Process Decision Program Chart

A Process Decision Program Chart (PDPC) is a tool for identifying and documenting the steps required to complete a process or project. It is intended to help prepare contingency plans by mapping out every conceivable event that can occur when moving from a problem to possible solutions.

This technique allows you to systematically identify what might go wrong with a plan, so you can create appropriate contingency plans to limit risks.



About Process Decision Program Charts (PDPC)

A Process Decision Program Chart (PDPC) is a graphical tool designed to help prepare contingency plans for a project or process. It provides a structured and systematic means of finding errors with a plan while it is being created. This tool identifies plan activities and asks “what-if” questions to uncover potential problem areas. Once potential issues are found, countermeasures can be developed for any problems that might occur.

Process Decision Program Charts are used to;

  1. outline the steps involved in completing a process or project,
  2. anticipate any problems that might arise in each step, and
  3. map out appropriate contingency plans to limit risks.



Creating a Process Decision Program Chart

The first step in creating a PDPC is to break down tasks using a tree diagram. The tree diagram will be extended to create a PDPC.

A PDPC is added to the bottom level tasks on a tree diagram. It simply extends the chart a couple of levels to identify risks and countermeasures. Different shaped boxes (cloud shaped) are used to highlight the risks and countermeasures.



Steps to Create a Process Decision Program Chart

Develop a Tree Diagram for a Proposed Process or Plan

  • Write a statement of the goal or project objective on the first level
  • Write the main activities on the second level
  • List the associated tasks needed to accomplish the main activities on the third level
  • Ensure that all activities and tasks have been considered


Brainstorm What Could Go Wrong

  • For each bottom-level task, identify possible problems that could occur while performing those tasks.
  • For each task, ask “what-if” questions
  • List possible problems that could occur
  • Review the list of potential problems and eliminate the ones that are improbable or whose consequences would be insignificant.

Add Potential Problems to the Tree Diagram

  • Select the possible problems based on a combination of probability of the risk occurring and the potential impact should the problem occur.
  • Connect the remaining potential problems to the Tree Diagram as a fourth level linked to the tasks. These are represented as “what-if” items.


Identify Countermeasures

  • For each “what-if” question (potential problem), identify possible countermeasures that you could take to minimize the effect of the risk.
  • Put the countermeasures as a fifth level, outlined in clouds
  • Connect countermeasures to the tasks to complete the chart.


Evaluate Each Countermeasure

  • Review each countermeasure to decide how practical each one is. Consider how easily it can be implemented, its cost, time required, and effectiveness.
  • Designate practical and effective countermeasures with “0”, and impractical and difficult countermeasures with “X.”



Additional Links

Seven Management Planning Tools

Activity Network Diagram

Interrelationship Diagram

Tree Diagram

Affinity Diagram

SWOT Analysis


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