Problem solving and Problem analysis tools

Problem solving and analysis forms an integral part of continuous improvement and allows the appropriate selection of kaizen, process analysis and lean concepts not only to solve problems but to uncover hidden opportunities and areas which are under performing. Many problems presented to operations managers, engineers, consultants and lean champions will have a variety of syptoms and possible causes, but finding the exact cause is best achieved through a structured analysis process using some of the concepts and tools listed below.

The problem solving process starts with the definition of the problem statement followed by the collection of data. Both of these steps are common to all problems even thought they can sometimes be carried out in different ways. Once the problem has been defined and the relevant data collected, the analysis and solution decision making can be carried out by a number of different ways and employ different methods. Some of the most popular in lean and operational environments include:

Problem data gathering tools

Brain storming

Gap Analysis

Employee surveys

Potential problem analysis

FMEA Analysis

Plan Do Check Act Cycle

Potential problem analysis to identify other problems or risk

Problem Analysis tools

Fishbone diagram

5 whys

Root cause analysis

Pareto principle and Pareto charts

Process flow charts

Problem Trees

None of the above concepts and methods is recommended for any particular problem; they all have certain benefits and may suit different situations. In most cases a combination of these will be used to solve a problem. These are the most basic of problem solving methods and tools, and it is recommended you become familiar with these if working in the fields mentioned above.

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