7 troubleshooting steps for your business
Having a tool for solving problems in a systematic way is key to not being afraid to face conflicts, errors or discrepancies and treat them immediately.
All companies have problems, surely yours is no exception.
No matter the size, whether it is a multinational or an SME, day-to-day floods us with doubts, and solving problems becomes an ordeal.
What can we do about it?
Einstein said “Do not worry about your problems, mind them.”
That is why the quality management specialists rightly proclaim that the first step to have a company with quality products and services, is to face the problems from the moment we identify them, and solve them at the root, ie reaching the cause original.
A widely used quality management methodology for solving problems is the 7-step method.
Let us think of an example. Suppose you have a business selling sushi and that sales of your business have gone down.
They had been growing steadily, and you hoped that with Valentine’s Day they would explode, but suddenly they stalled, and customers are ceasing to buy.
These 7 steps are also part of a PHVM continuous improvement cycle, also called Deming, which includes:
Plan, do, check and improve.
1.- Select the problem and describe the opportunity for improvement identified.
The problem can arise from analyzing indicators, results or simply from customer complaints or repeated defects.
It is advisable to form a team with people who are related to the sales process, including managers, operators, salesmen, etc.
In our example, the problem is that it was detected that sales fell this last month, when we expected to continue with the growing trend.
Apparently the most frequent complaint of the clients is that they take a lot of deliveries, especially on Saturdays and Sundays.
The purpose of the team then is to reduce delivery delays, especially on Saturdays and Sundays.
2.- Describe the current process with the data that is available.
In this step it is necessary to choose the process that is most impacted by this problem and describe it in detail, ie, what tasks are performed to be able to produce and deliver the sushi and how these tasks are organized (order, responsible, times, etc.).
By analyzing the whole process, one can discover that the problem is not only of the bikes that make the delivery, but also there are sectors that fail since the sushi order.
3.- Identify the potential causes of the problem and agree on which are considered root causes.
In this step it is key to consult all involved in the defined process, and identify among all the potential causes of the delay.
Together they can vote or decide by consensus that causes seem to be the most relevant, and dig deeper to find the root cause, that is, the crux of the matter.
It is always easier to blame “delivery guys”, but a more thorough analysis can show more varied and deep causes that give rise to the main problem, these are the root causes.
If you have data of defects, errors, times or complaints definitely can be a great help to define the root cusps more objectively.
The fish or cause and effect diagram is a very common tool used to organize causes: they may be due
- To the people (there is no team work, no training, those who deliver do not find the address),
- To the materials (lack of ingredients, lack of space or wastage of the same),
- To the equipment (they do not have the necessary kitchen elements, there is no production capacity for high demands) or
- To methods (you do not know how to handle the orders, there are no instructions, the preparation of the shipments is disorganized, the customer is not taken care of well, people do not know the methods).
Perhaps the conclusion is that the rapid growth of the company made it possible to devote time to training people, so many did not have enough, others gave up because they did not feel able to do the work and some They threw them because they did not know how to do the job.
4- Plan a solution: once the root causes are identified, the potential solutions are defined, the most viable considering cost / benefit and the business possibilities are chosen.
The solution should have an implementation plan that outlines what should be done, who should do it, and when.
It is convenient to put together a contingency plan in case everything does not happen as we planned, and finally it is key to monitor that the dates defined in the “when” are met.
The solution in our case then focuses on giving training to people immediately, and in a convenient way that does not affect production.
They plan to give training in the company while they are working to practice what is learned, other online, with videos and above all practice to fix content.
The solution not only can have dates and responsible, but also objectives, such as the number of people trained, number of hours of training, reduction of waivers by one percentage, reduction of complaints, etc.
Already have your problem identified? Get ready, put together the plan that will soon be implemented!
5) Implement the solution
In this step the most recommended is to implement or test the solution on a small scale, in some sector or “pilot” problem as to check if it turns out and be able to adjust in time what does not.
The solution is defined in the previous step through an implementation plan.
It would be convenient if that plan had dates and responsible for each task so that everyone knows what to do and when.
If our sushi company has several locations, we could start with a pilot sector, ie with a local only, to evaluate the results of the solution and make adjustments to it in case it does not turn out as planned.
For example, we may define training for employees, but the schedule is not convenient, adjusting for a single location is easier, then if it works it is easy to replicate it in others because the team has more confidence and experience.
6) Review and evaluate the result of the change implemented according to the plan
If the plan has expected dates and results (eg, number of people to be trained, hours of training, cost of completion, date of completion), I recommend making regular meetings or reviews of compliance with such “indicators” to assess whether we are or Not following the plan, and if this is resulting (for example, sales are increasing).
If, through a survey, we define that the main complaints of the customers were regarding the delay in deliveries, on all Saturdays and Sundays, we could review as we are doing the training, if this number is reversed, if the Complaints in general, or if new complaints arise.
In our case, we found that complaints came down for late deliveries, people who resigned dropped and sales increased by 30%, but customers began to complain that we had less variety of sushi than the competition.
Is that as part of the solution to improve the speed of preparation and facilitate training, we reduce the types of sushi.
What can we do now?
Go to the next step of the 7 step method …. Reflect
to get better
7) Reflect on the problem and make adjustments or improvements as necessary to the initial plan.
The last step is to take new actions based on the evaluation of the results obtained after the change, continue to propose improvements to the system and why not, celebrate or have improved with the team !!
If the customer asks for more variety, and we used to have it, we should try to change other processes of our company without altering the variety.
Perhaps we can make posters or instructions that facilitate the preparation of any type of sushi in the kitchen, or make promotions for the best-selling tastes to encourage the customer to always choose the same, even if still available the other less sold.
We can also analyze the delivery routes to reduce not only the order preparation time, but also the actual delivery time, and to be able to confirm the customer a more accurate time band.
In general, customers do not complain because they want to receive orders instantly, but just expect you to respect what you promised.
It is preferable to say that it will take an hour, and comply, that take 45 minutes but promise to ship in 20 minutes.
These changes should be analyzed with all the team involved so that they do not alter or worsen other indicators, and must be added to the implementation plan.
You should not worry about having to make adjustments, on the contrary it should be a normal and continuous process.
We should start the 7 step method again and continue to solve new problems. Are you ready? Successes !!
Contact us if you have any questions or want to implement this methodology in your company.