Even the best-laid plans can sometimes go wrong. That’s why most people have multiple contingency plans to fall back on if things go awry.

For instance, you apply to five universities or send your job application to multiple companies for varied roles. You do this to be prepared for failures and assess their impact on your life.

Similarly, every organization runs multiple trials to identify problem areas for their services or products to ensure that they’re on top of things. Problem analysis is done to identify the cause behind an error or a failure in an organization.

In today’s dynamic world, a system to check for errors can help you withstand setbacks. The Failure Mode Effect Analysis  (FMEA) tool is a useful way to account for errors and their effects. It was first developed in the 1950s to keep a check on any malfunctions in the US military. Today, it’s used in risk analysis and effective management.

FMEA analysis can help organizations anticipate and prevent failures by keeping track of the design of their product or the process of developing a product or service. If you deal with customer goods or services, a failure mode effect analysis aids in determining potential failures and how they could affect the organization at large.

For instance, if you have an assembly line for children’s toys, FMEA analysis can help you look at each step in the process, determine what can go wrong and where, and understand how each potential failure will impact the final product.

Let’s look at FMEA in detail to understand the meaning of FMEA and the FMEA process.

What Is The FMEA Tool?

FMEA stands for Failure Mode and Effect Analysis. Failure modes determine ways in which something in the process of manufacturing or rendering services might fail. Effects analysis deals with studying the impact of these failures. The purpose of the FMEA process is to prevent, reduce and eliminate failures.

The process helps in improving the reliability of your product or service to better serve your customers and stakeholders. FMEA analysis is a useful tool and can help you understand potential errors or failures by gathering relevant quantitative or qualitative data to mitigate their effects.

What Is The Importance Of A FMEA Process?

Using an FMEA process can help you do the following:

  1. Prepare For Failures

FMEA analysis can help you prepare for failures that are inevitable. You’ll encounter multiple challenges during the life cycle of a product or service. If you’re prepared to tackle them with a working plan, it’ll reduce or minimize the impact on your organization. The failure mode and effect analysis process is useful for assessing risks and embracing change.

  1. Prioritize Failures For Optimal Results

The purpose of FMEA is prioritizing failures based on severity (S), occurrence (O) and detection (D). If you’re able to judge failures on based S-O-D, you can save time and resources by dealing with high-priority failures before addressing low-priority ones.

  1. Enrich Your Design Process

FMEA analysis can help you elevate your product or service design process if you implement it at the conceptual stage. Once you start assessing failures that might disrupt your assembly line or service process, you can deal with them systematically.

  1. Create A Sustained Competitive Advantage

The business world can change overnight. For instance, a new policy may disrupt your entire process. But with a sound failure mode effect analysis process in place, you can leverage your resources for sustained competitive advantage.

The Types Of FMEA

There are two types of FMEA—design and process. Here’s a detailed look at each of these types:

  1. Design: 

Design FMEA determines the possible problems with the product. For instance, it can help identify if a product has any potential hazards or if something in the process can cause it to malfunction. The design FMEA requires risk assessment in product development to mitigate the effects of failures. Design FMEA directly impacts the product’s life that can have substantial financial implications.

  1. Process:

Process FMEA is about assessing the likely setbacks while developing a product. This has a direct impact on product quality and may result in customer dissatisfaction. It’s important to take note of potential failures in the process because it directly impacts the user or customer of your product.

What Are The Steps In FMEA Analysis?

FMEA analysis is a lengthy process that can be simplified by breaking down bigger tasks into smaller and manageable sub-tasks. Here’s an overview of the steps in the process of failure mode effect analysis:

  • Evaluate the process in place by using FMEA as a visual tool with a flowchart depicting each component.

  • Understand the scope of FMEA and ask questions about the purpose of your product or service.

  • Review the potential failures associated with each component.

  • Assess the effects of each failure on sub-tasks and the overall process.

  • Calculate the Risk Priority Numbers (RPN = Severity x Occurrence x Detection) so you can analyze the seriousness of the effects, the frequency of failures and how easy or difficult it is to detect them early on.

  • Prioritize your failures before you take action based on higher to lower RPN.

  • Decide who’ll work on which failures. FMEA analysis is a team effort and requires the expertise of many people in the organization.

  • Revisit RPN with improved results to see whether any component requires additional work and if FMEA is successful.

When To Use The FMEA Tool

FMEA should be used at the beginning of a product’s or a process’s life cycle and during the entire life cycle. FMEA analysis is a continuous process that’s updated from time-to-time to account for all the changes that occur in the environment.

You should use FMEA when:

  • You design a process, service, or product.

  • You’re implementing a new way to design an existing product or service.

  • You’re thinking about improving quality control based on customer feedback.

  • You assess failures and their effects on existing services or products.

Creating Solutions With FMEA Methods

FMEA Analysis is one of the most important aspects of problem-solving. This is the step where you collect all the relevant information through quantitative and/or qualitative methods. Harappa’s Creating Solutions course will teach you how to pick the right information for sound problem analysis.

These steps will help you determine what kind of information you need to conduct the FMEA process. For your analysis, you might end up misinterpreting data or jumping to conclusions for quick results. But with a tool like FMEA, you can visualize your problems with the help of flow charts and prioritize problem areas that demand your attention. You have to spend time on problems that’ll impact your organization in the long run and discard the irrelevant ones.

Another way you can create solutions with FMEA is by making the right assumptions. Information gathered through qualitative methods isn’t always objective. This is when you have to exercise your judgment to reach a workable outcome. It’s important to make the right assumptions to fill in the gaps that exist in the data.

Suppose you’re dealing with a new product launch for men’s health, and instead of populating data based on current customer preferences, your team ends up taking the shortcut and picking numbers from existing data. You will soon realize that this was a mistake and you’ll have to redo everything from the start.

Process analysis with FMEA is easy and streamlined because you take the time to evaluate and review everything you’ve done in the past and are doing at present to prepare for the future. Using the data you’ve obtained with FMEA combined with your insight, you can arrive at relevant solutions.


FMEA is a helpful process analysis tool for mitigating failures and their effects on your business strategy. The management has to take charge and use the knowledge and expertise of every member of the organization to finalize a working plan for contingencies. Harappa Education’s Creating Solutions course will help you learn to analyze problems sustainably. You’ll learn to evaluate information effectively and accurately.

You can also communicate this data with relevant stakeholders by making it easy to understand. Once you determine the solutions to your problems, the next step is communicating it to the people in the organization. Think about your audience when you convey the solutions and corroborate your statements with evidence and data.

Each aspect of FMEA analysis determines how well you can prepare for setbacks. There will always be failures associated with a process, product, or service, but if you take stock of the situation beforehand, you’ll equip yourself with the right safety kit to avoid any irreversible impact or effect.

Setbacks and problems are inevitable at work. The trick is to know how to solve them smartly. Harappa Education’s Creating Solutions course will teach you how to get to the root cause of any problem by asking sharp questions and arming yourself with relevant information. It will equip you with useful tools such as the AQR Framework to gather relevant information for analyzing problems in your organization and the S-O-R Model to effectively communicate proposed solutions to stakeholders. Sign up now to stand out at work as the best problem-solver.

Explore our Harappa Diaries section to know more about the topic related to the Solve habit such as Importance of Decision Making & Ethical Decision Making in order to develop your problem solving skills.

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