Industries ranging from health care and manufacturing to retail often rely on strategic methods for addressing issues. One of the most common is the 8D problem-solving method, which involves identifying the root of the problem and developing preventative measures. Implementing this measure can help teams collaborate in a way that increases efficiency, reduces costs and improves customer satisfaction.
In this article, we explain 8D problem-solving, how to apply the eight disciplines and discuss the benefits and applications of this process.
What is 8D problem-solving?
8D problem-solving is an approach that quality engineers and manufacturers use to identify and address challenges throughout a project. 8D refers to the eight different disciplines, or steps, that the process entails. Note that since its inception, the 8D problem-solving method has added a stage for planning at the beginning of the process.
While the 8D problem-solving method first gained popularity in the automotive industry, industries ranging from health care and manufacturing to finance, government and retail implement it today. 8D works by finding the root cause of a problem and conducting a statistical analysis. Then, it implements interim solutions that can alleviate some of the negative effects of the problem while a team continues searching for and implementing permanent corrective actions.
How to use 8D problem-solving
Here’s how to use 8D problem-solving:
1. D0: Prepare and plan
Before starting the 8D process, evaluate the problem you’re trying to solve. Collect information about the different effects of the problem and the most severe issues that may result from the problem. Keep a checklist of these issues to better work to resolve them, including by deciding what resources you may need. Consider seeking feedback from others involved to ensure a well-informed and rational approach. During the 8D process, try to protect the customer from any ongoing negative effects associated with the problem until you’re able to solve it.
2. D1: Form a team
Create a team of people familiar with the various products and processes. Choose people who also have the time and skills in the necessary areas to solve the problem and implement corrective actions. Some of the different actions that comprise this step in the 8D problem-solving process include:
Naming team members and setting up the team
Appointing a team leader
Developing and sharing team guidelines
Going over team goals and priorities
Arranging team-building exercises, if needed
3. D2: Describe the problem
Identify the problem in clear, quantifiable terms by identifying the who, what, where, when, why, how and how many (5W2H) of the problem. Then, clearly describe the problem. Actions for this step include:
Developing a problem statement
Deciding if the problem is caused by a change in something already there or if it’s a new problem
Developing a project plan with goals and objectives
Creating a diagram to pinpoint possible causes
Marking a flowchart of the process, including various steps as related to the problem description
4. D3: Develop interim containment actions
Define and implement actions that can contain the problem within the business and isolate it from any customer. Containing the problem is a temporary solution while the team develops permanent corrective or preventive actions to solve the problem. After defining and implementing an interim containment action, the team also checks with the customer to see if the action has been effective.
5. D4: Define and verify root causes and escape points
Look for causes that may explain why the problem happened. Test each potential root cause against the problem description and related test data. Try to find where the first indications of a problem arose and identify why your team didn’t notice it. This point is called the escape point. Those using the 8D model can consider all potential root causes before verifying or dismissing them. Some people may use the five whys and cause-and-effect diagrams to test the various causes of the problem they’ve identified.
6. D5: Choose and verify permanent corrective actions (PCAs) for the problem
Choose the most likely solution to remove the root cause of the problem, then come up with the most likely solution to the issues with the escape point. Double-check to ensure that both these solutions have a good chance of correcting the problem for the customer without any negative outcomes or unwanted effects.
7. D6: Implement and validate permanent corrective actions
The next step is to plan, define and implement the ideal permanent corrective actions, or CAs, to remove any root causes and escape points. Once you implement these corrective actions, you can remove any interim containment actions. Observe the results over a long period and verify the success of the new solutions by seeing how they affect the customer. Consider identifying the negative effects of these newly implemented solutions.
8. D7: Prevent recurrence
Modify the management systems, operation systems, methods and procedures to ensure that this problem is less likely to happen again. Look for opportunities to improve these systems and procedures to eliminate the current problem you’ve been working to resolve. Additionally, you can look for ways to improve your methods to stop similar problems from developing later.
9. D8: Recognize team and individual contribution
The final step in the 8D process is to review the problem-solving project and the group’s work. Document everything and save all notes, lessons, research and test data. Then, openly acknowledge your appreciation for the team’s collaborative efforts while also recognizing the contributions of team members.
Why apply 8D problem-solving?
8D problem-solving offers many benefits. It can help:
Focus on collaboration and cooperation rather than relying solely on individual contribution
Allow team members to become familiar with an efficient and successful method of problem-solving
Allow the project team to learn from earlier problems or errors
Improve knowledge of problem-solving techniques and tools so that team members can more easily address other problems that they may encounter
Encourage open communication around problematic situations, which can increase teamwork overall
Keep management informed about problems that affect the business so that they can address problems more quickly and effectively
Encourage company-wide improvements
When to apply 8D problem-solving
You might use the 8D problem-solving method in situations such as:
Someone discovers that there are concerns about safety or regulations.
Customers express concerns about a product’s functionality.
Tests and usage reveal above-average failure rates.
Reports reveal high levels of waste, scraps and manufacturing defects.
Product testing reveals high numbers of failed tests or poor performance.
I hope you find this article helpful.