How to Diagnose, Treat, and Eliminate Quality Problems Using the 8D Problem Solving Process

Your Company suddenly runs into a major quality problem. You have to address it fast and thoroughly so that the problem doesnb't recur. Solving the problem may take a lot of elapsed time and effort.

Webinar Subscription 150+ regulated compliance trainings Expert-led webinars Cost-effective compliance trainings Flexibility and convenience Continuous skill enhancement 6 months unlimited viewing

The 8 Disciplines (8D) methodology, also known as Global 8D problem solving, is a disciplined and complete approach to problem-solving.

Initially, the 8D process was used in the manufacturing, aerospace, and engineering industries. Quickly its usage spread to all other industries because of its benefits and relevancy.

In this article, we will discuss the origin of the 8D methodology and its steps to diagnose, treat, and eliminate quality problems in a professional and controlled manner.

    The Origin of the 8D Problem Solving Process

    The 8D problem-solving process was developed by the Ford Motor Company. It was then published in their 1987 manual, "Team Oriented Problem Solving (TOPS). " The Company included an additional discipline, D0: Plan in the mid-90s.

    Ford's aim in developing the 8D Process was to help teams handle quality and safety problems, develop custom and permanent solutions to problems, and prevent problems from recurring.

    An Overview of 8D Problem Solving Process

    The 8D process requires you to identify and fix the problem immediately (put a Band-Aid on it) while identifying the Root Cause(s), and take steps to address the problem in the short term as well as in the long term (permanent fix).

    The 8D Working Documentation

    It is important to document your problem-solving to track the steps you take in solving the problem. It will help increase the awareness of your problem-solving strategies, promote the development of the strategy, get information regarding mistakes and missed steps, and provide an opportunity to make immediate adjustments. Here's a helpful format:

    8D Working Document

    Concern Number:

    Date Initiated:
    D0: Plan
    D1: Team members
    D2: Problem Description/Statement
    D3: Interim containment action
    D4: Root causes
    D5: Choose and validate permanent correction(s)
    D6: Implement and validate corrective action
    D7: Take preventive action
    D8: Congratulate the team (Date/Notes)

    D0: Plan

    As this step precedes the steps D1 to D8, it is called D0.

    This is where:

    • A customer or an internal manager points out that a problem exists and that it needs to be addressed.
    • A quality alert is generated
    • A rigorous effort is taken to isolate the problem from the customer
    • Management decides if the problem is minor or major and if an 8D problem-solving team must be formed

    If an 8D problem-solving method is decided, it requires management support, time, and authorization which is so necessary for the team's success.

    D1: Form a Team

    Management is in charge of forming a team that has the appropriate knowledge, skills, and experience to address the problem. The four phases of team development include:

    1. Forming
    2. Norming
    3. Storming
    4. Performing

    The management must allow sufficient time for the team to go through the above four stages of development. Sometimes, the management may decide to allocate a senior manager to provide additional backing and eliminate roadblocks for the team.

    Assigning a team leader, a subject matter expert, who has experience in handling 8D projects for the project is crucial. The management must empower the team leader to allocate resources and time required for the team.

    The team leader may enable some root cause analysis training to the team members based on the level of experience. The team leader must ensure good team management and communication between all stakeholders. It is the team leader's responsibility to make sure that the minutes of the meetings are documented and maintained, including the team performance, action plan, team member assignments, dates, and timelines.

    One of the most important aspects of the 8D process is to document the learning. Each step taken and completed; every effort put forth must be documented in a clear format.

    D2: Define the Problem and Explain it

    It is important to define the problem clearly and precisely. The problem must be defined in measurable terms. One way of doing it is to apply the 5W2H of the problem - the who, what, where, when, why, how, and how many. Answer the following to define the problem:

    Who raised the complaint?

    What complaint was raised?

    When did it begin?

    Where is the problem taking place?

    Why is the problem happening? (An estimate)

    How did the problem take place? (An estimate)

    How many problems? (quantifiable and degree)

    D3: Take Interim Containment Action

    Separating nonconforming material from the customers is critical and is done during step D0. The producer must openly and honestly communicate the problem with the recipient of the problem. Taking every effort to keep the customer away from the problem is important to ensure that the integrity of the product is preserved. This may involve auditing the product completely in the warehouse or at the customer's place. The team must ensure that the interim containment action is appropriate and adjust action plans as necessary.

    Interim containment action is only temporary and not a substitute to a permanent solution. Do remember, documentation of each step of the 8D process in the 8D working sheet is important.

    D4: Analyze the Root Cause

    The toughest part of the 8D problem-solving process is analyzing the root cause of the problem. Two variables that need to be taken into consideration:

    • The special cause
    • The random cause

    Finding the special cause of the problem is most crucial and that's the reason subject matter experts are brought together to discover the special cause. There are two types of tools used to solve the majority of the problems - the soft tools and the hard tools.

    Soft Tools Hard Tools (Statistical Analysis Tools)
    Team brainstorming Hypothesis testing
    Five why process Analysis of variance (ANOVA)
    Flowcharts Design of experiments (DOE)
    Fishbone diagram
    Checklists and check-sheets

    D5: Develop Permanent Corrective Action

    After identifying the root cause, many corrective actions may be deliberated. By using scientific methods, the best solution to the problem must be screened. Ensuring that the chosen solution is robust, cost-effective, realistic, and practical against the variability is crucial. To this end, the corrective action must be implemented on a small scale to verify how effective the chosen action is. This will help ensure that the identified corrective action does not result in unintended consequences.

    D6: Implement Permanent Corrective Actions

    This is the stage where you identify a permanent solution to the problem. Following the identification of the permanent solution, is the validation of the correction on a large scale of production. It is the team's responsibility to ensure that the correction does not give rise to other problems and to document and update all the procedures. When the team implements the permanent solution, other teams may be affected and so they should be informed and trained as needed.

    Creating an environment where all the users will have an opportunity to participate and welcoming them is important. Following this, the team should review all the suggestions and incorporate the valid ones in the total change process.

    D7: Prevent Future Reoccurrence

    The following are the team's responsibilities at this stage:

    • Monitor whether the improved process is helping meet all the team goals set at the beginning
    • Keep up and meet the requirements of the ongoing performance metrics
    • Make use of the lessons learned on similar processes
    • Ensure quality control systems are in place and validate them

    D8: Congratulate the Team

    After the task is successfully completed and the results of the process meet the customer requirements, the management should congratulate and thank the team. The team should also express their gratitude to all those who helped them complete the project successfully. They should document the success story and publish it for potential use. Emphasis must be given to the lessons learned and their application to similar processes. The team is dissolved at this stage.