Deming cycle: what it is, the four phases, which procedures are implemented 2022 – 2023

One of the primary objectives of every company is to grow and improve every day, offering a complete product or service that fully satisfies the customer.

Continuous improvement (or Kaizen ) in the company is not just a theory that is not reflected in practice; it can be concretely implemented, to optimize company production by reducing the waste of resources, through the Deming Cycle, also known in the field of project management as the PDCA cycle ( Plan – Do – Check – Act Cycle ).

What is the Deming Cycle

The Deming cycle or PDCA cycle or, again, the Shewhart cycle is a procedure, divided into four phases, of business management that specifically concerns the improvement of production through the optimization of work processes, the resolution of any critical issues (problem-solving), and the reduction of any type of waste.

Stages of the cycle: Plan Do Check Act

The Deming cycle is divided into 4 distinct phases which are repeated, in a cyclical manner, until the achievement of the improvement in productivity, the ultimate goal of the cycle. The 4 phases are:

  • PLAN or phase of Planning: without careful planning, you cannot proceed with the action. Therefore, the first phase of the Deming cycle involves the execution of a plan: systems monitoring, identification of problems, and drafting of an intervention plan for the resolution of critical issues;
  • DO or phase of Execution: from the plan in the theoretical form to its practical application! In this phase, we move on to the execution of the plan for continuous improvement elaborated during the first phase. At the same time, the data processed during the execution of the plan necessary for the next phase are collected;
  • CHECK or Control phase: after execution, the data collected is checked. In the third phase or phase of the control (check) the staff responsible for the continuous improvement of the production systems is called to accurately analyze the statistical data obtained during the implementation of the improvement plan. Also in this phase, all possible corrections to be made to the plan to integrate it are evaluated;
  • ACT or Action phase: this last phase involves the application of the plan, integrated with any changes, in order to guarantee an ever-increasing quality of the company production process. At the end of the Deming cycle, if the production reaches the prescribed improvements, it does not mean that the cycle cannot be re-applied to the production in order to maintain constant quality and improvement over time.

Edwards Deming and quality continues

The Deming cycle was developed by W. Edwards Deming in the 1950s in Japan, where the concept of continuous quality, linked to industrial production, required an excessive investment of funds and involved a huge waste of resources.

To reverse this trend in consumption, Deming devised a cycle of continuous improvement which, in addition to guaranteeing production quality, also eliminated the concept of waste in the production and fine-tuning of business systems.

To which procedures the Deming cycle applies

The Deming cycle or PDCA cycle can be applied to different corporate procedures, including:

  • To problem-solving actions
  • To project management
  • To the management and growth of human resources
  • To the production of new products
  • To structural checks and technical maintenance

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