Operational Excellence

Many of our clients operating in the Life Science, Pharmaceutical, Medical Device and Manufacturing sectors are working towards making their organisations more Lean.

Companies are competing against others within their wider organisation for funding, and ultimately survival. The implementation of Operational Excellence programs and Continuous Improvement initiatives is fast becoming vital to ensure a competitive advantage is gained and maintained.

Following in the footsteps of Operation Excellence heavyweights such as Toyota, Structured Problem Solving is currently being adopted and implemented in many organisations across Ireland.

Structured Problem Solving: Definition and Approaches

Structured Problem Solving provides a systematic process to enable the identification of a problem through to a solution. Very often, within a production environment, it is difficult to identify the root cause of an issue. The application of Structured Problem Solving enables the identification of the root cause of a problem and issue within a specified time frame.

Many approaches can be taken from Six Sigma, DMAIC (Define- Measure- Analyse- Improve- Control) to A3 Structured Problem solving (Plan –Do- Check- Act).

These approaches are aligned with the Shingo Model guiding principles: by implementing tools that enable an organisation to become more Lean cultural changes will follow, leading to an ethos of Continuous Improvement within the organisation. Interaction with people is key to utilising these tools to their full effectiveness.

Issues Identified with the Current Approach to Structured Problem Solving

Over the past 12 months the Dataworks technical and innovation team have focused on the A3 approach to Structured Problem Solving and, through engagement within the industry, some issues with the current approach to the A3 Structured Problem Solving have come to light:

  • Data Integrity Issues: Users can add and delete data without any controls e.g. data that is stored in Excel, Word or other repositories.


  • Searchability: Inability to easily search previous completed problems to quickly determine if previous similar issues were tackled. Current methods of completing and storing Structured Problem Solving information makes it difficult to do this.


  • No central repository for documentation: Supporting documentation for each problem solved can be easily moved by users causing confusion and meaning it is difficult to locate at a later stage in the process.


  • Reporting/overview Structured Problem Solving progress: No way to easily view how all Structured Problem Solving projects are progressing. It is difficult to get an overview of what stage is currently at and for how long.


  • Empowering Users/Uniformity: Some staff members feel they lack the skills to approach Structured Problem solving and make it visually appealing. Often this means that the same staff members tend to lead the majority of Structured Problem solving projects.


Addressing the Issues: Application of Innovative Technology

We have applied technology to this widely used Lean tool to make it even more effective …dare we say it – even more Lean.

Using our Agile SDLC we have addressed the above issues currently encountered with Structured Problem Solving by developing a software application that achieves the following:

  • Guides the user through the steps of the process with tools at each step to assist in the capture of data in a uniform manner
  • Previous problems are searchable and reports show progress on currently open problems.
  • The output is an automatically generated graphical A3 overview of the 8 steps, similar to the output expected from the manual process
  • Enables all employees to produce A3 overviews to the same standard


In the process of addressing these issues we have endeavoured to enhance the interaction among the people involved in each project enabling engagement in a meaningful way.

If you would like further information on how our tools and solutions can improve your approach to Structured Problem solving within your organisation please contact us today on 051 878555 or email info@dataworks.ie

At Dataworks we apply technology to enable process improvements and operational excellence. The solutions we can offer are heavily aligned to contemporary Lean management, Six Sigma, and Shingo. We strive to develop innovative solutions that support and enhance our clients overall Lean and Continuous Improvement strategy.