How Demings’ Plan-Do-Act-Cycle applies to today’s business environment

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In the 1950s W. Edwards Deming constructed the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle. Deming developed this model on the basis of quality, and his assertion was that when processes are placed in a continuous feedback loop this increases the quality of service and products to customers.

Theoretically, when processes remain in a continuous loop this means that the process is regularly revisited. In industries, things change and when something may work during a given time as technology progresses or the business environment evolves, those processes may no longer be relevant, effective or efficient.

While this model has been around more than 50 years, this quality model still applies to today's business environments. The four segments in the cycle: "plan", "do", "check" and act" all revolve around consistent and improved quality and, in modern times, this is important due to competition and compliance factors in business.

If you were to break each segment of the cycle down you can easily identify why the PDCA model is still relevant. Here are some reasons why each checkpoint of the cycle is valuable in modern businesses:


This section relates to designing or revising business processes. In today's world, this would include IT which is constantly and rapidly growing and evolving. As tech progresses and grows, it makes good business sense for an organization to continuously examine.


The do portion of PDCA suggests the implementation of the plan and measuring results; this too is valid in today's business environments because if benchmarks are going to be met, then performances have to be measured to determine whether or not the venture is a success or failure.


The check portion of PDCA focuses on following up on the "do" and then assesses measurements and reports to decision makers. This action is just as valid today as it was in the 1950s. Successful businesses understand the need to continuously check up on processes and note whether or not they are running or acting as they should. If a deficiency or inaccuracy is found, then the situation can be quickly rectified in the Act section of the PDCA cycle. If everything is working fine, then this finding can be reported as well.


The act segment of the cycle decides on changes that need to be made to improve business processes and in today's environments, there are many rapid changes in law and IT. As a result, businesses need to act, sometimes quickly, especially when new laws such as HIPAA, Sarbanes-Oxley or Gramm-Leach-Bliley Acts are passed.

Despite its age, Deming's PDCA cycle is a pretty relevant and useful model, even today.


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