  • in the development of new products or services
  • to introduce new procedures and processes in your company
  • as support for the introduction of Six Sigma projects or the introduction of TQM, Total Quality Management
  • Method to improve supplier management
  • as a test in a single area of ​​your company before innovations are implemented for the entire company

Advantages and disadvantages of Plan-Do-Check-Act

Of course, the PDCA method is not the solution for all solutions. Like many tools for improvement and optimization, there are advantages and disadvantages here too.

The advantages at a glance

Benefits of PDCA description
Quality improvement Due to the iterative nature of the Deming Circle, continuous attention is possible. This means that the quality can be continuously improved
Integration With the PDCA method, all employees are part of the entire process. This in turn enables you to better integrate employees and this can have a positive effect on your entire company
Versatile in use You can’t just use the cycle to fix business management issues. In the manufacture of products, too, it is possible to initiate decisive improvements in production as well as in quality control
Can be used indefinitely With the Deming Circle you are given a tool that you can use as often as you want thanks to its clearly defined four phases for every type of situation and goal
Test on a small scale You can use PDCA to check changes, improvements and optimizations beforehand in small tests for effectiveness. If this test is successful, for example only in one area, you can roll it out to your entire company

The disadvantages at a glance

Disadvantages PDCA description
No place for variables The PDCA cycle usually works best when the conditions are perfect and there is no room for variables
Slow progress The PDCA method is a problem solving in 4 phases. This takes time and progress is slow. The method is less suitable when things have to be done quickly
Project standstill An analysis that is too long can lead to a standstill, especially within a project. The PDCA cycle makes precise planning possible, but the real work only comes in the last phase of action
performance evaluation It is difficult for you to evaluate individual performance. The method requires teamwork at every stage

Criticism of the PDCA method

One of the biggest disadvantages of the PDCA cycle is also the biggest point of criticism. You will need to plan a lot of time to use this tool on yourself. You cannot find short-term solutions to problems with this method.