A3 Report - Problem Solving Approach

What is A3? or What is A3 Report?

A3 is structural problem solving report, used to managing information for problem solving process, especially useful for systemic problems.

Generally, A3 is metric nomenclature for a European standard paper size, which is equivalent to 11 x 17 Inch. A3 is systematic, documented methodology. The report is used as an improvement process that effectively perform in problem solving process. In this report, you can organize the information of any complicated issues to more simply and clarify, and same it will provide a transparent and concise method of reporting information. one more think personally I would like to refer, this method of operation is visible and accessible to all hence it will positive impact on continuous improvement and related personnel which creates efficient working environment.

When use to A3 report | A3 Thinking Methodology

A3 can be used with complex issues and wide range of applications, but it is effectively works when a team needs a concise approach to problem solving. Structural documentation system, as well as want to reducing instances of mixed issues in regular processes. Generally, you can use the A3 in regular and strategic problem such as "why did the machine fail?" or "Why did sales drop?" etc., mostly such kind of issues or questions represent the thought process behind the reactions from responsible personnel, and help you to concentrate on "why" this problem occur. The whole A3 thinking methodology focus on improvement and learning instead of blaming on "Who did it" individually.

A3 Report

The A3 Report helps to investigate in depth problem solving, and its drives problem solvers to address the root causes of problems which surface in routine works. Hence this process can be used for almost any situation and I personally experienced that the changes of success improve dramatically. Ok, so you need to complete some processes, their subsections are described as below:
  1. Circumstantial Ground condition
  2. Describe problem statement & understand current condition
  3. Define Improvement objectives - Goal & Targets
  4. Root cause Analysis
  5. Prioritize solutions & Selection for implementation
  6. Implement Plan
  7. Verify effectiveness and follow up

  1. Circumstantial Ground condition

  2. It should be clear that every issues or problem we are getting solve must be properly defined, clear understanding for problem we are going to solve and stately mentioned the title as well as we must clear that why is this issue important to solve now, and what benefits do we anticipate from solving the problem. In this section, analyst must describe the whole ground condition raised due to circumstance at effected area. Because background information that is essential to understanding the extent and importance of the problem.

    Basically, team identify the problem or organize the information to define proper heading of the A3 report, where includes some important points such as GAP, non-conformance with standards, reflect the customer's point of view, and Gemba details (Why, Who, What, when, Where, How and How much / Many).

  3. Describe problem statement & understand current condition

  4. This phase is most important part in the A3 Report, here analyst can draw a diagram that show how the system that produced the problem currently works as well as symptoms and identified issues can highlight on the diagram. The information about results of non-conformance which are measurable such as percentage of defects, numbers of defects, production downtime can display by graphically or numerically in the current condition. We have to know what information we need filter from collected data from effected area, some basic questions and related points can expose the current conditions are:

  5. Define Improvement objectives - Goal & Targets

  6. To improve the current condition or problem, need to define improvement objectives, and be sure to state the desired characteristics of the improved or future state. Describe attributes of the target state it should be quantitative & qualitative. Here in this phase, you have to specify outcome required for your business, hence you need to care about specific changes, and you have to clear about measurements of success. You must clearly indicate points out for below:

    There are major three things in this section are raise after the A3 thinking are: clear goal / target, focus on specific accomplishment, and goal measurement.

  7. Root cause Analysis

  8. In previous article, I described enough information about, root cause analysis and "5 Why method", which is effectively works in A3 Report / A3 Thinking Methodology, hence we will discuss here in brief for point sequence in behalf. If the root cause is not obvious, use a root cause analysis tool such as cause and effect diagram, Check sheet, Process Flow chart etc. down to the root causes.

    Once you have better understanding the deep and meaningful way of how the process currently works, so now time for find out root causes are to the issues. To complete the root cause analysis task, first prepare list of the major problems, and use 5 Whys methodology here to reach the root cause. You can verify the direction of the root cause and for further improvement, some basic questions that helps in this regards:

    On completion of identification of root cause, all the data, results and final outcomes must be verified and checked with scientific method, to ensure that the identified cause is only responsible for symptoms which are appeared in process.

  9. Prioritize solutions & Selection for implementation

  10. Once the root causes are identified, and its appropriate solutions are defined and planned, first of all you need to prioritize solutions in order to seriousness of problems and impacts on processes. You can use a Prioritization Matrix to determine which of the potential solution(s) are most probable to best resolve the root causes of the problem, and will meet the objectives of the plan. When you determine which solutions are best for identified root causes to effectively works and eliminate issues as well reoccurrence, you have select those actions / solutions which implementation can resolve the issue permanently.

  11. Implement Plan

  12. In this phase, you have to list out the processes to be accomplished including duties and responsibilities, time management for each task, and actions respect to sequence of planning. In order to reach the target, you need a well-defined and implementable / workable implementation plan. In the implementation plan you have to includes details such as list of actions that need to be done to get the countermeasures in place and realize the target condition, what tasks / actions needed, who will perform this task / responsible person, when should the actions be completed, what resources are required for each task etc. The implementation plan drafts the phases that required to be accomplished in order to realize the target condition. Analyst manage the records the steps, when they required to be complete the task and who will have done.

  13. Verify effectiveness and follow up

  14. When you done all the actions required to appropriate issues, now you think what will be the next step to ensure that all the actions are properly implemented and effectively work in system. Hence, you must have question such as:

Analyst must verify whether they correctly understood the existing condition well enough to improve it. Therefore, the team must establish effective follow up plan, and verification method deploy in process improvement to make sure the implementation plan was properly executed. Analyst must measure the improvement of the system or outcomes from deployed system by specific test and the details and planning must be indicated in verification plan. Further, also needs to verify the how new system will perform.

A3 Report & Results

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On completion of A3 report, and on follow up state you can prepare the A3 report outcomes for further analysis for system improvement. As well you can attach the results details and ensure which helps to future planning and determine to implement appropriate plans in order. Actually, A3 report is methodical and scientifically implement process because each actions are taken on base observation, research, evidence, reviews and analysis of current condition.

Conclusion:

The A3 Problem Solving report, is a potentially useful method for continuous improvement as well as quick and effective process that easier for team to implement it. A3 report having a major seven phase or sections that guide that what will be next step you have to conduct and what really you need to do, hence its making your direction perfect which through you can identify real cause of problem, and eliminate as well as you can isolate at other places having similar symptoms.


First Published On Date: Sunday, October 01, 2017 10:10 AM

Author: ARUN RAVAL | Business & Systems Analyst