In the Google Community, The Next 7 Tools, I started a discussion on FMEA thinking it will be tool that will re-surface in popularity. It has been used quite extensively in manufacturing but I think it can be pushed into the fields of service and software. It will need some refinement more towards Innovation and Design Thinking Concepts.
FMEA: Failure Mode & Effects Analysis
Innovation, Lean Startup, Design Thinking and Disruptive Innovation are very much becoming ingrained as one of the ways we must conduct business. All of us claim to be Agile and Innovative. So it must be true, it is in every company’s mission and vision statement. Or, maybe we should call it their value proposition or their “Why”.
However, Risk Management is on everyone’s mind, even when managing your career path. When companies make choices they often take the path of least risk. I can relate this easily to HR Managers. Seldom do they hire the best person for the job, they normally hire the safest person. It goes back to that old saying that ‘No One Ever got fired for buying an IBM.”
When you view how decisions are being made, they are often involve committees or a better way of saying might be with many participants input. In this scenario, seldom will be risk be managed correctly. The safest choice even from the most innovative companies is likely to be chosen.
New technologies bring about new failures. Therefore the advancement of FMEA’s have to be as innovative as the innovations. Assessing risk then has to take on a multidisciplinary approach to address these challenges.
The traditional FMEA is a systematic approach that:
- Prioritize risks associated with specific causes of failures.
- Identifies the ways a process can fail to meet critical customer requirements.
- Evaluate strengths and weaknesses of existing practices to prevent identified failures.
- Evaluate strengths and weaknesses of existing practices managing identified failures.
- Identify ways of eliminating or reducing the specific failures
- Document a plan to prevent the failures
In simple terms, it allows you to anticipate problems so you can take steps to reduce the risks. It is just not about product. There are several types of FMEA to include, product, process, application and service.
What about a non-traditional FMEA approach that?
- Prioritize risks associated with scenario-based causes of failures.
- Identifies the ways a process will add complexity to a customer use.
- Evaluate competencies of existing practices to carry out likely scenarios.
- Evaluate competencies of existing practices to manage un-likely scenarios.
- Identify ways of adjusting to the different outcomes.
- Document a plan to deliver support to customer when un-likely scenarios occur.
Should FMEAs be restructured? Or, is there an alternative tool?