Eight Disciplines (8D) of Problem Solving Approach

What 8D method is

8D, stands for eight disciplines, is a well-recognized and often used problem-solving approach. It’s mostly used by quality engineers and/or other professionals to get to the root cause of a recurring issue, eliminate the number of the problems, and hopefully solve it once and for all.

In a nutshell, 8D, or eight disciplines, is an effective method to stop complex, recurring, and without known root cause questions from happening again.

In this post, we’ll dive into the concept of eight disciplines, so you’ll have a better idea about it. You can also download the free 8D approach for problem-solving report template, and use it to solve problems in your project.

What 8D method can do

The 8D, or eight disciplines, method is used to:

  • Identify the root causes of a recurring issue in a project;
  • Design the corrective actions to the problem;
  • Overview the implementation of the corrective actions;
  • Keep the team from jumping to conclusions too early;
  • Prevent similar problems from happening again.

The 8D method is especially important when:

  • The problem is so complicated that it requires more than one expert to solve;
  • The problem requires resources from multiple levels in the company to solve.

What 8D method cannot do

Effective and scientific the 8D method is, it’s not quite  helping is:

  • Root causes of the problem is already known;
  • It’s not a recurring problem;
  • The problem can be solved by a single person alone;
  • The problem has obviously answers and solutions;
  • You’re choosing between different solutions and the one in the 8D method is one of them.

This is because:

  • It could take several weeks or even months to solve a problem once the 8D approach is taken;
  • It takes at least 4 people from 4 departments to start the 8D problem-solving process;
  • It requires higher level of resources allocation from senior management.

After all, you need to make sure that you’re using the 8D approach to solve the problem, not adding one to your team and organization. Use it wisely and only when absolutely necessary, and you’ll see the charm of it.

8 Disciplines Breakdown

If you don’t have an 8D approach report yet, you can download one from: Free 8D Report/ Eight Disciplines Problem-Solving Report Template Download.

Now, let’s breakdown the 8 disciplines for you, so you know how to use it to solve the critical recurring problem in your project.

D0: Project background information

In this part, you need to specify whose problem the 8D approach is going to help, the supplier or you, the customer. Then jot down the information of the 8D approach starter, and move on.

D1: Identify team members, roles and responsibilities

Form a committed, devoted team with skills and experience in the product or process field, and preferably, understand the 8D method.

Assign them with appropriate team roles and responsibilities, and if you find yourself short of helping hand, try look outside of your team and seek help from external resources. Just keep the idea of solving problems in mind, and you’ll find your way.

D2: Define the problem

Ask the following questions:

  • When did the problem occur? At what time did it happen again?
  • Where was the problem found?
  • What standards do you use for failure verification?
  • What’s the severity of the failure status? Critical? Major? Or minor?
  • Who is affected by the problem?
  • How much is the problem cause in money, time and people?
  • How often does the problem occur?

These questions are not yet an analysis, but they are a great place for you to start.

D3: Implement & verify containment plan/ action(s)

Getting to the root cause of the problem could take quite a while, before you reach that point, you need to provide a “band-aid” to the problem, or it could go south so quickly that it could cost you way much than you’d expected.

The interim containment plan is such a band-aid.

But you should be well aware that the containment plan is not corrective actions, and it’s not a solutions. It just provides you with a window so you can find the actual solution to fix the project problem once and for all.

D4: Define & verify root cause(s)

This is by far the most important and most tricky part of the 8D approach. Because you need to get to the bottom of the problem and actually find out the root cause.

You need to tell the symptoms from the root cause, and it could take you and your time some time before you dig deeper enough to get what you want.

Make sure that you’re not providing description to the symptoms. Since it’s not how you deal with problems that require the 8D approach.

On your way to the root causes, examine each of your findings by asking “Does it explain all that is know about what the problem is, and that is known about what the problem isn’t?” Symptoms or causes that don’t answer “yes” to both of the questions is definitely not part of the root cause.

Take your time verifying the root cause, since it might require a series of confirmation processes down the road.

D5: Corrective action plan – permanent action plan(s)

When the root causes of the problem become clear, so does the permanent action. However, in some cases, it takes a systematic analysis to find the permanent corrective actions.

But the criteria to choose the action plan are the same: practicability, feasibility, cost effectiveness, and robust. Just to name a few.

It’s also important that you validate the permanent action on a small lots before implementing it in full range. If needed, include a design verification test (DVT) and/or a reliability demonstration test (RDT).

D6: Verify action effectiveness

When the permanent action plan is approved, it’s time to get it implemented.

The action plan defines what need to be done, who are responsible for the job, and when should it be completed.

D7:  Preventative action plan

One of the goals for an 8D approach is to prevent similar problems from happening again. So it’s equally important that you and your team design a preventative action plan.

Results from the permanent action plan could be a good indicator. Verify that the solutions provide satisfying outcomes, and validate that the outcome really solve the problem.

D8: Communicate results & recognize team

When the action plan actually solve the problem, and is likely to solve similar problems in the future, your team deserve the recognition.

When the problem-solving project is actually done, your team should release a final report about the lessons learnt along the way.

We understand how daunting and hard the 8D approach is, but trust us, once you get the hang of it, problems that require the 8D method to fix will no longer be a headache.

Before we wrap this up, if you have any question regrading implementing the 8D approach, or anything else at all, feel free to let us know. We’d be more than happy to help you out.

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