Plan, do, check and act

The quality assurance circle of plan, do, check and act allows for multiple chances to correct or improve potential errors.

The goal of quality assurance is to help you use tools and methods to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your work, provide you more value (resources, time and safety), and allow you to accomplish more with confidence.

One quality assurance evaluation of management and non-management work used at Fermilab called “Plan Do Check Act” uses a continuous loop of activities to accomplish work and to improve jobs. The objective is to get the job done right and on time the first time and maybe better the next time.

PDCA is integral to the scientific method and incorporated within production operations in travelers, which is a checklist that records the sequence of activities needed for the assembly and testing of a magnet. For instance, the travelers checklist contains instructions with specifications (plan) indicating how an object is made (do), tested and the results recorded (check), and instructions for passing or failing results, which may result in corrective actions (act). This four-step process, whether it’s used in science, engineering, production or the office, allows for an evaluation of what might be improved for each activity.

So how can you use this method?

  • Plan – Identify the objectives, processes and tests you will use to obtain measurable data for evaluating the job.
  • Do – Work the plan by making the object or performing the service and collecting the data.
  • Check – Compare the data to what you expected as a result.
  • Act – If your activity produces an outcome that is better or worse than the expected result, identify what caused this and request a corrective action to the plan.

The next time you work your plan, determine if you also collect, analyze and act on the resulting data. If you are not sure how PDCA could be incorporated into your job or need clarification, contact your QA or Office of Quality and Best Practices representative.

Edited by Thomas King