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Quality Assurance

Continuous Quality Improvement and the Deming Cycle

The IACBE's process of quality assurance and advancement emphasizes continuous improvement based on the Deming Cycle of TQM.

> Continuous Quality Improvement and the Deming Cycle

The Deming PDCA Cycle of Continuous Quality Improvement

CQIThe PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act or Plan-Do-Check-Adjust) Cycle, also known as the Deming Cycle, was made popular and promoted by W. Edwards Deming, who is considered to be the father of modern quality management. Later in his career, Deming modified PDCA to "Plan-Do-Study-Act" (PDSA) because he felt that "check" emphasized inspection over analysis. The PDCA or Deming Cycle is an iterative four-step management method for the continuous improvement of processes, products, and services, i.e., for continuous quality improvement. The basic principle of PDCA is iteration – executing the cycle again will lead to improvement. In other words, repeating the PDCA cycle will bring an organization closer to achieving its goals and objectives. The PDCA method emphasizes that continuous quality improvement must start with careful planning, must result in effective action, and must move on again to careful planning in a continuous cycle.

Deming Cycle

Steps in the Deming Cycle

The steps in each successive iteration of the PDCA Cycle are:

Establish objectives and processes necessary to deliver results in accordance with targets or goals.
Execute the plan and implement the processes. Collect data for analysis in the following steps.
Analyze the actual results (measured and collected in the previous step) and compare against the expected results (the targets or goals from the "Plan" step). Determine any differences. Look for deviations from the plan.
Identify corrective actions in cases where differences exist between actual and planned results.
Determine areas in which to apply changes and improvements.

The IACBE's Assessment Process and the Deming Cycle

CQIThe IACBE's accreditation criteria – our "Accreditation Principles" – require an academic business unit to develop and implement a comprehensive quality assessment and advancement system involving an ongoing cyclical process based on the Deming Cycle. This process includes planning, execution, evaluation, and feedback phases for continuous improvement. This continual assessment cycle requires the academic business unit to "close the loop" in outcomes assessment, to use the results to identify changes and improvements that are needed in its business programs, processes, and activities, and to develop action plans for making those changes and improvements.

The steps in the IACBE's Deming-based assessment cycle are as follows:

Articulate goals and intended outcomes for students and for the academic business unit (intended student learning outcomes for each business program and intended operational outcomes) the "Plan" phase of the Deming Cycle.
Use assessment tools to gather data and information pertaining to the goals and intended outcomes the "Do" phase of the Deming Cycle.
Analyze and evaluate the assessment results to determine the extent to which students and the academic business unit are achieving the desired goals and outcomes using evaluation rubrics and performance targets/criteria/objectives the "Check" phase of the Deming Cycle.
Identify changes and improvements that are needed (in curricula, resources, processes, etc.); Prepare and execute strategies and action plans to implement the identified changes and improvements the “Act
or Adjust” phase of the Deming Cycle.

The academic business unit then evaluates the results of executed strategies and action plans to determine whether they achieved the desired outcomes, i.e., the assessment process is repeated, and the plan is updated as necessary. This phase of the assessment process represents “closing the loop” in outcomes assessment.

For more information on continuous quality improvement, see Outcomes Assessment and Continuous Improvement.

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