Start and Run a Classic PDSA (Plan-Do-Study-Act)

A PDSA cycle is the basic method of inquiry in improvement research. It’s a pragmatic scientific method for iterative testing of changes in complex systems. Each cycle (Plan-Do-Study-Act) is a mini-experiment in which observed outcomes are compared to predictions. Discrepancies between predictions and observed outcomes become a source of learning. 

To run a classic PDSA, select the change idea from the Driver List or Driver Diagram on which you would like to run a PDSA. On the change idea page, select Classic PDSA. The system will guide you through the various elements for running your PDSA.



In the classic PDSA form, modify the change idea’s Goal or add a new goal for your test.


In the Plan section, answer or add Learning Questions, Predictions, Data to collect, Details, and Upload files. Select + Add beneath the three-dot icon at the end of a Plan row to add additional learning questions.


In the Do section, describe what happened during your test and Upload files.


In the Study section, comment on your results, Upload files, and answer the question: What did you learn?


In the Act section, select an action: Adopt, Adapt, or Abandon.


Selecting Adapt prompts you to explain how you will iterate on the change idea.


Selecting Abandon prompts you to explain why you will abandon testing on the change idea.


Select Complete and Publish


If you paused at the Plan, Do, or Study sections, select Save as in-progress. Your classic PDSA will be visible on the Homepage, where you can select it to continue your work.


On the PDSA summary page, add co-authors to your PDSA by selecting + Add Co-authors


Edit your PDSA by selecting Edit, select PDF to download your PDSA as a PDF, or delete your PDSA by selecting Delete.


To replicate your PDSA plan for a new test, or to replicate another tester’s plan, access a list of PDSAs on the appropriate change idea page, or via the Find PDSAs page. Choose a completed Classic PDSA to copy, and select Clone and Create


A new PDSA with the prior PDSA’s plan information will be created for your test.

Do not upload any Personally Identifiable Information (PII).

Note: Depending on your NIC’s NILS instance, phase, and your network role, some items may appear differently in the menu bar.

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