What is a Process Decision Program Chart?

Process Decision Program Charts are used for two purposes: to document the steps required to complete a process, and also as a tool for impact analysis. PDPC achieves this by systematically exploring a process to see what can go wrong. This tool is useful in the DMAIC Improve phase before you implement your plan. However, I find it very helpful in the Analyze Phase after process mapping.

When should you create Process Decision Program Charts?

Six Sigma tools do not have to be used in every project. It takes time and energy to implement all of these tools. PDPC works best when:

  • You are about to implement a new procedure.
  • You are delivering a complex and large project.
  • Costs of failure are high.

How to create a Process-Decision Program Chart

It is easy to use and create PDPCs. They allow you to think about risks in a systematic way during the planning and review stages of a process or project, ensuring that nothing is missed.

Create a PDPC by following these four steps:

1. Break your tasks down and put them in order

You can use a PDPC by first breaking down your process into individual tasks. This could be the steps in a manufacturing process or even a regular business workflow.

On a landscape-format letter-sized sheet of paper, write down each step or task in a separate, separated box. Space them out along the left side. In Figure 2, you can see all the tasks that are involved in our example of order fulfillment.

2. Identifying Potential Risks

Then, you can extend the chart and identify the risks associated with the tasks that you have mapped out. Add the risks to the rounded boxes that are at the end of each branch. (See Figure 3 below).


For more information on identifying potential risks, read our article on Analysis of Risk.

3. Consider Countermeasures and Contingencies

If the solution to each risk is not immediately apparent, you will likely need to brainstorm effective countermeasures. Draw branches from each risk and then add countermeasures as wavy boxes (“clouds”) See Figure 4 for a PDPC that is complete for our example.

The PDPC provides Max and Kharina with a set of clear actions they should take to investigate the problem and resolve it. It also helps them to think about ways to monitor this regularly so that their customers are happy.

4. Review the Process

You should be able to find solutions for any problems or threats that you have identified. It’s vital to regularly review your PDPC and make any necessary changes.