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Process Decision Program Chart (PDPC)

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Process Decision Program Chart (PDPC) is a risk identification and mitigation tool. It looks like a tree diagram and it systematically identifies risks in a project plan. One may either revise the plan to avoid the risks or be ready with a contingency action if the risk occurs.


An application-oriented question on the topic along with responses can be seen below. The best answer was provided by Mohamed Asif on 19th Jan 2021.


Applause for all the respondents - Subodh Tripathi, Mohamed Asif, Santosh Sharma, Saravanan Shanmugam


Also review the answer provided by Mr Venugopal R, Benchmark Six Sigma's in-house expert.


Q 331. While FMEA is used for process risk assessment, a Process Decision Program Chart (PDPC) is used for project plan risk assessment. What is PDPC? Explain its usage along with examples.



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PDPC – Process Decision Program Chart

PDPC spreads the tree diagram to successive levels to identify risks and countermeasures for the low-level tasks. PDPC is like that of FMEA in identifying risks, effects of failure and contingency actions.

It throws light on what might go wrong (Risks/Failures), highlight the Consequence of failure (Effect), and come with Potential countermeasures (Risk Mitigation).


PDPC helps prepare the contingency plans. It systematically identifies what might go wrong in a plan

under development. Countermeasures are developed to prevent or offset those problems.




By using this technique, we can either revise the plan to avoid the problems or be ready with the best

response when a problem occurs.


When PDPC is used:

Before implementing a large or complex plan.

When the plan must be completed on schedule/target.

When the price of failure (Cost of Poor Quality) is high.


Example: Improve Service Delivery 



How it is used:

Build Tree Diagram for the proposed plan (high level View)

3 Levels – Objective, Main Activities

For each of the main activities, brainstorming is done to see what could go wrong

List the problems associated in the next level

For the listed potential problem, brainstorm and come with countermeasures

Highlight feasible actions/countermeasures as O and impractical measures with X (use criteria such as cost, time, ease and effectiveness to arrive at conclusion)



Below PDPC is build to execute Sales Pitch to the Client



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Benchmark Six Sigma Expert View by Venugopal R

FMEA is a very popular tool used for Risk Analysis, whereas PDPC (Process Decision Program Chart) has been released by JUSE (Union of Japanese Scientists and Engineers) as early as 1976. While the Process FMEA is useful to analyze the potential risks (failure modes) associated with a process, the PDPC is a tool that helps to assess the risks associated with a Project.


The Process FMEA begins by listing the process steps and identifying the potential failure modes during each process step. Process FMEA has its inbuilt quantification methods by considering the ratings for Severity, Occurrence and Detection associated with each failure mode and gives a composite Risk Priority Rating (RPN).


PDPC is much simpler tool than Process FMEA, and it not only identifies the potential failures, but also the possible counter measures and ends with selection of the feasible counter measures.


While we manage complex projects in which the impact of even small failures could be very high, it is very important to foresee potential risks and do an advance mitigation planning.


The first step to prepare a PDPC is to develop a tree diagram of the project. The tree diagram begins with the overall objective on the top box. This is the first horizontal level of the PDPC. In the second level, we need to branch out from the overall objective, the major activities that are necessary to accomplish the objective. The third horizontal layer will be the tasks that branch out from each of the activities represented in the second layer.


Having created the above 3-layered tree diagram up to ‘task level’, we need to do a ‘what-if’ analysis and identify what could potentially go wrong with each of the tasks. This has to be done by brain-storming using the experience and knowledge of the people and other experts connected to the project. Some of the questions that may be asked to identify the potential failures are:

  1. If this task were to fail, how could it go wrong?
  2. What is the primary intent of this task? Can it result in doing something else, instead or in addition to its primary intent?
  3. Have we allowed for any margin for error?
  4. Are there any assumptions made?
  5. Do we have experience from similar situations?



The identified risks are included in the tree diagram at the fourth level. The team may review these risks and remove the ones that may be very improbable. The counter measure for each risk is identified as the fifth level in the tree diagram.


