What is the Plan, Do, Check, Act Cycle?

What is it?

The Plan, Do, Check, Act Cycle also well known as ‘PDCA’ is a management method. It involves 4 steps:

  1. Plan what you are doing
  2. Do what you said you would do
  3. Check that you did it right
  4. Act on anything that went wrong to prevent the same errors in the future

The PDCA cycle is flexible in that it can be applied to a project as a whole or to each of the tasks within it.


In the plan stage, you consider where you are now and where you want to be in the future. This might be as basic as deciding what you want to achieve and who would be responsible for helping you achieve it. Use your customer’s requirements to assist you in determining your organisation’s objectives.

Writing this down as a policy where applicable can help communicate to your team how crucial objectives, even if how you achieve this goal changes in the future.

This stage also involves recognising any hazards that may arise due to plans being carried out. Consider both big and small risks and determine whether you can cope with the repercussions of these risks, or if new plans are needed to mitigate them.


The Do stage is where plans are actually implemented. Ensure that sure your team has the correct training and equipment to perform their tasks correctly.


The Check stage involves measuring performance and checking that your plans have been implemented as written and will achieve your goals. Document everything so that you have evidence for the next stage.


The Act stage is where you review your performance and learn from it. Use the evidence gathered during the Check stage to help you make decisions about how successful the project has been so that you can take these learnings through to the next iteration of the PDCA cycle.

What is the Plan Do Check Act Cycle - Photo

Continual Improvement and the PDCA Cycle

The PDCA cycle promotes continual improvement as each step within the cycle supports the one following it. When applied to an issue, the PDCA cycle tries to assist you with a solution by repeating the cycle until that solution is achieved. When applied to a process, or something without a definite solution, for example, the improvement of a business overall, the cycle would repeat indefinitely. This improves the system every time.

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