8D short for the 8 Disciplines, is a globally recognized problem-solving methodology. It is primarily used as a quality tool where customer complaints of faulty or defective products are needing to be addressed.
However, it is not exclusively used for customer complaints; it is well suited to these situations, and many large organizations would expect a framework like 8D to have been followed and documented to demonstrate what actions were taken to solve the problem and reassure the customer that it will not reoccur.
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Why use 8D?
8D is a methodology used in problem-solving that sets out 8 clear steps to follow to ensure the correct actions are taken in the right order to minimize disruption to the customer as well as effectively address the root cause of the problem and sustain the solution to prevent it from happening again. 8D formalized the process to do this.
What are the Steps in 8D?
D1 – Team Formation
The first step in 8D is team formation, this is an essential step if you want to solve the problem you are looking to address successfully. A Project is unlikely to be successful if you do not have the right team supporting it. The team selection should be cross-functional and include key stakeholders from different parts of the organisation that have a relationship to the issue or its process. This should also consist of internal/external suppliers in the process and internal/external customers of the process.
D2 – Define and Describe the problem
Once you have your project team assembled the next focus is ensuring the project team has a good and consistent understanding of what the problem is. To achieve this the team should collect details about the problem and completely understand the depth of the problem. The details used for this understanding should be based on data and facts and not hunches or experience.
D3 – Contain the Problem
Now that the team has a clear understanding of the problem based on data the team’s focus should be on containing the problem. This means putting into place short-term containment actions to prevent the effects from continuing in the process and especially preventing them from reaching the customer.
This could be done by taking action to isolate a bad batch of products from further progressing through the process or ultimately stopping the production altogether if the process continues to produce defects until the root cause of the problem is addressed.
It is important that this step is done as soon as possible to reduce any risk of defective products or parts going to the customer which could result in returns, complaints or loss of customers.
D4 – Root Cause Analysis
Once the problem is contained the next task is to identify the root cause or causes of the problem. It is important to treat the root cause of the problem and not just the visible symptoms to ensure the problem is effectively solved. If the symptoms are addressed it is likely the problem will reappear in the process in a different form simply moving the problem from one place to another.
For this methods and tools such as the Cause and Effect diagram (also referred to as Ishikawa Diagram, Fishbone Diagram or 6Ms) 5 Why or Why-Why, Pareto Charts or Box Plots may be used to identify the root causes using data and evidence to verify the root cause.
D5 – Corrective Actions
When the root cause has been successfully identified the next step should be for the team to identify suitable corrective actions to solve the problem. This is where a cross-functional diverse team is useful to use brainstorming, groupthink and affinity diagrams to identify, group and prioritised solution actions.
D6 – Validate Corrective Actions
Once the corrective actions have been decided, the team should then validate if the solutions are effective. This can be done by testing or simulating the solutions in the process and collecting data to identify if the solution and solve the problem. Any testing or trials should be done on a statistically significant sample size before it is confirmed the solutions are valid and have solved the problem. Steps 4 to 6 should be repeated until the problem has been completely eliminated.
D7 – Identify and Implement Preventive Actions
Once the corrective actions are validated the systems and processes should be updated to reflect the change, such as updating standard operating procedures (SOPs), policies, methods, technical drawings or work instructions. This should standardise the solution and ensure it is the new or updated way the process is conducted engineering out the old process and preventing a reoccurrence of the problem.
D8 – Team and Individual Recognition
Finally, once the problem as been solved the team should be rewarded and recognised for the contribution and support of the change. This is especially important is 8D and general problem solving is new to the organisation as it will allow those involved to see they are valued for their input and are able to support solving business problems making it more likely they will be actively involved in future problem-solving situations or be more aware of other business problems and highlight them to also be solved. This, in turn, increases the effectiveness of the business, employees and its processes.
When to use 8 Disciplines?
As mentioned above 8D is a great tool to address problems with processes that are producing rejects or defects in a process that might cause customer complaints. 8D is an ideal problem-solving methodology to use where it is fairly complex to understand the problem and the root cause and corrective actions are needed. It is also recommended that 8D is used where the PDCA process methodology would not be efficient in resolving the problem.
Finally, the 8 Disciplines (8D) is a well-known problem-solving methodology that is primarily used as a quality tool for addressing customer complaints about faulty or defective products. It is not, however, used solely for customer complaints, and many large organisations expect a framework like 8D to have been followed and documented to demonstrate the actions taken to solve the problem and prevent its recurrence.
8D is useful in problem-solving because it specifies eight specific steps to take to ensure that the correct actions are taken in the correct order to minimise disruption to the customer while effectively addressing the root cause of the problem. Team formation, defining and describing the problem, containing the problem, root cause analysis, corrective actions, validating corrective actions, identifying and implementing preventive actions, and recognising the team and individuals involved are all part of the 8D process.
Overall, 8D is an excellent problem-solving methodology to employ when it is difficult to understand the problem and its root cause and corrective actions are required. It is also suggested that 8D be used in situations where the PDCA process methodology would be ineffective in resolving the problem. Organizations that follow the 8D process can effectively solve problems, improve processes, and increase customer satisfaction, ultimately leading to increased effectiveness and success.
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Riesenberger, C.A. and Sousa, S.D., 2010, June. The 8D methodology: an effective way to reduce recurrence of customer complaints. In Proceedings of the world congress on engineering (Vol. 3).
Kaplík, P., Prístavka, M., Bujna, M. and Viderňan, J., 2013. Use of 8D method to solve problems. Advanced Materials Research, 801, pp.95-101.