Sep 16, 2019

Technical library

PDCA: why not a version 2.0?

Continuous improvement of a system can not be achieved without a quality assurance system. This means organizing the responsibilities, procedures, processes and resources for quality management. In addition, it is essential to set up a quality management system, constituting the set of techniques of management, organization and management of a company, oriented towards a constant improvement of the quality.

In order to demonstrate the continuous improvement of a business, regardless of the sector (building, banking, cosmetics), it is essential to use the PDCA methodology. This is what is explained within de norm ISO 9001 version 2015 « Quality Management System – requirements ».

The PDCA or « Deming Wheel » is a basic tool, widely used for the continuous improvement of quality. It is built as follow :




  1. Plan. This part corresponds to the planning and the preparation of workload to be performed, and setting goals and tasks.
  2. Do. This step is about implementing tasks mentioned previously.
  3. Check. Measures results and compare them with forecasts.
  4. Act/ React. This final step consists in correcting, making decisions by identifying causes drifting between what have been done and new intervention points.

Although useful for striving for excellence, there are limits to the use of PDCA. Let’s take the example of a Quality Assurance (QA) engineer who has been hired. His mission was about the creation of a Quality Management System of the company. Even if it appears that it seems easy to create an action plan, following norm ISO 9001 version 2015 « Quality Management System – requirements ». Concerning the QA engineer’s point of view, who does not know every processes of the company, how to succesfully lead this project?

In fact, the project has begun with internal audits in the company. In addition to a desire to improve services of the company, this experience allowed the newcomer to understand every processes taken one by one, and the interaction between these processes. Moreover, it appears that the company has been audited few months earlier by an external service provider. The report of the audit mentions guidelines to follow in order for the company to becertified ISO 9001 version 2015.

The results? This first step dedicated to internal audits allowed the engineer to understand the intrinsic functioning of the company. This is a step of Observation.

This preliminary step allowed to put in place an action plan (like a project management) with a definition of resources needed, people involved and deadlines. This is the Planning step.

Then, the employee was able to perform previously defined tasks like writing quality documentation, creating indicators and satisfaction survey. This is the Do step.

Check step is about the creation of indicators and satisfaction surveys intented to measure gaps between what has been done versus what was expected.

Finally, the « Act » step allows to define and set up corrective action plans, in order to make the project more efficient. This step appeared at the moment when the company received the report of the audit, sent by the external services provider. This report mentions that the certification ISO 9001 version 2015 is granted, provided that the company set up the improvement actions required.


OPDCA or PDCA ? Both alike, those two versions bring a significative help for the improvement of a product, a service, or a company. It is interesting to keep in mind that an observation step has a high added value in project management.

It was the OPDCA. The continuous improvement of a tool for the continuous improvement.


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