Smart or Sexy (CAR) - Poor Root Cause Analysis and Poor Effectiveness Check



Hi guys

I have a problem getting good answers from my suppliers or internally in case of a non conformity. I believe there are 2 main problems : poor root cause analysis, and poor effectiveness check.

So I was thinking of designing a template that would include Occurrence/Non-detection and 5M-5why and similar help to check effectiveness.But to make it fit on 1 or 2 pages, it looks quite heavy to fill in and I am afraid it won't be sexy enough to motivate people to fill it. (but anyway, they don't fill it today with a more simple, more "sexy" form.)

So, what is your advice ? smart or sexy ? or how to make the form "smart" with both meaning (beautiful and clever) to motivate people do the job.

Thanks for your help

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Hello Popeos! :bigwave:

As far as your either/ or, I would pick smart every time. :)

Having said that, of more concern here would (at least to me) be a less about the form and more about your root cause analysis (RCA) process.

If the RCA simply involves sending a form to your vendor, I'm not sure how effective it will be. In general, no one likes to admit they made a mistake. Here in litigious-prone America, I don't think an organization will ever admit fault:notme:. Consider the current situation of the Costa Concordia cruise ship, where the captain is currently changing his story, "I tripped and fell into the lifeboat", etc.

If a form is sent to your vendor, then make that one form. But internally I would have one form to record the entire process; and can easily fit on one page.

You have already figured the problem out:agree1::yes::

I believe there are 2 main problems : poor root cause analysis, and poor effectiveness check.
While a form may make the process a little better and smoother, I think your best improvement effort would come from re-evaluating the process.

Jen Kirley

Quality and Auditing Expert
What a wonderful question. :D Too bad I don't have an answer.

I say that because regardless of what form I have used, my own people continually struggle with effective root cause analysis. Why would I expect any different from a supplier, which is not even really required to follow my corrective action procedure? Besides, people are so different from each other. What works for some would completely befuddle others.

Your problem is a common one, I think, based on my knowledge of the same struggle my own Supplier QE has. I also think so because I recently interviewed for a Supplier QE position with a well established company, and the interviewers were not satisfied with my descriptions of how I would improve CAR responsiveness and performance. They apparently weren't satisfied with any of my competition either, as they have re-listed their advertisement at least twice since then.

So, what to do? (Besides commiserate, that is) Based on my not-so-great track record you can take it or leave it, but here's what I suggest:

1) Pick your battles

Since suppliers are outside the building, making "face time" is nearly impossible and the response cycle can be slowed down a great deal. Their motivation is different too. How severe is the problem? Does it make-or-break your ability to use the material or service? If so, press hard for good, timely, robust solutions.

2) Motivate them

As said already, these people aren't subject to the same consequences as your coworkers. My experience is that the best motivator may be retaining them as a supplier, or not. Hopefully you have choices!

3) Work together

Whether or not you can "fire" the supplier, the best result might be obtained through an active partnership with the supplier representative(s). Call, video conference or, if the problem is important enough, visit them. Go through the 5-y process together. Explore the Man-Material-Machine-Environment factors, use QA tools, determine possible impacts from your end as users, and work through plans together. Keep in close communications on progress, effects of changes they have made, and keep track of the cost benefits on both your part and theirs, including how the resolutions can help them with their other accounts. In fact, during the problem resolution process you should keep the robustness in mind because the changes they make are not valuable to them unless you are a big customer, or unless they can profit from the efforts with other customers as well.

If you do #3 you can ask the supplier what kind of form would work. Perhaps you would use a different form for them than others. Would that customization be a problem - isn't the end result what matters?

I hope this helps! Please keep my caveat in mind though, this is theory as I haven't used it myself. I welcome input from actual supplier QEs so they can affirm my suggestions or correct me.


Hi Brad, Hi Jennifer :bigwave:

Thanks for your first reply. I will keep in mind your ideas, but here are further elements to help you understand my point

For Brad : The form itself covers the whole problem solving process.
I want to keep in one single page (both sides, probably) to keep it easier. but it makes it dense. Hopefully I don't have the problem of admitting the fault : this step is OK, as CAR are issued only after agreement with the concerned party.

