ISO 9001:2015 Insight: Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA)

by Breda Kearney | March 4, 2019 | Blog , ISO 9001:2015 , Quality , Uncategorized , |

Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) is a four-step model that is used throughout quality management systems for implementing changes and continuous improvement activities. It can be applied to people, products, services, processes and procedures.

Plan
Identify what needs to be done to address a problem, bridge an identified gap or make an improvement.
Questions to consider include:

  • What do we need to do/ what is the goal?
  • What steps do we need to take to meet our goal?
  • What resources do we need and are these available?
  • Are there any risks to achieving our goal and how will these be addressed?
  • How will we know that the plan was successful?

Do
The agreed plan is implemented using the required resources and actions are taken to address any identified risks.
Its important to note that even with the best planning, unpredicted problems may arise during the implementation phase. Dependant on the scope and extent of the plan, it may need to be implemented initially on a small scale in a controlled environment prior to larger scale roll out.

Check
The Check stage of the PDCA cycle is possibly the most important stage of the PDCA cycle.
During this stage, you need to make sure that:

  • Plans have been implemented effectively
  • Actions taken to address risks were effective.
  • Identify any aspects of the plan that were problematic

Act
At this stage, you need to act if the plan was not implemented effectively [i.e. Planned goals were not achieved] or actions taken to address identified risks were not effective.
Also, lessons learnt should be documented and applied to the next project.

Application in ISO 9001:2015
The PDCA cycle can be applied to all aspects of the QMS.

Training Example
Plan: What training is required and how will it be provided?
Do: Training is delivered as planned: Coaching/mentoring, on the job training, external training etc
Check: Verify that the training was effective: Evaluation of the on the job performance, demonstration of a skill, examination, prepare a report, etc
Act: If training was not effective, review the plan and take further action

Corrective Action Example
Plan: What is the root cause of the non-conformance and what actions are needed to correct the issue and prevent recurrence?
Do: Corrections and corrective actions are implemented and monitored as planned
Check: Verify that actions taken were effective
Act: If actions are not effective, review the root cause analysis and corrective action plan

PDCA is a simple but powerful tool for improving overall QMS performance and its full benefits will only be realized through adoption of all four phases of the PDCA cycle.

If you would like to learn more about ISO 9001:2015, including the application of PDCA, Comply Guru offer Online ISO 9001:2015 Requirements Training that can be completed anytime, anywhere.

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