04 Jun 2018Posted By: Mudit Handa

What’s the significance of PDCA Cycle in enhancement of Quality Management System?

The fundamental rationale behind undergoing the ISO certification process is the attainment of an appropriate level of compliance with the global standards of quality and management. However, the journey towards sustained business growth does not end here, as the continuity of the quality efficiency is maintained throughout the business journey only by consistent adherence to the acquired quality standards.

It is undeniable that for proper and sustainable business growth, one needs to conform to different ISO standards, of which the ISO 9001 certification is of core importance, as it comprehensively expounds the chief aspect of client satisfaction. However, for the desired goal of consistent quality management, there is a need to adopt the principles of strategic management supplementary to the adherence to the acquired quality standard.


The most fundamental of all types of ISO standards, i.e. the ISO certification 9001 lays out specific guidelines on the strategic management for continual growth and enhancement of the QMS of any organization. In this regard, there is a remarkable strategy called Plan Do Check Act or PDCA Cycle that effectively assists in the constant improvement of the QMS.


#1. When was the PDCA Cycle introduced?


This action plan was first introduced by the prominent Quality Guru Dr Walter A. Shewhart, who is also referred to as ‘the father of statistical quality control’ in his 1939 book- “Statistical Method from the Viewpoint of Quality Control”. Hence, it is also known as the Shewhart cycle.


#2. What is all about the PDCA Cycle?

Plan Do Check Act or PDCA Cycle is one of the most prominent and effective strategies for consistent quality control procedures that involves 4 successive and recurrent stages for the control and continual upgrading of processes and products in an organisation. It includes-

  • Plan: Involves setting of objectives of the QMS and Clear-cut processes to deliver results.
  • Do: Involves implementation and control of the proposed objectives.
  • Check: Involves regular monitoring & reviewing of processes and results against the defined policies and objectives.
  • Act: Involves taking of suitable action for improvement of the performance.



#3. What is the importance of different stages in the PDCA Cycle?

Different components of the PDCA cycle are explained as below-

  • Plan:


  Your corporation must have an annual planning cycle consisting of-

  1. stakeholders,
  2. vision, mission & policy for QC,
  3. Long-term objectives,
  4. budget & resources,
  5. risk management actions,
  6. documented information,
  7. achievements, and
  8. The launch of new product or process.



ISO 9001 certification emphasizes these planning elements in 7 spheres-


  1. Maintain QMS
  2. Document QMS
  3. Leadership
  4. Planning
  5. Manage Resources
  6. Plan Product Realization
  7. Control Monitor & Measurement Equipment


  • Do:

Under this, you are required to execute the proposed steps regularly, preferably on a monthly basis. This practice helps in constant evaluation and analysis of the annual plans as regards-

  1. competency
  2. aims, growth, Realization
  3. Procurement
  4. Goods & Service Provisions


  • Check:

This part has been referred to as ‘Study’ in Deming’s PDSA cycle. Besides doing regular steps you need to check or study the data. Here you need to regularly inspect and analyze our performance. This is mainly done by interpretation of the data


The ISO 9001:2015 standard clearly defines various check processes as follows-

  1. Management Reviews
  2. Monitor & Measuring
  3. Customer Satisfaction
  4. Internal Auditing Data Analysis


  • Act:

On careful analysis of the performance, certain loopholes can be detected. A wise entrepreneur is supposed to rectify them in between the annual plans. This step is essential because corrective or preventive measures should be necessarily taken to remove the glitches to smooth growth.

ISO 9001 certification enlists clear action steps as below-

  1. Nonconforming Product
  2. Corrective Action
  3. Risk Management


#4. Which are those exceptional organisations where PDCA Cycle has been successfully implemented?

There are many influential names in this list. However, a few exemplary models relate to the following companies-


  • Toyota Group- Established by Sakichi Toyoda in 1926, the Toyota Group has always relied on the principle of Kaizen (in Japanese- “Change for better”). The leaders have so far implemented the PDCA processes to realise their ideologies of constant improvement.
  • Nestle- Being world’s largest food company in the terms of revenue, Nestle owes its secret of success to the PDCA approach with the ideal notion that even the smallest improvements must be made as they can eventually lead to big savings.
  • Lockheed Martin- An American entity catering to the aerospace and defence industry, and imparting advanced security solutions, Lockheed Martin has exhibited remarkable instances of cost management during 1992-1997, when it made 38% reduction in manufacturing costs, 50% reduction in inventory and reduction in delivery time from 42 to 21.5 months.


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