Six Sigma Green Belt–Management Tool #6: Process Decision Program Charts (PDPC)

In a way, a process decision program chart is similar to failure mode effects analysis in that it tries to map out the ways things can wrong, but not with respect to the design, but with respect to the process itself. It is a way of mapping out countermeasures to those things that can go wrong, and so could be considered a tool of risk management.  Risk management is especially important when projects are complex and the schedule constraint is tight (i.e., no delays permissible).

Here’s the procedure.   Please note that this tool requires the output of Management Tool #2: Tree Diagrams which was covered in a previous post.

Step Description
1. Create Tree Diagram of Plan Take the high-level objective (first level), list the main activities required to reach that objective (second level), and then under each activity list the tasks required to accomplish those activities (third level).
2. Brainstorm Risks Brainstorm and figure out what could go wrong for each of the third-level tasks that could prevent them from being accomplished.
3. Rank Risks Rank the risks created in step 2 according to probability and impact. Eliminate those risks if the probability is low and the impact is negligible, or both. Therefore you are left with only those risks which medium to high probability and medium to high impact on the project.
4. List Risks List all remaining risks after step 3 under the tasks they are associated with, creating a fourth level on the tree diagram created in step 1.
5. Brainstorm Countermeasures Brainstorm and figure out for each risk what could be done to either a) prevent it from happening or b) remedy the situation if it does occur.
5. List Countermeasures List all countermeasures underneath the risks they are associated with, creating a fifth level on the tree diagram modified in step 4.
6. Rank


Rank the countermeasures created in step 5 according to their time, cost, and ease of implementation. After deciding the criteria, decide which countermeasures are practical and mark those with an O, and mark those that are impractical with an X.

Here’s an example taken from ASQ’s Learn About Quality feature regarding this tool. This is taken as an example of a medical group that is trying to improve the patient care for those patients that have chronic illnesses like diabetes.

You can see the first level objective, the second level activities, and the third level tasks.

On the fourth level, you see the example of two tasks that have listed the risks associated with them that might prevent those tasks being carried out. The fifth level has countermeasures listed to prevent those risks from occurring. The practical countermeasures are marked with an O and the impractical ones are marked with an X.


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