In 23 years, I have witnessed an undeniable truth: everyone is in a hurry. Human-beings have a knack for squeezing too much into one day. Why? It's simple, really – there just isn't enough time in one day. We utilize efficient routines (processes) trying to create time for life's necessities, such as spending time with family and friends, making time for work, etc. Additionally, unforeseen and disruptive events (failure modes) further prolong our daily routines, forcing us into having condensed and hectic schedules devoid of much breathing room. Sometimes, even the thought of scheduling time for ourselves can be as rigorous as juggling bowling balls while standing one-legged on a swivel chair.

A Process Engineer's job is to create better routines and more effective processes by reducing disruption and maximizing efficiency. By utilizing the proper tools, like Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA), to help accomplish this, a Process Engineer in essence provides the answer for helping alleviate condensed schedules. To apply FMEA to condense your morning schedule, follow the ensuing guidelines.

Understanding FMEA

FMEA is a problem solving tool that, after evolved in the 1940s and traditionally being a pillar in the manufacturing and production industries worldwide, has more recently become a staple in IT. It is used to prioritize potential defects based on their severity, occurrence and likelihood of detection. The idea behind FMEA is to highlight weaknesses in a process in order to determine a Risk Priority Number (RPN). A RPN is a generated number, based upon the FMEA formula, which indicates the failure mode seeking immediate attention. Follow these simple steps to evaluate a process in your life:

  1. Identify a specific process and a potential failure mode associated with it.
  2. Determine the severity of the failure mode if it were to occur. Rate this 1-10, with 10 being the highest severity.
  3. Determine the possibility of occurrence of the failure mode. Rate this 1-10, with 10 being the highest occurrence possibility.
  4. Determine the likelihood of detection of the failure mode. Rate this 1-10, with 10 being the lowest likelihood of detection.
  5. Calculate your process' RPN by multiplying the ratings from Steps 2, 3 and 4.

I have created a personal FMEA for my morning routine:

The process of waking up is great to analyze because we do it every day. However, this task is much easier said than done, and, if not accomplished in the appropriate time, can have a ripple effect on the rest of your day.This process' risk can be minimized by corrective action, such as setting multiple alarms on multiple devices. As a result, the control is more certain to detect the problem while simultaneously reducing the RPN. Decreasing the likelihood of unplanned, time-consuming events will create time for your more important daily activities.

For You: Determine what activities in your morning routine need to be evaluated, and enter these processes into an FMEA spreadsheet. The process that ranks highest in RPN will be the first routine you need to focus on fixing. As you can see from the table above, the waking up process has the highest RPN, indicating it needs immediate attention After fixing and reevaluating, its RPN should decrease. Continue attempting to fix the process with the highest rating.

The benefits of using the FMEA are immense, as its simple formula takes into account multiple factors to generate accurate results. For the specific use of evaluating disruptive events during a morning routine, it is imperative that participants evaluate each process and failure mode honestly to yield correct results. It is equally important to conduct this analysis continuously, especially when your external environment brings about changes that could directly affect you. In doing so, you may realize a failure mode to have a much more drastic effect on your day if it were to occur, and the repercussions it could entail.

Being able to understand and apply the FMEA is a great skill to have and is a powerful tool that shouldn't be limited to just business processes; you should see great gains from using the FMEA towards your morning schedule, as well! Once successful, try applying this to other aspects to your life. And if you enjoyed this blog, refer to our sister-blog The CapTech Way: Process Engineering Power Tools for more insight into simple techniques that can make a world of difference in cleaning up any process.