Plan Do Study Act (PDSA)

The Plan do study act is an iterative, four-stage problem solving model used for improving a process or carrying out change. The PDSA cycle is a systematic series of steps for gaining valuable learning and knowledge for the continuous improvement of a product or process. It is also known as Deming cycle, as Dr. Edward W Deming popularized the concept. Mr. Walter A. Shewart introduced him to this concept.

PDSA is an analytical process that considers the process as is, analyzes it further, revises it as appropriate and then repeats the cycle for continuous improvement. The PDSA cycle includes internal and external customers into considers, as they can provide feedback about is the change plan works or not. The customer defines quality and hence it is appropriate to involve them in the process, to increase acceptance of the end product.

Stages in PDSA Cycle

Plan: Plan a change. Under this stage, you define the objective and subsequently intend to answer all the other questions. Planning stage implies to,

  • Identify the problem
  • Analyze the problem
  • Clarify goals and objectives
  • Define success
  • Identify key team players
  • Plan strategies putting a plan into action

Do: In this stage components of the plan are implemented, such as developing or product or service. And Do stage implies,

  • To start implementation of the action plan
  • To collect of the data
  • To design appropriate tools to implement changes
  • To perform appropriate activities

Study: Outcomes are monitored to test the validity of the plan against the goal and objectives. Study stage implies to,

  • Analyze the data collected
  • Ensure plan is working
  • Identify and remove bottlenecks

Act: The Act step ends the cycle by integrating the learning generated by the entire process. Act stage implies to,

  • Communicate the results and determine if plan worked
  • Adjust the goals to meet the objectives, change methods or even reformulate a theory altogether

Benefits of PDSA Cycle

  • PDSA works well when you are establishing new processes.
  • A PDSA is repetitive approach, and it helps you apply learning on a small scale first and gradually scaling up the volumes.
  • PDSA works well on new product development.
  • PDSA can quickly help identify non-value added resources and find ways to reduce while saving cost to the company
  • PDSA is a continuous improvement and development tool
  • PDSA lends itself well to high-volume process, where change can make a significant difference to effectiveness and quality of output
  • Problem-solving process: Works well in cases where there are plenty of data to analyze and evaluate

What is the difference between PDSA and PDCA?

A PDCA stands for Plan Do Check Act Cycle also called as Shewhart cycle. Mr. Walter A. Shewart first introduced PDCA in 1939 in one of his books and there after it was Dr. Deming who emphasized it has to be changed to PDSA in 1950’s. Dr. Deming encouraged a systematic approach of not just checking, but of problem solving to improve the process of products and services and promoted the now widely recognized four step process PDSA, for continual improvement.

Major changes that one can identify are in the 3rd stage of the process, such as

  • Check stage implies a simple Yes-No response where as Study stage implies a much deeper analysis of what went wrong.
  • Study also implies that you could gather a lot from something that has not worked as expected, whereas check doesn’t suggest that as much.
  • PDCA was to be used for more straightforward improvement situations, and PDSA was to be applied in more complex scenarios when metrics need more extensive reflections

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