As regards, re-evaluating the process, I am considering some other points of it, but this won' t appear in the form itself

For Jennifer :
1) I can't pick my battles. Each and every round must be won.

2) For motivation, we have the carrot and the stick. Actually no, the stick only. :(
So the carrot may be the user-friendliness of the form, or the help it brings to the respondant.

3) About working together, I am thinking of some guidelines or on-line help system to help fill in the form. However, due to a lack of ressources and the way the system work, I will never be able to guarantee a true one to one.

Regarding motivation, how about solving a problem is not only for the customer but also for the "faultive" 's own sake ? :lmao:

I know, I am dreaming...

Further ideas welcome.


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Wes Bucey

Prophet of Profit
Despite comments from others to the contrary, I found that the "personal touch" works much better than carrot OR stick.

WHAT I DID: (this may not work for even a majority of folks, but it's worth a try)
I made a phone call to determine WHO (an individual by name) at the supplier "might" have ownership of the problem and its solution. I kept calling and interrogating until I was sure I had the right person. Then I tried to establish some sort of personal connection (even as tenuous as commiserating over the poor showing of our respective town's sports franchise.) After that, I went into my "How can WE help each other to keep the "enemy" off our backs and look good in the process?" pitch. I NEVER threatened loss of business, always focusing on solving the problem so WE looked like heroes. I would ask if passing on any tips or forms I had found "useful in other situations" might help - never forcing anything down the person's [supplier's] throat.

As I've written in another post about our relationships with customers, the strategy is to create a "partnership" where I [we] are most interested in solving a problem for our mutual benefit.

Added in edit:
It occurs to me to mention that the GOAL of root cause analysis is to find a solution to prevent recurrence. If there will be no future orders, don't waste time filling out forms. The completed "form" is not the goal - don't waste time trying to force everyone to use the same form, focus on the solution, even if it's just a verbal comment from the supplier - YOU can write a memo to document for YOUR records.
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Hello Wes

thanks for the comment.

I can see your point, but shouldn't the "faultive" be convinced that he has to solve his problem for his own good ?
(and not for the paper, for the business or anything external)

I'll try to go into / improve the one to one appriocha based on your comments, but it is also a hard job.
that's why I wanted the form as an help to it

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Supplier quality management is an art, especially for those that have a large supplier base and some suppliers are overseas. Things get worse when a small customer meets a big supplier. No cookier cutter kind of approach will work well.

Just on the form: An instructive, educative form will standardize the CAR process but still may not greatly improve the quality of the CAR, because some suppliers may simply do not have the resource/knowledge to fill the form to the customer's satisfaction. A seed will germinate under suitable conditions, but a piece of rock will never do.

The new form needs to make the supplier's life easier (especially since the current form is "simpler"). Multiple poorly filled forms do not look good in an audit, unless there is evidence of follow up and success. Avoid shooting self on the foot.

In general, fundamental improvement in supplier quality as a whole requires a lot more involvement from above and beyond SQE or CAR level.


Quite Involved in Discussions
Perhaps they are not motivated because its too sexy ;)

What could their motivation be, I think that you try to solve Your problem not their problems...?

I go with Jennifer and Wes, in direction of creating a relation (partnership/personal touch). Have you ever invited them for a site visit?

Also are you sure that you actually found the root???


Thanks for your ideas.

for Treesei, the new form is likely to be more complex to fill in, but the old one was almost empty, and got hollow answers. So the new one may not make the life easier but would be an help to those who really want to conduct root cause analysis.

For Mikael : Regarding the problem we want to solve, it is not my problem but usually a gap between audited practice and good practice, or lack of compliance, so "they"should be concerned.

Regarding the site visit, I will consider it, but it seems difficult, and apart from the "incentive" part of it, I dn't see what it would bring

Regarding the root cause of poor documentation, I have a few clues and I know the form won't solve all, but it should contribute.

Any alternate ideas ?

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