FMEA and FishBone Analysis

FMEA - Spotting problems before a solution is implemented
FishBone Analysis - Identifying the Likely Causes of Problems

Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA)

Spotting problems before a solution is implemented when things go badly wrong, it's easy to say with hindsight, "We should have known that would happen". And with a little foresight, perhaps, problems could have been avoided if only someone had asked "What Could Go Wrong?"

By looking at all the things that could possibly go wrong at design stage, you can cheaply solve problems that would otherwise take vast effort and expense to correct, if left until the solution has been deployed in the field. Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA) helps you do this.
More than this, FMEA provides a useful approach for reviewing existing processes or systems, so that problems with these can be identified and eliminated.

Understanding FMEA
FMEA grew out of systems engineering, and is a widely-used tool for quality control. It builds on tools like Risk Analysis and Cause and Effect Analysis to try to predict failures before they happen. Originally used in product development, it is also effective in improving the design of business processes and systems.

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Cause & Effect Diagrams

Identifying the Likely Causes of Problems
Related variants: Fish or Fishbone Diagrams, and Ishikawa Diagrams

Cause and Effect Diagrams help you to think through causes of a problem thoroughly. Their major benefit is that they push you to consider all possible causes of the problem, rather than just the ones that are most obvious.

The approach combines brainstorming with use of a type of concept map.
Cause and Effect Diagrams are also known as Fishbone Diagrams, because a completed diagram can look like the skeleton of a fish.


Risk Analysis & Risk Management

Evaluating and Managing the Risks You Face

Almost everything we do in today's business world involves a risk of some kind: customer habits change, new competitors appear, factors outside your control could delay your project. But formal risk analysis and risk management can help you to assess these risks and decide what actions to take to minimize disruptions to your plans. They will also help you to decide whether the strategies you could use to control risk are cost-effective.

How to use the tool:
Here we define risk as 'the perceived extent of possible loss'. Different people will have different views of the impact of a particular risk – what may be a small risk for one person may destroy the livelihood of someone else.
One way of putting figures to risk is to calculate a value for it as:

Risk = probability of event x cost of event

Doing this allows you to compare risks objectively. We use this approach formally in decision making with
Decision Trees.