Deming cycle or PDCA: Stages of Production Management

The Deming cycle, named after the American professor William Edwards Deming, author of many works in the field of management, is an effective model for quality management and business process improvement. This cycle is abbreviated as PDCA (from the English “Plan-Do-Check-Act”, which means “Planning-Action-Checking-Impact (management, adjustment)”.

Let’s figure out what the PDCA cycle includes.

What does the PDCA cycle mean?

The Deming method is widely used to continuously improve product quality and manufacturing processes. PDCA is the simplest manager’s action algorithm that allows you to manage the process and achieve its goals.

The effectiveness of the methodology is achieved through constant checks before, during and after the production process. Such a constant audit allows you to detect weaknesses in the work of the enterprise. With PDCA, you can identify the causes of defects and control the process until the defects are eliminated.

Stages of the PDCA cycle

The Deming cycle consists of the following steps:

  1. The management cycle begins with planning (plan). At this stage, you need to formulate a goal, that is, determine what exactly you want to achieve. To understand what processes are needed to achieve the goals, and then plan the appropriate work, allocate and distribute resources to achieve the goals, you should first analyze the process, figure out what problem is preventing you from achieving the desired result. To look at the problem from different angles, involve the whole team, discuss how and what needs to be improved, after which deadlines can be set.
  2. After developing a plan for implementing changes and determining the result and the method for measuring it, it is time to act (do). At this stage, you begin to carry out the planned work, testing your originally proposed changes. Start the experiment with a little testing, and as you make changes, document what you’ve learned, whether it’s expected results or unexpected results. Implement changes in iterations, watching as your assumptions are confirmed or refuted in the process. The meaning of the execution phase is to collect information about the results of testing, it is on this data that the next stages of the process will be based.
  3. The third step in the PDCA cycle is check. There is also a modification of this model – PDSA, where the letter S means “study” (study). At this point, you should be testing and examining the results to see if there has been an improvement in the process and why. If the expected result was not achieved, you need to figure out why you could not foresee it. After comparing the data with the predictions and analyzing them, your task is to summarize everything that was learned from the test, identify deviations and establish their causes. If the results are satisfactory, you can proceed to the next stage of the Deming cycle, otherwise you should return to the planning phase (plan).
  4. The fourth stage is the action (act), at which the recommended changes are implemented, the detected errors are eliminated, the plan or process is changed. If any flaws were identified during testing, it is necessary to correct the corresponding processes. If the planned results are achieved, processes are stabilized and improvements are introduced.

After passing through all the stages, the Deming cycle is repeated, taking into account the acquired knowledge, as many times as necessary to achieve the goal.

Deming cycle example

The PDCA continuous quality improvement model is applied not only in manufacturing, but also in the IT sector. Consider how you can use the Deming cycle when developing a website.

Stage 1. Planning

The first step is to analyze the tasks to identify the requirements, and then move on to compiling the TOR. At this stage, it is important to understand what the customer needs and what the user wants to receive. Next, you need to agree on the requirements, as well as set the timeline and plan for the necessary work for the first iteration.

Stage 2. Execution

You should complete the first iteration plan. For example, to start developing the main page of a web resource.

Stage 3. Testing

In the third step, you need to check the created home page for compliance with your plan and the expectations of the customer. If any inconsistencies are identified, your task is to understand where the mistakes were made and what the weaknesses are.

Stage 4. Correction

Start correcting mistakes. If necessary, at this stage, you can change the requirements and adjust the work process itself.

The cycle should be repeated until the end of development.


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