Last month, we provided an overview of using CAPA to solve your organization’s most challenging problems. You’re about to invest a significant amount into the proposed solution, but you want to make sure it is going to be effective in solving your problem. Want to learn how?
In the Beginning
In order to be able to demonstrate that your solution was effective in solving your problem, you must ensure that the problem-solving process is set up right from the start. Beginning with the end in mind is not just one of the 7 Habits of Effective People, but a general practice for effective problem solving! Given that there are a lot of problems out there, a good problem statement ensures that the team is focused on solving the right problem. It also ensures that an objective verification of effectiveness can be established.
A good problem statement focuses on the issue and makes no assumptions about the root cause nor the solution. When crafting your problem statement, being by answering 4 W’s and an H:
- What is the issue?
- Where did it happen?
- When did it occur?
- Who identified it?
- How much was affected?
The answers to these questions can very often be stitched together into a somewhat concise yet information dense problem statement:
On (WHEN), (WHO) identified that (HOW MUCH) (WHAT) (WHERE).
Example: On March 17th, the quality inspector identified that 3 of 12 widgets failed functionality testing on the alpha production line.
While a good problem statement increases the probability of finding an effective solution, it is not guaranteed. Thus, it is wise to perform due diligence and try to establish the likelihood of success BEFORE implementing the final implementation. Techniques such as piloting or simulations can be used to evaluate the proposed solution. Once deemed to be promising, the fix can be fully implemented.
Post implementation, there are two primary verification activities that need to be performed: Verification of Completion and Verification of Effectiveness. Verification of completion is commonly performed by visual review / examination. Inspecting the physical implementation and review of any records or documentation of the implementation are common methods.
Verification of effectiveness tends to take a bit more effort. There are various methods that can be used to demonstrate effectiveness post implementation. As we opened up with this article, the verification of effectiveness strategy should align with the problem statement. In fact, the verification of effectiveness strategy should already be determined during the creation of the problem statement.
Methods for verification of effectiveness include:
- Statistical Sampling
Upon successful demonstration of effectiveness, the problem may be deemed as resolved. However, continued process monitoring is wise to ensure that the gains are sustained.