Useful Resources for Running Your Project

Model for Improvement

The ‘Model for Improvement’ is the tool we are using to support your quality improvement projects.  It is essentially a method for structuring and carrying out an improvement project. If you are looking to carry out a QI project, we will help guide you to develop your idea and test it out using this simple framework.

The model consists of two parts. The first three questions help us define what we want to achieve, what ideas we think might make a difference, and what we’ll measure to help us understand if change is an improvement.  You will have already worked through this by completing your charter.



The second part is the PDSA (Plan Do Study Act) cycle – outlining the steps for the actual testing of the change ideas. The cyclical nature allows the change to be refined and improved through repeated cycles of testing and learning. This provides a vehicle for continuous improvement.


Do-Let’s try it!

  • Carry out your plan
  • Document any problems
  • Begin data analysis

Plan-What will happen if we try something different?

  • What is our objective in this cycle?
  • What questions do we want to ask and what are our predictions?
  • Who will carry this out? (Who? When? How? Where?)

Act-What’s Next?

  • Ready to implement?
  • Try something else?
  • Next cycle?

Study-Did it work?

  • Complete data analysis
  • Compare results to your predictions
  • Summarise your results

PDSA cycles allow you to take change ideas you have created, try them in practice, learn what is or isn’t working with them and then adjust your approach.  It is rare to achieve absolute success through your first PDSA cycle.  Most commonly you will need to adjust your change idea through a number of PDSA cycles before it starts to work reliably in actual practice.  The important point to note is that failure is not the end and can be a useful thing!  By meeting on a regular basis as a team and going through PDSA cycles you will be doing something called rapid cycle testing.  This will allow you to see meaningful change within months that would otherwise take years.

Measuring your data

If you have completed a project charter, then you will already have identified a number of measures that you will want to use to show whether your project is starting to create improvement.  But how do you use this data you are collecting to show whether you are or aren’t improving? 

In improvement methodology we collect small amounts of data but regularly and use things called run charts or control charts to look at how this varies over time. 

Run or control charts are particularly focused on looking at one thing.  Variation.  It is important to understand that everything varies over time.  A run chart acts a bit like a camcorder, showing you every up and down.  Snapshot audits (that you may well have done before) are a bit more like a camera, taking a picture of what things look like at just one point in time.

To be able to show that things have improved we not only need to be able to show the things have changed, but also that this is not a one off.  In other words, the change has been sustained.    Run or control charts allow us to see if this has happened.  There are many other tools you can use in your Quality Improvement work - you can see a brief description of some useful tools on the measurement section of the website.