Evaluation and Improvement

What is Continuous Quality Improvement?

Continuous quality improvement is a process to ensure that programs are systematically and intentionally improving services and increasing positive outcomes for the participants they serve. CQI is a cyclical, data-driven process that is proactive, not reactive. It is an iterative, ongoing process that is defined differently in different disciplines and fields of practice. However, generally speaking, CQI involves the following components:

  • Plan: establishing a plan with benchmarks, timelines, assigned tasks, and responsibilities to improve
  • Do: identifying, describing, and analyzing strengths and weaknesses
  • Study: testing and implementing solutions
  • Act: evaluating the results and revising the plan

The CQI Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) cycle is illustrated below, and more information can be found in chapter 6 of the Systems Building Resource Guide, which discusses the role of CQI in program planning and implementation. Our focus in this guide is the use of data within the CQI cycle. CQI is most effective when it becomes a natural part of the way everyday work is done.



Plan evidence-informed or evidence-based programs and practices that meet the needs and desires of target population.

  • Know your target population
  • Select EBP or EIP programs & practices
  • Develop a logic model
  • Hire and train staff that "fit" the requirements of the service model
  • Involve consumers in each step of the process


Provide the services as intended.

  • Document activities
  • Monitor fidelity
  • Provide ongoing staff supervision and support
  • Collect data
    • Formally, through evaluation activities, focus groups, needs assessments, self-assessment, and peer review.
    • Informally, through self-reflection, feedback from consumers, staff, funders and other stakeholders.
  • Report on findings
  • Involve all stakeholders in analysis and reporting


Learn from the data.

  • Review and analyze data
    • Formally, through staff supervision, full staff meetings, board meetings, and
    • Informally, through daily discussions with staff and participants; self-assessment of job performance, observation of day-to-day participant progress and satisfaction.


Adjust practices based on findings.

  • Make decisions on how to improve practices
    • Formally, by adopting new practices, programs, policies and procedures based on findings, and
    • Informally, by making personal adjustments to improve job performance.
  • Implement the decisions

Source: FRIENDS National Resource Center, retrieved from http://friendsnrc.org/continuous-quality-improvement.
Note: EBP is evidence-based practices and programs; EIP is evidence-informed practices.


[9] FRIENDS National Center for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention. (n.d.). Continuous quality improvement [Web page]. Retrieved from http://friendsnrc.org/continuous-quality-improvement.