Effective quality management using the Deming wheel!

The Deming Wheel, also known by its acronym PDCA (Plan Do Check Act), is a continuous improvement method that has been tried and tested for decades. Its aim is to constantly monitor and optimise processes within organisations. By providing a structured framework of actions, the Deming wheel offers a framework for better structuring and anchoring a continuous improvement approach to processes, products and services within organisations.

What is the Deming wheel?


The Deming wheel, also known as the PDCA cycle (Plan, Do, Check, Act), is a management method developed in the 1950s by William Edwards Deming, an American university professor. In the 1950s, Deming worked with Japanese companies and contributed to the country’s reputation for high-quality, innovative products. He is now credited with influencing the economic development of Japan and the global economy in general.

It offers a framework for better structuring and anchoring a continuous improvement approach to processes, products and services within organisations.

In practice, this method is based on a cyclical and iterative 4-step approach. Each cycle identifies the areas for improvement, implements them and assesses the results, with a view to continuous optimisation.


Applying the Deming Wheel in a company presents a number of challenges and benefits:

  • Optimisation of quality: the constant search for improvements results in enhanced quality of products, services and processes.
  • Increased flexibility: regular questioning of working methods stimulates innovation and organisational agility.
  • Operational efficiency: malfunctions are identified and corrected quickly, avoiding recurring problems.
  • Team involvement: the approach is based on the contribution of all employees, a source of motivation.
  • Fact-based decision-making: adjustments are based on the analysis of objective data rather than on intuition.
  • Enhanced competitiveness: by constantly optimising its operations, the company increases its ability to adapt to changes in the market.

In short, the Deming Wheel provides a methodical framework for continuously improving an organisation’s performance. It is a powerful managerial tool for improving agility and competitiveness over the long term.

What are the stages of the Deming wheel?


This first stage aims to define the objectives to be achieved in order to improve quality and performance. Based on an analysis of the existing situation, quantifiable indicators are established. An action plan is then drawn up detailing the tasks, resources and deadlines for achieving the objectives. This rigorous planning is essential if the following stages are to be successfully completed.


During this implementation phase, the action plan is rolled out on a small scale by the operational teams. Employees are trained if necessary. This localised experimentation enables the validity of the plan to be tested before it is rolled out on a large scale. Any adjustments are incorporated as they are made to optimise the plan.


This involves assessing the results obtained by comparing the indicators measured with the objectives initially set. This factual analysis identifies any discrepancies and their causes. The underlying causes of problems are investigated using quality tools (diagrams, 5M, 5 Whys, etc). This essential stage provides an objective view of the improvements made or not made.


Based on the lessons learned in the previous stage, corrective action is taken to resolve the difficulties and achieve the objectives. The action plan is adjusted accordingly for the next iteration. The validated changes are then rolled out on a large scale. A new PDCA cycle can then begin again on an optimised basis.

The virtuous sequence of these 4 steps is the essence of good continuous improvement practice: plan, test, evaluate, adjust and repeat. The Deming wheel provides a proven framework for progress.

The importance of accumulated experience

The Deming Wheel emphasises cumulative experience through its successive optimisation cycles. Each iteration enriches the company’s knowledge and know-how.

This capitalisation on past learning has several essential benefits:

  • It avoids repeating certain mistakes and enables successful initiatives to be reproduced. The experience gained guides future decisions.
  • Employees gain in skills and autonomy over the course of cycles, accelerating progress.
  • The culture of continuous improvement is strengthened over time, as good practice spreads naturally.
  • Team motivation remains high thanks to the successes accumulated over time.
  • The productivity and quality gains achieved are cumulative from one cycle to the next.

In this way, by constantly building on past experience, the Deming wheel establishes a permanent improvement dynamic. Progress is accelerated as skills are acquired.

This approach differs from ad hoc optimisation initiatives, which are often doomed to fall back on past mistakes. Conversely, the Deming wheel sets the company on an upward trajectory based on accumulated experience.

In conclusion, the Deming wheel offers a proven framework for action to engage organisations in a dynamic of continuous improvement. By combining reflection and pragmatic action, it stimulates sustainable progress, whether in terms of quality, productivity or innovation.

The prerequisite for success is the total involvement of management, who are the guarantors of the motivation of the troops. Without strong support and rigorous monitoring by management, PDCA approaches remain a dead letter.

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