IV.A.3 Process improvement tools

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Excerpt From The Certified Manager of Quality/Organizational Excellence Handbook

Root Cause Analysis - Although an effort to solve a problem may utilize many of the tools, involve the appropriate people, and result in changes to the process, if the order in which the problem-solving actions occur isn’t logically organized and methodical, much of the effort is likely to be wasted. In order to ensure that efforts are properly guided, many organizations create or adopt one or more models—a series of steps to be followed—for all such projects.

PDCA/PDSA Cycle - The problem-solving model presented above is actually nothing more than a more detailed version of a general process improvement model originally developed by Walter Shewhart, the plan–do–check–act (PDCA) cycle, which was adapted by W. Edwards Deming as the plan–do–study–act (PDSA) cycle, emphasizing the importance of learning from improvement. In both cases action is initiated by developing a plan for improvement, followed by putting the plan into action.

SIPOC Analysis - Problem-solving efforts are often focused on remedying a situation that has developed in which a process is not operating at its normal level. Much of continual improvement, however, involves improving a process that may be performing as expected, but where a higher level of performance is desired. A fundamental step to improving a process is to understand how it functions from a process management perspective. This can be seen through an analysis of the process to identify the supplier–input–process–output–customer (SIPOC) linkages.

Six Sigma and the DMAIC Model - In process improvement language, sigma is a term indicating to what extent a process varies from perfection. The quantity of units processed divided into the number of defects actually occurring, multiplied by one million, results in defects per million. Six Sigma Methods are too numerous to explain in this description. See ASQ Six Sigma Forum

Failure Mode and Effects Analysis - Failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA) has been in use for many years and is used extensively in the automotive industry. FMEA is used for analyzing designs or processes for potential failure. Its aim is to identify and reduce risk of failure. There are two types in general use: the design FMEA (DFMEA) for analyzing potential design failures, and the process FMEA (PFMEA) for analyzing potential process failures.

Six Sigma Forum

Quality Management BOK Reference

IV Quality Management Tools 
IV.A Problem-Solving Tools 
IV.A.3 Process improvement tools - Select, interpret and apply tools such as root cause analysis, PDCA, six sigma DMAIC (define, measure, analyze, improve, control), and failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA).​ 

Additional Resources
Back to the Quality Management Tools CMC
Back to the Quality Management Body of Knowledge


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Jerry Rice
Jerry Rice
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Date Added: Sep 12, 2018
Date Last Modified: Feb 5, 2019
Category: Resources