What is the four-step quality management cycle?

This cycle or as others naming it a method, which is not a mistake, is one of the most vital quality improvement tools.

If you are wondering should you use it or not, keep in mind the ISO 9001 Standard highly encourages its use, so as we. Because if you apply it, it’s expected from you to apply it across the range of processes involved in any quality system. And application takes a range from planning for quality and review of performance, through to taking effective action to respond to, and resolve, weaknesses in the system (CAPA).

Prevent a fail with PDSA

How it goes — step by step

2. Do — It’s time to carry out the plan. All the activities of creating and providing products or services to the customers you need to execute according to your plan need to be done in this stage. Don’t forget the controls that need to be identified for the QMS operations. Any non-conforming products or services need to be addressed.

3. Study — It used to be “check”, but now it is recommended to “study” what you have done so far. Standard has several requirements to check the processes of the QMS to ensure they are functioning properly, as you have planned them. You need to do some monitoring, measuring, analyzing, and evaluation of the products or services so you can see if they met your expected requirements. You are expected to check and evaluate — study if the processes used are adequate and effective, and customer satisfaction is being met.

4. Act — This stage expects you to act, which involves the actions needed to address any issues found in the “Study” stage. Here you have to see what you got with this implementation, whether it worked. In case it did not work, you have to ask yourself what you can do differently in your next cycle to address that. If it did work, are you ready to spread it across your entire practice? Keep in mind that this action should eliminate the causes of actual or potential nonconformities as the first step in acting to improve the system.

You may be interested in:
Beginners guide through ISO 9001 —
Lesson 1
Beginners guide through ISO 9001 —
Lesson 2


Use PDSA to focus your QMS toward improvement

These four steps can be repeated over and over as part of a never-ending cycle of continual learning and improvement.

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