Plsek, Paul E. (1989, ASQC) Paul E. Plsek & Associates, Little Silver, NJ
Continuous improvement requires that we learn from past problems and prevent their recurrence in the future. Reliability engineering is a widely-practiced discipline in the quality sciences that relies heavily on past experience to assure continuous improvement from generation to generation in product hardware design.
In particular, the techniques of Failure Mode Effects Analysis (FMEA) are often used to catalogue the collective knowledge, experience, and "hunches" of the product design team to assure that their new design will "work right the first time" (or at least better than the last generation). Using an FMEA matrix, the design team looks at each product sub-assembly, lists potential failure modes, rank order these failure modes based on their likelihood and severity of occurrence, and then designs countermeasures to prevent the failures.
While used exclusively for hardware reliability engineering in the past, the structured thought process of FMEA is just as useful for assuring continuous improvement in the design of a next-generation service or business process. The result is a type of process reliability engineering.
In this paper, we will provide step-by-step guidelines for building and using an FMEA matrix for a service or business process. At each step, we show how the process FMEA matrix is directly analogous to the familiar hardware FMEA matrix. The paper concludes with an example of the application of the techniques to a complex process in a large telecommunications company.
Quality management (QM),Failure Mode and Effect Analysis (FMEA)