The figure shows the structure of the PDPC tree diagram with the five levels.


For each counter measure weight the feasibility considering, cost, time, effectiveness and ease of implementation. Mark the countermeasures that are finally selected as ‘O’ and the ones eliminated as ‘X’

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Process Decision Program Chart (PDPC) is a Management Planning tool for recognizing and writing down the steps required to complete a project. In this way, one can prepare a contingency plan by drawing out every possible solution. This allows you to systematically pinpoint what might go wrong with a plan, so that you make a contingency plan to limit risk. 


It provides a structural and systematic means of finding errors with a plan while it is being created. This tool identifies panned activities and ask WHAT IF questions to uncover potential problem areas. Then, countermeasures are developed against those potential problems. 


When to use: 

  1. When project should be completed within a deadline.
  2. When project is large and complex.
  3. When the price of failure is too high.

How to create a Process Decision Program Chart?

  1. Devise a tree-diagram for the proposed plan starting with objective.
  2. For each task on third level, brainstorm what could go wrong.
  3. Review all potential problems and eliminate any that are unlikely to happen or whose consequence could be insignificant.
  4. For each potential problem, devise countermeasures.
  5. Decide how practical each countermeasure is by using criteria like cost associated with it, amount of time required, feasibility of the action and it's effectiveness.

Questions that might help you identify problems:

  1. What was your previous experience in these situations?
  2. Are your assumptions correct or there is a margin of error?
  3. Are these actions/events/conditions controllable?

Following is an example of using PDPC:






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The PDPC is defined as a Mgmt Planning Tool which systematically identifies what might fail during a plan. Countermeasures are developed to prevent / offset those problems. By using PDPC, We can either revise the plan to avoid the problems or be ready with the best response when a problem will occur.


PDPC Diagram Overview

A useful way of designing is to interrupt down tasks into a hierarchy, employing a tree . PDPC simply extends this chart to a couple of levels to identify risks and countermeasures for the lowest level tasks, as within the diagram below.




The PDPC may be a very simple tool with an unnecessarily impressive sounding name, possibly derived from the japanese name, from where it came together of the 'Second seven tools (also referred to as one among the 'Seven Tools for Management and Planning' or more commonly one among the ‘Seven New QC Tools’).


When should a PDPC process be used?

· Before implementing an idea , especially when the plan is large and sophisticated

· When the plan should be completed on schedule

· When the price of failure is high


Advantages of using a PDPC process are:

Identifying what can fail (failure mode or risks)

Consequences of that failure (effect or consequence)

Possible countermeasures (risk mitigation action plan)

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Process Decision Program Chart

Process Decision Program Chart (PDPC) is one of the seven management tools.  It helps in systematically identifying the shortfalls in a project/process plan which is being underway.


PDPC helps to create countermeasures to prevent the plan from failing by changing the entire plan itself or we can be ready with necessary remedies when the problem occurs.


When To Use PDPC:

There are certain prerequisites as to when to use the PDPC for better results and they are:


1.  Whenever we start a new process;


2.  Whenever the project under question is very large and complex;


3.  When the cost of failure would be huge.


How To Create PDPC:

PDPC can be created with the help of a tree diagram.


1.  In the tree diagram, at the first level, we have to mention the objective of the proposed plan at a high level.


2.  In the second level, the main activities required to be done for the plan should be listed out.


3.  At the third level, elaborate details of the tasks have to listed out to accomplish the proposed plan. 


4.  The fourth level will contain all the potential problems for the plan linked to the detailed tasks.


5.  All the tasks and their related potential problems have to be brainstormed to prepare counter measures.  We have to identify all the countermeasures and strike off the ones that may not be feasible to apply or we may have to drop some of the countermeasures for which the necessity may not arise at all.  Eventually, these countermeasures will be captured at the fifth level as cloud form.


These countermeasures can be used to revise the plan itself before the process starts or we can have the proper countermeasures in place to be used whenever any problem occurs.

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