3 Things to Improve your FMEA Development Process

Most know that a robust FMEA can be a very powerful thing with positive impact on process performance and product quality. What they don't realize is that completing the FMEA effectively doesn't need to feel like a colossal waste of time and resources. If you've started a new FMEA project, pulled in everyone from a cross-functional team, spent weeks meeting to complete the FMEA, and still ended up with with a plan that underperforms when launched, then you're not alone. The good news is there are three things you can do (or rather, stop doing) to improve your FMEA development and make more efficient use of your team's time and resources while still achieving a higher performing result.

1. Stop thinking of your FMEA as an event.

First, it is critical that you stop thinking of FMEA development as an event. FMEA is not an event, but rather, a process. It doesn't need to be completed in a single day or in a week. Think of approaching the FMEA development process in stages; initiation, evolution, and maturity. It is better to spread your FMEA activities out instead of trying to complete it all at once. This way you can work through the process an hour at a time and maintain engagement from your team. Better yet, keep it standing room only, and conduct highly enagaging activities. Cal Newport said in his book Deep Work that a human's ability to do deep work lasts only about an hour and 15 minutes at most (Newport, 2016).  The longer the meeting gets, the faster the engagement drops. 

2. Stop involving everyone (at the same time).

It is true that the FMEA development process should follow a multidisciplinary approach and involve a cross-functional team. This still applies. However, there is no rule anywhere in the FMEA manual that says you need to get the entire cross-functional team involved all at the same time. Take a cue from Elon Musk over at Tesla where it is acceptable, and even encouraged, for team members to get up leave a meeting at any time if they are not contributing. And instead, try scheduling your multidisciplinary team to come in and engage in 15 minute increments. FMEA development does not mean large meetings.

3. Stop filling out the FMEA form in front of everyone.

The new AIAG & VDA FMEA methodology puts emphasis on utilizing tools in addition to filling out the form. This is because the intent of the FMEA is not to just fill out the form, but instead to gather multidisciplinary knowledge. There are a number of FMEA tools you can use with your team during development that are more engaging and relatively quick to complete while producing more indepth and effective results. Some examples of tools include:

  • Fishbone diagram
  • SIPOC diagram
  • In-Out Diagram
  • Dominant Process Structures

Use these tools with your team to gather the multidisciplinary knowledge first, and then you can move what you find into the FMEA form.

Continued FMEA Improvement

In summary, to start to improve your FMEA development process for more efficient and effective results you need to stop thinking of your FMEA as an event and instead as a process, stop involving everyone at one time, and stop filling out the form in front of everyone and utilize more engaging tools.

As a next step for FMEA development improvement you can explore seminars, training bootcamps and workshops below.