8D Problem Solving | How We Leverage The 8 Disciplines
7 minutes, 45 seconds read
The 8D problem-solving model is an invaluable tool for when things go wrong or need to be improved. It’s a collaborative and methodical approach to addressing critical problems, often used to enhance production processes. It does this by facilitating root cause analysis, containment plan development, and corrective solution implementation.
When it comes to manufacturing, service delivery, or any number of other sectors, problems will occur. It’s common for businesses to experience issues with product quality, process changes, or scaling their operations. Recurring problems cost businesses money, use up resources, and decrease efficiency. Problems can also frustrate customers, disengage team members, and concern shareholders, so it’s crucial to address them quickly.
In order to resolve issues and drive improvement, it’s important to understand what’s at the core and then be proactive in addressing it. Whether you need to identify the root cause of a problem, take short-term corrective actions, or implement a permanent long-term solution, the 8D method can help. In this article, we explore how, when, and why to use the 8D problem solving approach.
What is 8D Problem Solving?
8D problem solving is a practical approach to addressing negative issues in business. The ‘8D’ stands for ‘eight disciplines’ which provide a structured framework that project teams can work through. By following the steps that it outlines, organizations can solve problems that are critical to operations or particularly challenging.
This model was initially used by the US military during the Second World War. It was known as the ‘Team Oriented Problem Solving’ (TOPS) method which Ford Motors later popularized. The automotive manufacturer refined the process and it was then renamed to the Eight Disciplines (8D) of Problem Solving. 8D is sometimes confused as a lean six sigma tool but it actually isn’t one. However, it can be useful in Kaizen continuous improvement efforts and striving towards lean processes.
Why Use These Disciplines?
The goal of 8D problem solving is to contain and solve the primary root causes of a problem. It provides a framework for undertaking the initial analysis, pilot testing, and final execution of a solution. Addressing problems in this way is beneficial for a number of reasons;
- Containment – the eight disciplines problem solving approach allows you to first contain the issue so that its negative effects are mitigated.
- Root cause analysis (RCA) – it then enables you to identify the core of the problem so that an effective solution can be found and repetitions of the issue are avoided.
- Increases successful outcomes – using a proven framework like 8D problem solving increases the likelihood that an issue will be solved successfully and for the long term.
- Efficiency – this model identifies problems that can negatively impact efficiency and productivity so that businesses operate to their fullest potential.
- Profitability – removing problems means that operations run more smoothly and there are fewer customer refunds, both of which contribute to greater profitability.
Enabled by PDCA, problem solving allows companies to execute containment in a collaborative manner. It facilitates the analysis of root causes and the implementation of both corrective and preventative actions. It provides a structured approach that is transparent and enables cross-functional collaboration so that the best possible solution is found.
Who It Can Help
Most organizations have problems that need solving, so the 8D methodology is universally applicable. However, there are industries and sectors where this structured approach is particularly useful;
- Manufacturing – automotive industry and engineering companies that manufacture products or parts.
- Companies looking to scale – as it’s important to iron out any kinks in processes and procedures before scaling (when small problems quickly become magnified).
- Medium and large-scale enterprises – those that have scaled, but are still experiencing growing pains.
How to Apply the 8D’s
Applying the 8Ds is a matter of working through the eight steps in order. Here’s an overview of the disciplines that form the 8D framework;
- D1: Create a team
- D2: Describe the problem
- D3: Develop a containment plan
- D4: Identify and verify root causes
- D5: Validate permanent solutions
- D6: Define and implement countermeasures or corrective action
- D7: Prevention measures
- D8: Congratulate the team
Now let’s look at how to apply each of these disciplines in a little more detail.
D1 – Create a team
Create a team with members from different functions or disciplines. Having varied backgrounds and experiences will lead to the best quality inputs and most rounded end solutions. It’s recommended to have a team leader and define clear roles so that the team operates smoothly from the start.
D2: Describe the problem
The problem needs to be objectively defined in a way that captures all of the key information. It can be helpful to ask what, who, where, when, how, and how much in order to develop a clear description;
- What – what is happening?
- Who – who is being affected?
- Where – where is it occurring?
- When – when and how frequently is it happening?
- How – how does the problem take place?
- How much – quantify the impact of the problem
D3: Develop a containment plan
A quick fix is sometimes needed to solve the problem temporarily until a permanent solution can be found. It might be necessary to ensure that further customers aren’t affected or the problem doesn’t worsen before being resolved. Once you’ve developed an interim containment plan, it can help to free up resources for addressing the main problem.
D4: Identify and verify root causes
In order to solve a problem successfully, it’s vital to identify all of the root cause elements. If one is missed, then a problem may reoccur in the future despite your improvement efforts. There are several tools that can help you to identify why a problem occurred, including the 5 Whys and Fishbone diagrams.
D5: Validate permanent solutions
Once the root causes are understood, the team can begin brainstorming permanent corrections. It’s important to think through all of the options fully to understand whether there are any unwanted implications or possible side-effects. Although one solution should be agreed upon, it can be beneficial to have plan B or C options too.
D6: Define and implement countermeasures or corrective action
Once a solution is identified, it can be implemented. The outcomes should be carefully tracked to ensure the results are as expected. The PDCA (plan-do-check-act) approach is particularly useful in this regard as it allows for small-scale testing before large-scale rollout.
D7: Prevention measures
Solving problems fully means preventing them from occurring in the first place. In addition to any corrective action, preventative measures should also be implemented. This may involve reviewing management processes, operating procedures, and training manuals to ensure that best practices are followed.
D8: Congratulate the team
Once the problem is solved, the final step is to congratulate the team. It’s important to recognize their efforts and share their success across the organization. This aids motivation and employee engagement, while encouraging others to also be proactive in addressing problems.
It’s often helpful to use a digital tool for managing and executing 8D problem solving. This streamlines the entire process of project management and result tracking. Lean manufacturing software like Rever makes the problem-solving process quicker and easier by consolidating information, communication, and implementation into one handy tool. It can help you improve quality control, execute process improvements, and aid change management as you grow.
Your Problem Solving & Continuous Improvement Tool
Rever’s innovative software is all about sharing and reusing, doing and tracking. Continuous improvement becomes a hundred times easier with our innovative digital platform. Using Rever’s dashboard, you can monitor the performances of your teams, the summary of their impact, and easily identify the people making the biggest difference at your company.
Rever Cycle is our version of the PDCA methodology and guides your teams on the exact steps to follow to execute their own ideas. It allows them to capture the entire process, from identifying a problem to experimenting and implementing a solution. They can use it to capture the before and after with pictures, notes and drawings, making their ideas a reality in no time. The time of your team is too valuable to be wasted in handmade drawings and complex explanations.
At Rever, we believe that anybody can be a knowledge worker and thrive. What makes us human is the capacity to grow our intellect and will, and to use them for good. We observe, especially at work, that most people are asked to stop thinking and do as they are told. We want to change that. We enable people to achieve their full creative potential.
Would you like to learn more about 8D problem solving software and how your company can benefit? Then get a demo today with one of our friendly continuous improvement experts.
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