What Is 8D Problem Solving? (Process, Benefits, and Example)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published May 29, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Modern problems are becoming more challenging to solve as machines and systems become more complex. Employing an 8D problem-solving approach can help you break problems down into manageable and solvable components in many industries, including automotive, healthcare, and finance. By understanding the 8D approach, you can use the concepts and steps provided to solve complex problems across a wide range of areas and disciplines. In this article, we explore what 8D problem solving is, share its methods, examine a few examples, and review the benefits it offers.

What is 8D problem solving?

8D problem solving is a model that seeks to identify the root cause of a problem or issue by using statistical analysis. This method uses eight steps to plan, define, develop, determine, implement, and solve a problem. The steps to the 8D approach are:

D0: Plan

The process begins by formulating an outline of a plan. The lead person in charge of the project usually attempts to determine any prerequisites for successfully completing the project. Once you've created a plan, the next step of the process begins.

D1: Establish a team

Once a plan is ready to execute, the project lead often establishes a team of people with diverse skill sets that match the needs of the project. They choose team members based on specific knowledge about products, processes, or systems relevant to the project. Once the team is in place, the next step can begin.

D2: Define and describe the problem

Once the team is ready, the problem is ready to undergo analysis. The project leader and the team usually begin by answering the five Ws:

  • What?

  • Where?

  • When?

  • Who?

  • Why?

They also answer the two H's, which are "how?" and "how many?" These basic questions allow the team to quantify the problem in more specific terms and provide them with the basic information they need to solve the problem.

D3: Develop interim containment plan and actions

Now that the team understands the type of problem and the details of the problem, a containment plan is ready to be put into place. The purpose of a containment plan is to shield any relevant parties from the harmful effects of the problem. This can be customers, colleagues, or the public. This can include a number of measures, including recall, public statements, or emergency meetings.

D4: Determine root causes

Once they contain the immediate risk to the relevant parties, the team can now begin investigating the root causes of the problem. The team also identifies why the problem and the causes of the problem did not arise when they took place. They prove the root cause with verifiable evidence to ensure the problem does not occur again and to inform other team members and employees what was causing the issue.

D5: Assign permanent corrections

After the root causes of the problem are clear, the team then begins working on a permanent solution to correct the problem. This step may involve colleagues beyond the immediate 8D problem-solving team. Upper management often tests permanent measures to correct a problem before they become a normal operating procedure.

D6: Implement permanent corrections

Once everyone agrees the permanent solution is the correct one, the next step is to implement it and integrate it into the normal operating procedure. This can involve anything from changes in the structure of the company to recalibrating a systems process. Remember that this solution is meant to be permanent, so it's important to have everyone on the team agree that it's the correct solution.

D7: Take proactive measures to ensure the prevention of future problems

At this stage, the team may begin to explore ways to prevent a similar event or problem from happening in the future. They might examine current operational systems, workplace practices, and general procedures to look for other potential hazards or problems that might occur in the future. The team that completes the project does this and incorporates other relevant employees and upper management.

D8: Congratulate the team

This is the time to recognize the team for their hard work. This might seem like a relatively unimportant step, but recognition is an important piece of keeping morale high. Receiving appreciation from your management and colleagues helps to encourage future good work.

Related: How to Become a Certified Quality Engineer (With Steps)

What does the process look like?

Here are a couple of examples of the 8D problem-solving process in action:

Example 1

A company has a problem with the strength of its hairspray. They found that 2% of their last shipment received complaints from customers from across the country. An analysis was completed after the department lead asked for a full 8D report.

D1: Names of team members, team leader and manager.

D2: The problem reported by the customer is found below by answering these questions:

  • What is the problem?
    The hairspray is not as strong as it is advertised to be

  • Who reported it?
    Customers from across the country

  • When did it occur?
    Complaints began with the last shipment

  • Why did it happen?
    The formula was not being mixed properly at the third stage of processing

  • How much production is affected?
    2% of the product is affected

D3: The mixing solution is pulled from the line to undergo testing.

D4: The root cause of the problem is answered through the following questions:

  • Why is there a mixing solution error?

  • Why are these mixing problems occurring?

  • Why is the mixing solution ratio incorrect?

These questions reveal that a piece of machinery was not calibrated properly, resulting in the wrong amount of an ingredient being added to the mixture.

D5: A permanent corrective solution is recommended by the lead engineer in the department. He ordered the machine responsible for the malfunction to be inspected by the manufacturer for defects.

D6: A permanent corrective solution is implemented. 100 cans of hairspray are taken away to a lab to be tested. The process receives a few dry runs to ensure that the fixed piece of machinery is operating correctly.

D7: Preventive measures are advised to ensure the malfunction doesn't occur again. New cleaning and maintenance protocols are implemented.

D8: The team is congratulated by the manager. The team are offered tickets to a local basketball game for their efforts.

Related: How to Become a Product Design Engineer (With Average Salary)

Example 2

A company has an issue with its drumsticks warping. They found that 4% of their last shipment received complaints from customers from across North America. An analysis was completed after the drumstick department head asked for a full 8D report.

D1: Names of team members, team leader and manager.

D2: The problem reported by the customer is found below by answering these questions:

  • What is the problem?
    Drumsticks are leaving the factory slightly warped. This allows them to warp even further during adverse weather conditions

  • Who reported it?
    Customers from across North America

  • When did it occur?
    Complaints began with the last shipment, however, the problem might extend to before that

  • Why did it happen?
    The industrial lathe that shapes the drumsticks was not calibrated properly

  • How much production is affected?
    4% of the product is affected

D3: The lathe is decommissioned while specialists recalibrate it and run tests to determine how it became uncalibrated in the first place.

D4: The root cause of the problem is answered through the following questions:

  • Why is there a calibration error?

  • Why are these calibration problems occurring?

  • Why is the calibration ratio incorrect?

These questions reveal that a part of the machine invisible to the naked eye had begun rusting years ago. It was not maintained properly and eventually rusted away.

D5: A permanent corrective solution is recommended by the lead engineer in the department. He ordered the machine responsible for the miscalibration be inspected by the manufacturer for defects.

D6: A permanent corrective solution is implemented. The rusted part of the lathe is replaced by a new one, complete with new cleaning and maintenance procedures.

D7: Preventive measures are advised to ensure the malfunction doesn't occur again. New cleaning and maintenance protocols are implemented.

D8: The team is congratulated by the manager. The team is taken out to a restaurant by the department head for a job well done.

Related: 8 Engineering Specializations (With Salaries and Duties)

Benefits of 8D problem solving

Here are some of the benefits of 8D problem solving:

  • Creates permanent solutions by identifying and eliminating the root cause

  • Constantly improves systems of processing and manufacturing

  • Builds trust with customers for proactively seeking solutions to problems

  • Standardizes processes to quickly and efficiently solve challenging problems


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