The 8D Problem-Solving Method: What It Is And How To Use It

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 14 July 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Many organisations experience a dynamic business environment, which leads to various challenges to overcome. It is important for organisations to quickly find solutions and fix recurring issues that affect their operations and stakeholders. By learning the 8D problem-solving method, you can help create a team that identifies complications and applies short- and long-term solutions to benefit an organisation. In this article, we define the 8D problem-solving method, discuss how and when to use it and explain some of its benefits.

What Is The 8D Problem-Solving Method?

The 8D problem-solving method is a comprehensive, qualitative and collaborative practice that professionals use to recognise, fix and eliminate recurring problems. It is a systematic procedure that involves improving business processes and operational efficiency. This method uses a team-based approach that focuses on eight distinct stages to investigate the underlying cause of an issue and how to solve it. This method enables an organisation to review concerns and prevent future problems that may adversely influence the business.

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How To Apply The 8D Problem-Solving Method?

An organisation benefits from continually optimising its production processes and preventing complications that may hinder production. This approach offers businesses a systematic and practical procedure to improve their efficiency and adopt corrective measures when necessary. The problem-solving method follows these steps:

1. D0: preparing a plan

The process starts with preparing a plan and evaluating the problem the organisation wants to solve. In this step, company leaders take information from different points of reference and develop a strategy. Typically, in this stage, they determine the problem that needs immediate attention, the essential resources they can use to fix it and the parties relevant to the problem-solving process. The planning stage lays the groundwork for the next steps.

2. D1: forming a team

This process follows the creation of a team that may be part of the problem-solving procedure. In the team-building stage, the team coordinator often chooses people with extensive knowledge of the operations processes. They also determine the areas that require attention so they can select professionals with skills relevant to these areas. The team may also designate a leader responsible for guiding their efforts during the problem-solving process. In addition, this stage is often when team members learn the task's scope and their priorities and objectives.

3. D2: describing the problem

Organisations typically define and study the situation so they can successfully solve it. In this stage, the team examines the issue that requires a corrective measure, and management ensures the proper communication to all team members. Describing the situation in quantifiable terms helps assess the scope and type of problem. Typically, during this stage, the team write a problem statement, collect data and create diagrams and flowcharts to supplement the project plan.

4. D3: developing an interim containment plan

Problem solving is a process that goes through various stages that take time. When developing a substantial and permanent solution, it is important to have a temporary contingency plan for the interim. Containing the problem helps mitigate any immediate impact the situation has on the product or customers. The interim containment plan typically uses quick, simple and inexpensive measures that the team can reverse at a later stage, if necessary. It is important to verify the results to prevent further damage by seeking feedback and actively monitoring the situation.

5. D4: analysing the root cause

With a temporary plan in place, the next stage involves an in-depth review of the root cause of the issue. The team examines every potential root cause using deep analysis and testing. They take all relevant test data and discuss the point in the process where the unidentifiable issue arose. This issue is the escape point, and it helps the organisation improve its systems so it can better identify future challenges and prevent a recurrence. Typically, organisations use business and visualisation tools like the five whys, fishbone diagrams, affinity diagrams and Pareto charts to examine the root cause thoroughly.

6. D5: identifying the permanent corrective action

In this stage, the team tests their solutions to offset the problem. After identifying the most likely solutions, the team examines the corrective measures against the core causes of the issue and the escape point. With this information, they can compare the corrective actions and document their conclusions. In this stage, they may also conduct a risk assessment of any permanent solutions they develop and choose the most suitable one.

7. D6: implementing and validating the permanent corrective action

After identifying and testing the most likely solution, it is important to properly implement the permanent corrective action to remove the root causes and escape points. Typically, the organisation withdraws the temporary containment plans, develops a project plan for proper implementation and then communicates it to all stakeholders. To validate the plan, the organisation monitors the immediate results and observes the outcomes over a long period. It also monitors the efficacy of the permanent corrective action.

8. D7: preventing recurrence

This stage helps the organisation use the knowledge they gained from the problem-solving process across similar products and operations to prevent future recurrences. Afterwards, the organisation can modify its internal systems and adopt best practices that ensure the proactive elimination of issues. Other activities in this stage include updating all existing databases, manuals and standard work procedures and ensuring all control plans are in place.

9. D8: recognising individual and team contributions

In the final step of this process, the team looks at their work product and discusses the project and its accomplishments. Communicating the successful outcomes and comparing the situation before and after the 8D process helps motivate the team. It is important to acknowledge individual efforts and provide feedback at this time, as this can improve work satisfaction.

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When To Apply The 8D Problem-Solving Method?

There are many situations where you can use this problem-solving method to identify areas of concern and prevent risks. Below are some examples of when you can use this process:

  • When a business receives high levels of customer complaints regarding services or the product

  • Upon the discovery of safety hazards, work risks and regulatory issues

  • When the product tests show elevated rates of instability

  • When there are high levels of manufacturing concerns

  • When there are high levels of scrap materials and waste that slow operations

  • When there is an increase in recall rates among products

What Are the Benefits Of This Method?

This problem-solving method is an effective process an organisation or individual can benefit from. It contributes to business growth and safeguards it from challenging situations. Here are some of the benefits of this method:

  • It emphasises team effort and improves the collaborative capacity of the organisation.

  • It encourages individuals to be a part of the solution and become effective problem-solvers.

  • It helps the organisation improve their internal systems and processes and contributes to efficiency.

  • It helps an organisation better understand its core issues and their root causes.

  • It offers a decisive action plan that can help an organisation prevent other potential pitfalls.

  • It offers an opportunity for individuals to familiarise themselves with concepts like root cause analysis (RCA) and failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA).

  • It contributes to the overall growth across different divisions as solutions may affect similar products and operations throughout the organisation.

  • It reduces customer issues by focusing on a fast response to the issue.

  • It helps an organisation reduce its waste and improves its ability to utilise its resources optimally.

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What factors are important for this problem-solving process?

Some prerequisites are important for successfully implementing this problem-solving method. These features are often instrumental for an organisation or an individual to master the various elements that make up the process. The factors that are important for this method are as follows:

  • A strong team that tends to have a collaborative mindset and focuses on collective abilities

  • Technically skilled professionals from a diverse range of fields relevant to the operations

  • Analytical skills that enable the team to recognise and comprehend the issues

  • An incentive to follow the process in a systematic way

  • An effective interim plan to isolate the immediate effects of the problem

  • Adequate resources and the ability to use them in an appropriate manner

  • Proper channels of communication and the sharing of information in a timely manner

  • Decisive leadership and the ability to plan projects

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