The PDCA Model & It’s Role in Continual Improvement

The Plan, Do, Check, Act (PDCA) Approach is a buzz word across many organisations that are looking to improve their systems and processes to ISO 9001 Standards – but what does this actually mean in practice? And how does this help improve an organisations goal towards continual improvement?

This approach is broken down into four stages which each have a roll-on effect to the following. This process is then repeated – giving the opportunity to refine solutions and implement continual improvement.


This stage sets the objectives of what is aiming to be achieved. It will also look at the process to deliver the results. This is important to fully understand the situation at hand and make sure the relevant analysis is in place. Throughout this, it’s important to plan the Design and Development of the study to  identify the areas being addressed and the desired outcome.


This is where the actions of what is planned is carried out. At this stage, controls need to be identified for the operation, as well as product/service requirements. Any non-conformities within the process will need to be addressed. A Non-Conformance Report will help identify the issues and the possible causes.


This step analyses the effectiveness of the previous step and monitors, measures, analyses and evaluates to see if the proper expectations have been met. It is commonly best practice for top management to conduct a Monthly Review Meeting to assess the effectiveness of the system and monitor if any changes need to be addressed.


Following the previous step, this section will involve the actions that have previously been addressed to eliminate the causes of non-conformities. A Corrective & Preventive Action procedure should be followed to ensure that action is taken to remove potential and real causes of the non-conformances.

Following this, the cycle is then repeated again, which leads to further improvements to the quality system. Management will review the outcomes of all audit & review outputs and develop a new or refined objective during the next Plan stage.

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