PDCA Cycle | Keyn Certification
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Cycle Defined

Continuous improvement framework as the
backbone of majority of ISO management systems.
Plan-Do-Check-Act Cycle
ISO 9001 Quality Management Systems' continuous effort is not a single event but rather a continuous process.

The cycle, described as the PDCA cycle or Plan-Do-Check-Act, is a cyclical approach to problem solving, where every cycle will result in improvement over the previous cycle.

The cycles act as the model for quality improvement and continual process assessment to achieve organisational excellence.


Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle is the concept of planning action, implementing the planned, checking whether the goals are met, and finally making improvements to the overall results.

The cycle is common management tool practised and implemented in ISO 9001. In fact, this cycle aligns with the purpose of implementing ISO 9001. It is not only to deliver quality products and services or business operations optimization but to ultimately build a sustainable continuously improving business.

It's a useful practice for ensuring that all aspects of the process are effectively addressed, and as a process of continuously, to always find ways on improving your processes.



How PDCA works

PDCA Cycle is useful for making improvements, offering a step-by-step approach to solving problems to be deployed in the organization's processes and across all business interactions.

The cycle applies to all aspects of management to ensure the right decisions are made, information is managed effectively, and goal-setting is managed throughout the company.

It provides frameworks to initiate changes by planning for improvement, actions are based on what is planned, making decisions about which changes are necessary, and taking actions to improve the highlighted areas that need improvement.

PDCA Cycle has been well integrated into ISO 9001 Quality Management System.

Similarly, the cycle starts with collection information, understanding the context of the organization. This is to better formulate a plan after assessing the situation and expectations of the interested parties involved with your organization.

The model emphasizes a continuous cycle, from identifying a problem to solving the problem and back at it again to identifying and solving a new problem, to achieve continuous improvement.


Planning phase is where you start establishing objectives derived from interested parties' requirements and expectations and set the actions to achieve them. Planning is done throughout all the stages of your organization's processes.

Leadership plays a defining role in identifying the objectives, identifying opportunities and addressing risks, and to identify and implement the necessary support resources. This is also followed by the involvement of the leadership (top management) in and breaking down these objectives into daily tasks. With that, management's commitment is highly required to implement the decisions across the organization to carry out the plan effectively.

Do phase is a very straightforward phase, which is carrying out the planned phase.

In this stage, it also involves the necessary control that is required throughout the activity of creating and providing the products and services, which shall align with the customers' needs and expectations.

Check phase is where you perform the analysis to identify the differences between the planning and the results from the do phase, and to ensure the process is functioning properly as expected. The analysis is done to determine the cause of the differences from the expected and the actual outcome.

The need to monitor, measure and evaluate the end results to effectively identify whether it meet your desired results, or otherwise,

The need to assess the effectiveness of the overall process. This to address the issues and prepare to make plans and changes from the result.

Act phase is the actions that are required to address any issues based on finding from the check phase and need to perform a necessary step to improve or correct the process.

In this stage, the implementation of corrective measure is required to eliminate the actual or potential non-conforming activities.

End Note

Not all is finished when you complete the Act Stage. Although you had proposed a solution, the solution may not fully address the issue, or sometimes another issue arises when you take the action.

This is where the essence of PDCA Cycle shines, you will then conduct the same repetitive steps, from the Planning to Act Stage to identify new root causes of the issue.

These step-by-step initiatives are the core concept of implementing a continual improvement cycle as incorporated into ISO 9001.

This is a control cycle that can be applied to any processes and operations, large or small. It is not meant to be used as a one-time activity, but rather as a continual loop of improvement.

Achieving a quality management system according to the ISO standard will greatly ensure the priority of customer focus, increases the profitability while practising a sustainable improvement framework for business continuity.