The Method of Analysis for Solving Problems (MASP) is a methodology for problem solution that involves performing corrective and preventive actions aimed at identifying and eliminating the causes of non-conformities.
The methodology, developed in Japan, seeks to avoid the repetition of problems by standardizing processes to ensure continuous improvement in the quality of a company’s processes and products.
What is the methodology used for?
With MASP methodology, you can prevent or correct failures in processes and operations. The method can be used to solve specific problems in your company, address non-conformities or guide the continuous improvement of processes to improve your results.
By applying the methodology, you can identify problems, investigate causes, propose action plans, monitor metrics and verify results, standardize procedures and generate conclusion reports.
How can I implement it?
The MASP methodology involves eight main steps for analyzing processes to identify problems and implement corrective and preventive actions to solve them. The steps are:
1. Identification of the problem
First of all, you have to understand your processes, procedures, routines and activities so you can more easily identify the problems that occur in your company’s routine.
In the first step of the methodology, you clearly identify the problem, effects or undesired results of the process. In this stage of the methodology, you prioritize problems and targets. This prioritization should be based on the history of data related to the problem, including the risks, losses, frequency of occurrence, location and teams involved. Thus, you identify the problem, carry out studies, assess opportunities for improvement and targets and define work teams and responsibilities.
It is very important to always identify and prioritize the most serious or urgent problems as these are the ones that most directly impact your results.
It is worth mentioning that there are tools that can complement the MASP methodology that are commonly used in the daily routines of organizations to solve problems. Thus, to help you identify and prioritize problems, you can use the following tools: Brainstorming, Check Sheets, Pareto Charts and GUT Matrices.
Remember that each problem should be addressed individually; that is, each one should be subjected individually to MASP methods.
After prioritizing the problem to be addressed by MASP, the next step involves observing the problem. In this step, you gather data on the problem. You should look at the problem from different angles under the same circumstance to gather data to answer these questions:
- How often does the problem occur?
- Are the results different in different locations?
- Do the results change from person to person or by team?
- When was the last time the process worked correctly?
Ideally, these observations are carried out by more than one professional who understands the problem so the team can get different points of view and more accurate data. This involves asking the team to make a list of all suspected causes of the problem.
There are tools that can help you make observations and collect data, such as the Check Sheets and Pareto Charts.
The third step in the MASP methodology seeks to identify the root causes of the problem.
However, before starting this step, we need to understand the term root cause.
After all, is it possible your problem has more than one root cause? The answer is yes, because in many circumstances, a number of factors can contribute to the cause a problem. However, many institutions incorrectly use the term “root cause” to define a single cause of a problem. However, focusing efforts on a single cause can limit your solutions, resulting in the elimination of other viable solutions that could contribute to solving your problem.
Following the application of the methodology, you can classify the hypotheses for the cause of the problem according to three types:
- Influencing causes:these are assumptions made without fully investigating the situation, such as brainstorming to discover what might have caused the problem to occur.
- Most probable causes:these are the most probable among the causes classified as influencing causes.
- Root causes: these are selected following an analysis and verification of the most probable causes.
In this way, the group of hypotheses raised in the previous step should be reduced by eliminating those evaluated to be less probable, leaving only the most likely causes. To help you in this analysis, you should involve anyone who has knowledge and who can contribute to the identification of the causes.
There are tools that can help you carry out the root cause analysis, such as Ishikawa Diagrams, Brainstorming, the 5 Whys, Histograms and Scatter Plots.
4. Action Plan
Once you have defined the root causes, you can determine a truly effective solution to prevent the problem from recurring with actions that eliminate the identified causes, rather than just addressing the effects of the problem.
The purpose of this step of the methodology is to elaborate an action plan with the solutions and targets to be achieved, as well as put into practice the strategy to be followed, in order to eliminate the causes of the problem. You should also establish indicators for monitoring to ensure that everything is progressing as planned.
The application of the 5W2H method can contribute to the effectiveness of the planning and execution of the action plan.
The fifth step of the MASP methodology involves the fulfillment and execution of the action plan. With the strategy developed in accordance with the previous steps, you should now involve the people who will execute the action plan. Clearly communicate the actions to the people involved and train them if necessary. To do this, hold meetings to present the activities and why the actions need to be carried out to ensure the alignment of the team executing the Action Plan.
6. Verification of results
Assessing whether the action plan worked as planned is as important as its execution, isn’t it? Thus, the sixth step of the MASP methodology involves verifying the effectiveness of the action plan by analyzing qualitative and quantitative data to determine whether the results achieved with the implemented actions are in accordance with expectations.
To do this, it is important to collect data before and after the execution of the action plan to determine if the action plan was effective and reduced undesirable results. This step should address the following questions:
- Is the problem being resolved?
- Did the changes and actions have positive or negative effects?
- Which actions in the action plan did not achieve the expected results?
If, after verifying the results, you determine that the implemented actions performed well and were effective, the adopted solution should be standardized. However, if the results are negative, you should determine what went wrong since the solution has flaws and it is necessary to reassess the action plan or the prioritized causes.
With positive results in the verification phase, the standardization step seeks to prevent the recurrence of the problem by standardizing the effective measures in a new system.
It is important to communicate this new standard to everyone, keeping information aligned. To this end, disseminate the new system to the areas that will be affected and ensure that new standards or changes to existing standards are shared with everyone involved. A method that can help you to standardize activities is the elaboration of Standard Operating Procedures.
It is important to monitor the actions and ongoing training of employees to ensure systematic and continuous improvement. Thus, you should implement a system of scheduled measurements for monitoring purposes.
We have reached the last stage of the MASP methodology. The eighth stage of the method is where you conduct a general assessment of everything that has been implemented and, if there are negative aspects, rethink strategies.
To this end, evaluate the entire process implemented to solve the problem so that the lessons learned can be shared in a final meeting where the people responsible and involved can discuss the results. Present the results that exceeded expectations and consider what is still pending, organizing these ones for a later application of MASP.
Finally, prepare a report with the results obtained, their evolution, lessons learned, errors and difficulties in the application. It is essential to document all the learning experiences throughout the process so you can use them in future actions. After all, everything that has been applied should be considered when planning new projects.
To learn more about problem solving and improving processes, you can read other articles that we have published on these topics here on the blog!