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Problem Solving With Six Sigma Root Cause Analysis

Apr 17, 2008
This is applicable all the more so for businesses that just cannot afford to keep solving the same types of problems over and over again and deriving satisfaction from such dubious achievements. So what is the right approach to problem solving? Well, for that you just need to have a look at the time-tested Six Sigma root cause analysis tool that stresses locating and eliminating the root causes of the problem rather than finding quick-fix solutions.

In effect, it basically helps businesses to find long-lasting solutions for all types of problems that occur repeatedly when left unchecked in their natural state. For better understanding, let us discuss how exactly does the Six Sigma root cause analysis tool helps businesses to find the most appropriate solutions.

Defining and Measuring the Problem

The first step in the root cause analysis process deals with the identification and measurement of the problem. In this step, all the various aspects are considered such as when exactly does the problem occur, where exactly it occurs, what damage potential does it have, why exactly does the business needs to solve the problem and how will the business benefit by solving the problem.

All this is usually done by comparing the VOC (Voice of the Customer) that represents customer expectations and the VOP (Voice of the Process) that represents what customers are currently receiving. Using this approach helps businesses to devise effective solutions that are in line with customer needs and requirements.

Finding the Root Causes and Devising Effective Solutions

After identifying the problem, the next step deals with finding the root causes and also understanding their relationship with each other. This is usually done by collecting sample data related to the problem and consequently using the root cause analysis tool for finding the main factors responsible for the defined problem.

This step also deals with finding the most appropriate solutions that not only solve the given problem, but also ensure that the problem does not reoccur in the near future. Usually multiple solutions are suggested and put through advanced simulation tests to check their applicability.

From among these, the solution that best fits the bill is selected for final implementation.

Implementing and Controlling

A business may have zeroed in on the most appropriate solution, but its responsibilities do not end there. It's because the business still needs to implement the solution and put in place control systems that will help in verifying the success or failure of the implemented solution.

It is only when the implemented solution passes the control tests can the business claim success for its problem solving initiatives.

Problems are inherent to business processes, and no tool or technique can ever claim to eliminate the occurrence of new problems. Six Sigma root cause analysis is preferred because it at least ensures that existing problems do not reoccur and are resolved in the most appropriate manner.
About the Author
Tony Jacowski is a quality analyst for The MBA Journal. Aveta Solution's Six Sigma Online offers online six sigma training and certification classes for lean six sigma, black belts, green belts, and yellow belts.
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