In the current environment, a successful business must quickly respond and adapt to changing customer conditions and regulatory edicts in competitive industry-specific segments. Today this challenge is being tested with incessant customer demands for high quality, cost-effective, and customized mass-produced products and receptive supporting services.

The Eight Disciplines (8Ds) is a team-oriented problem-solving analysis technique that helps organizations operate and maintain a quality production process and support delivery of highly responsive customer service experience. The 8Ds focus is on product and process improvement with a purpose to identify, correct, and eliminate recurring problems that impact customer satisfaction and brand loyalty.

The 8Ds technique has proven useful in product and process improvement as it establishes a standard practice, with prominence on facts and statistics with emphasis on the analysis of problem origination and uncovering root causes.

While its genesis focused initially on the manufacturing sector, currently it is successfully applied to most industry problem-solving initiatives.

“The best way to predict your future is to create it” 
Peter Drucker

The U.S. Government first standardized the 8Ds concept in the 1940s, and it was later popularized, in the 1980s, as a ‘best practice’ by Ford Motor Company as their primary method of documenting problem-solving efforts.

8Ds Use – Why?

The 8Ds technique is regarded as a mission-critical approach when the problem(s):

    1. Is overly complicated and requires multi-functional business and technology resources to analyze and solve for situations such as: properly

    • Repeated issues without resolution.
    • More significant process quality problems.
    • Complaints from customers related to quality.

    2. Require multiple cross-organizational business units.

    The 8Ds Process

    Although it originally comprised of eight (8) disciplines and augmented with an initial planning stage – D-0.

    The 8Ds process essentials cover:

    D-0: Planning

    1. Prepare a high-level summary for solving the problem(s) and determine prerequisites.
    2. Create a project charter and project plan with scope, approach, structure, goals, deliverables, milestones, timeframes, etc.
    3. Create Project Team organizational roles and responsibilities.
    4. Provide emergency response actions.
    5. Obtain an executive sponsor.

    D-1: Team Selection & Set-up

    1. Select Team Leader with appropriate experience, knowledge, and skills to manage the 8Ds project.
    2. Provide Team Leader with appropriate cross-discipline authority to manage to a successful conclusion.
    3. Recruit cross-functional team of employees (or external consultants) with required product/process knowledge to staff the project.

    D-2: Problem Identification

      1. Develop a Problem Statement on the perceived problem(s) and provide as much detail regarding the current issue (s) including:

      • Who: Identify internal and external customer stakeholders that submit complaints.
      What: Identify and document the problem(s) accurately.
      • When: Identify the timeframe of issue identification.
      Where: Determine the locations where the problem is currently occurring.
      • Why: Identify known elucidations of the issue (s).
      How: Identity in what mode or situation the problem is materializing.
      How much: Quantify the size and magnitude of the item (s).

      2. Use Why-Why Analysis, 5W2H, or similar tool.

      D-3: Problem Containment

      1. Define and implement containment actions to isolate the problem(s) within the operating environment.

      D-4: Identify Root Causes

        1. Understand the difference between possible causes and real causes.
        2. Determine and verify the problem(s) root causes and escape points concerning considerations for:

        • Employees
        • Machine / Technology
        • Material
        • Measurements / Reporting
        • Methods
        • Work Site Environment

        3. Identify all applicable root causes that identify why problem(s) is occurring.
        4. Identify how the problem(s) was recognized when it initially occurred. All causes shall be verified/proved.
        5. Use the Five Whys Tool or Ishikawa Diagrams to map identified root causes against the effect and problem identified.
        6. Test each potential root cause against the identified problem(s).
        7. Identify corrective action(s) to eliminate identified root causes.

        D-5: Select Corrective Actions

        1. Verify corrective actions to resolve the problem(s).
        2. Using pre-production programs, quantitatively confirm that selected corrective actions will successfully solve the issue (s).

        D-6: Implement Corrective Actions

        1. Implement selected corrective actions.
        2. Create and implement internal controls to ensure root cause elimination.

        D-7: Install Preventative Measures

        1. Modify enterprise information systems, policies, practices, and procedures to prevent recurrence of the current problem(s) and similar problems.
        2. Frequently revisit and review the process measures, again to ensure effectiveness and avoid backsliding.
        3. Mistake-proof the organizational infrastructure.
        4. Identify other potential areas where the same or similar problem(s) could occur and implement the same or similar corrective actions and preventative measures.

        D-8: Celebrate Team Success

        1. Congratulate Team Leaders and members for their successful contribution.
        2. Publicize Team’s collective effort achievement enterprise-wide.

        8Ds Value

        8Ds was created to represent the ‘best practices’ in business problem-solving. When performed correctly, this problem-solving technique improves product and process quality and reliability but also prepares your organization for future problems.

        The key benefits for the successful use of 8Ds include:

        • Create/enrich problem-solving lessons learned database.
        • Improve capability to recognize systemic variations associated with known problem root causes quickly.
        • Improve employee productivity.
        • Improve business profitability.
        • Increase customer satisfaction and loyalty.
        • Increase organizational efficiency.
        • Lessen delivery time.
        • Lower operating costs.
        • Streamline targeted processes; eliminate unnecessary activities.

        The Way Forward

        Many organizations encounter repeat problems with a process, product, and service. Many times, these problems are reported from customers directly and can negatively impact brand loyalty and reputation. Use of the 8Ds was created to address issues with quality, eliminate their root cause, and prevent future recurrence of the same or similar problems.

        Knowledge Compass consultants successfully deliver an 8Ds project that improves the overall quality of clients’ processes, products, and services, thereby enhancing customer confidence and loyalty and positively impacting their corporate productivity and profitability.

        Knowledge Compass provides consulting services with the use of an array of Frameworks, Analyses Tools, and Interactions from their Best Practices Consultant Toolbox.