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Deming’s PDCA Cycle


For quality improvement W.Edwards Deming proposed the Deming cycle or circle. PDCA cycle is critical at two points in Continual Service Improvement (CSI):

Implementation of CSI

For the application of CSI to services and service management processes. At implementation all four stages of the PDDCA cycle are used. With ongoing improvement, CSI draws check and act stages to monitor, measure, review and implement initiatives.

After these four stages a phase of consolidation prevents the circle from rolling back down the hill as shown in the figure. Our goal in using the Deming cycle or PDCA cycle is steady, ongoing improvement. It is a fundamental tenet of Continual Service Improvement (CSI).

PDCA should be repeated multiple times to implement Continual Service Improvement (CSI). Handling of cultural change is required to implement CSI for improvement. It should be noted that the PDCA cycle is a fundamental part of many quality standards including ISO/IEC 20000.

Continuous Service Improvement(CSI approach)

Service improvement must focus on increasing the efficiency, maximizing the effectiveness and optimizing the cost of services as well as the underlying IT service management (ITSM) processes.

The only way to do this is to ensure that improvement opportunities are identified throughout the entire service lifecycle.

The 6 step CSI approach to improve the performance of our services and improve our process.

  1. What is the Vision?

We should understand what is the vision of the organization? Vision should be aligned to IT and business strategies of the organization.

  1. Where are we now?

Analyze the current situation in terms of the business, organization, people, process and technology. This will give us the baseline assessment and we will get to know, Where are we now?

  1. Where do we want to be?

We should understand the business need and requirement as that will help us in moving towards the direction where do we want to be.

  1. How do we get there?

What are the improvement steps we need to take to get there. Improvement can be short, medium and long term. All these initiatives need to be logged in CSI register.

  1. Did we get there?

We should monitor, report and review of service level achieved and the actual performance against targets identified in the business requirement.

  1. How do we keep the momentum going?

We should keep the momentum going by again following all the above 5 steps and following the CSI approach.

There is a common belief that CSI activities cannot improve a service that doesn’t yet exist and that the service has to be operational to identify improvement opportunities.

However, CSI can add value in designing a new service by bringing the knowledge and experience from improving existing services. CSI can proactively prevent the potential flows in the new service.

CSI activities can be executed within service strategy, service design, service transition and service operation.

It is obvious that all the activities of the improvement process assist CSI in some way. It is relatively simple to identify what takes place but more difficult to understand exactly how this will happen.

The improvement process spans not only the management organization but the entire service lifecycle.

This is a cornerstone of CSI, the main steps of which are as follows:

  •   Identify the strategy for improvement: Identify the overall vision, business need, strategy and the tactical and operational goals.

  • Define what you will measure: Service strategy and service design needs to identify this information early in the lifecycle phase.

CSI can then start its cycle again at “Where are we now ?” and “Where do we want to be ?”. This identifies the ideal situation for both IT and business.CSI can identify opportunities for improvement by doing gap analysis as well as answering the question “How do we get that?”

  1. Gather the data: To analyze “Did we get there?” data needs to be gather generally done at service operation phase. At this point data is raw and nothing can be concluded from this.

  1. Process the data: The simple goal of this step is to process data from multiple disparate sources to give it context that can be compared. Once we have rationalized the data we can begin analysis.

  1. Analyse the information and data: As we bring the data more and more into context, it evolves from raw data into information with which we can start to answer questions about who, what, when, where and how as well as trends and the impact on the business.

It is the analyzing step that is most often overlooked or forgotten in the rush to present data to management.

  1. Present and use the information: Here the answer to ‘Did we get there?’ is formatted and communicated in whatever way necessary to present to the various stakeholders.

Knowledge is presented to the business in a form and manner that reflects their needs and assists them in determining the next steps.

  1. Implement improvement: The knowledge gained is used to optimize, improve and correct services and processes.

Issues have been identified and now solutions are implemented — wisdom is applied to the knowledge.

The improvements that need to be taken to improve the service or process are communicated and explained to the organization.

Following this step the organization establishes a new baseline and the cycle begins a new. While these seven steps appear to form a circular set of activities, in fact, they constitute a knowledge spiral.

In practice, knowledge gathered and wisdom derived from the knowledge at one level of the organization becomes a data input to the next.

People often believe data, information, knowledge and wisdom to be synonymous or at least broadly similar meaning. This view is incorrect.

There are four reasons to measure and monitor:

  • To validate – Monitoring and measuring needs to be done to validate previous decisions made.

  • To direct – Monitoring and measuring is essential to set the direction for activities in order to meet and set new targets.

  • To justify – Monitoring and measurement is required to justify, factual evidence or proof, that a course of action is required.

  • To intervene – Monitoring and measuring is essential to identify a point of intervention including subsequent changes and corrective actions.

The four basic reasons to monitor and measure lead to three key questions:

  1. ‘Why are we monitoring and measuring?

  2. ‘When do we stop?’

  3. ‘Is anyone using the data?’

To answer these questions, it is important to identify which of the above reasons is driving the measurement effort. Too often, we continue to measure long after the need has passed. Every time you produce a report you should ask:

‘Do we still need this?’