What Is Plan Do Check Act (PDCA)
Plan Do Check Act (PDCA) is a very simple, but remarkable process for driving improvement in the design of your aviation SMS.
Here are the main points of PDCA:
- It is a cycle;
- This cycle is designed to be repeatable; and
- It is designed to improve processes of your SMS.
The various parts of PDCA are:
- Plan: define all aspects of the problem/improvement opportunity and identify how to fix it;
- Do: implement the changes that will improve your SMS;
- Check: review the changes to see that they fulfill intention; and
- Act: make the changes “official” in the organization.
PDCA is most commonly used in the process of creating corrective-preventative actions.
First Phase of PDCA Plan
Plan is the first phase of PDCA, and involves:
- Defining all aspects of the problems;
- Identifying what you can correct the problem; and
- Creating a roadmap (i.e., a corrective action) for fixing it.
Various tools can aid in the planning phase:
The goal is to identify the heart of the problem. Once this has been identified and analyzed, you can formulate a plan to fix the problem. This means simply outlining:
- What the corrective-preventative-action is;
- The steps to fulfill it; and
- Who will be fulfilling it.
The manager creating and assigning the CPA is responsible for this phase of PDCA.
Second Phase of PDCA Do
Do is the second phase. Do simply means implementing the plan by:
- Identifying goal of CPA; and
- Following indicated steps to fulfill plan.
The person assigned the CPA is in charge of this phase of PDCA.
In complex environments or complex PDCA changes, it is a good idea to perform a safety case on the change. This acts as a “pilot test” to ensure that the CPA will likely fulfill intended goals in actual implementation.
Third Phase of PDCA Check
Check is the third phase of PDCA. Check is the phase of PDCA where management reviews performance of the actions taken by the assignee to complete the CPA.
There are two outcomes in this phase:
- Performance satisfies intent; or
- Performance does not satisfy intent.
A good practice here is to document a performance rating of corrective actions, such as by assigning a rating of 1-5, with everything 3 and above is satisfactory. This will help reviewing specific PDCA plans in the future.
Fourth Phase of PDCA Act
Act is the final phase of PDCA. Act involves making your implemented change “official” in your organization. This happens by:
- Officially documenting the change as a part of your SMS design (i.e., Safety Risk Management);
- Communicating your change throughout your organization; and
- Incorporating your change into system review processes.
A good example of this phase is monitoring the effectiveness of risk controls. Safety managers who are managing the SMS are responsible for this phase of PDCA.
For resource that can greatly aid your ability to practice PDCA, see this resource:
Published May 2018. Last updated April 2019.