SMS Tools


8 Disciplines to Problem Solving

The 8D approach, is a problem-solving approach coming from the automotive industry. It can identify, correct and eliminate the root causes of a problem in both the final product as well as the process itself. It can provide a short-term fix, but also a permanent solution to the issue identified.
The 8D approach requires 1+8 steps. First step is the planning phase of the identification process. Then the 8 steps are as follow:

  1. Team building – The team must include as a minimum a Leader (preferably a manager), an 8D expert (someone with Quality management knowledge), a subject matter expert (SME) and any supporting/ administrative personnel required
  2. Problem Definition and Description – by using the 5W and 2H (who, what, where, when, why, how, how many times) we can describe in detail the problem at hand
  3. Develop interim plan – The purpose of the interim plan is the containment or isolation of the problem by a fast solution. This is not the final solution, although it can be part of it
  4. Determine Root Causes – using the 5 Whys principle (asking 5 times why), one can reach the end and identify the root cause of the problem. Used along brainstorming and cause & effect analysis, it can be an effective method of identification.
  5. Permanent Action – By using the 5 How principle (asking 5 How), we can describe the solution and the implementation process of the fix. The finalised solution is proposed and communicated
  6. Implementation and validation – The solution must not only be implemented, but it must also be validated (review-checked) for confirmation of the results
  7. Preventing Measures – Set-in place measures to prevent reoccurrence of similar happenings in the future
  8. Recognition – Praise and congratulate the team for the work performed


  • Team oriented process – increases and promotes synergies
  • Disciplined and structured methodology – prevent early and rushed conclusions
  • Ability to identify systemic issues and improving the entire system – isolates, identifies and eliminates causes
  • Creation of database of issues and lessons learnt
  • Easy for management to understand
  • Used both as inductive and deductive tool


  • Not good for non-recurring problems
  • Not good for problem with known root causes
  • Long process requiring extensive use of resources (people and time)
  • Requires extensive training for proper application and use
  • Does not assist in decision making between alternative solutions