The 8D problem-solving process is team structured, consisting of 8 steps (the ‘8 disciplines’). It is a methodology to find the root cause of a problem, put in an interim fix while a deeper investigation is carried out, and then put in place a permanent solution that prevents the problem being repeated.
The Eight ‘8D Problem Solving Process’ Steps
The 8D problem-solving process is team structured, consisting of 8 steps (or disciplines) which are:
1. TEAM: The best team would consist of people who have; specific knowledge of a product or process, time to dedicate to the effort, the skill set to apply to solve the problem, authority to make decisions. Collectively, the team would be ‘the subject matter experts’ on this particular problem. Bear in mind, the team may change for each particular problem being solved.
2. DEFINITION: At this stage, the team starts to understand the problem in more detail. It would include using analytical tools (risk analysis, SWOT analysis…). It is critical the team builds a clear picture of the problem and reports this to the stakeholders so that they have a full understanding of the implications of the problem.
3. INTERIM FIX: Implementation of a short-term fix will stop the problem escalating until a permanent corrective action can be implemented. The main objective here is to stop defective products from reaching the customer or end-user.
4. ROOT CAUSE ANALYSIS: Identifying the root cause of the problem is essential. Ideally, the team can verify the root cause has been found by being able to turn the problem on and off at will. There are a number of tools used during this process such as Brainstorming, Five Whys, FMEA, Fault Tree, Fishbone Diagram, Flowcharts, and Affinity Diagrams to name a few.
5. CORRECTIVE ACTION: Once the root cause has been identified, the team should be able to generate corrective actions that can be tested for verification. Guidelines to consider for implementation are:
- The solution should be practical
- The solution should be feasible
- The solution should be cost-effective
- The solution should be stable and not fail after implementation
6. VALIDATION AND IMPLEMENTATION OF CORRECTIVE ACTION: A key step is to verify and validate the corrective action/s to ensure the problem is solved without having any other side effects or knock-on effects. Examples of tests that can be utilized in this step are the HALT (highly accelerated life test) or the HASS (highly accelerated stress screening) test.
7. PREVENT RECURRENCE: Here the team are ensuring the problem does not reoccur. They will be updating processes and procedures, training and sharing the knowledge of what they discovered during the process, and ensuring all documentation is up-to-date.
8. TEAM ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: It is important that the team get recognized for their efforts in resolving the problem. This will motivate other staff and potential future team members.
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