The Deming Cycle

In the 1950s, W. Edwards Deming proposed that business processes should be analyzed and measured to identify sources of variations that cause products to deviate from customer requirements. He recommended that business processes be placed in a continuous feedback loop so that managers and supporting staff can identify and change the parts of the process that need improvements. As a theorist, Deming created a simplified model to illustrate this continuous process, commonly known as the PDCA cycle for Plan, Do, Check, Act:

* Plan: Design or revise business process components to improve results
* Do: Implement the plan and measure its performance
* Check: Assess the measurements and report the results to decision makers
* Act: Decide on changes needed to improve the process.

Too often organizations are looking for a big-bang approach to improvements. It is important to understand that a succession or series of small, planned increments of improvements will not stress the infrastructure as much and will eventually amount to a large amount of improvement over time.

So in relation to Continual Service Improvement, the PDCA model can be applied with the following steps.

1. Plan – scope, establishing goals, objectives and requirements, interfaces, process activities, framework of roles and responsibilities, appropriate tools, methods and techniques for measuring, assessing, analyzing and reporting.

2. Do (implement) – funding and budgets, documenting and allocation roles and responsibilities, documentation and maintaining CSI policies, plans and procedures, communication and training, ensuring monitoring, analysis and trend evaluating and reporting tools is in place, integration with the other lifecycle phases.

3. Check (monitor, measure, review) – reporting against plans, documentation review, conducting process assessments and audits. The key here is identifying and recommending CSI process improvement opportunities.

4. Act – implementing actual CSI enhancements (e.g. updating CSI policies, procedures, roles and responsibilities).