How do you solve problems?

Problems of all sizes occur in every business. Problems that should ideally be solved straight away and not return. Within Saab a method called SPS, Systematic Problem Solving, has been used successfully to find the root causes and tackle them.

Systematic Problem Solving at Saab Aerostructures

Image: Bertil Boodh runs the weekly meetings at the SPS board.

The method consists of five stages: describing the problem, immediate action, root cause analysis, action plan and follow-up/evaluation. The step "Immediate action" is carried out in order to manage the acute effects of a problem. After that, a systematic process begins to tackle the root causes and to check that the solutions are holding up.

"Making a good description of the problem is harder than you think, but it simplifies the next step of making an accurate root cause analysis. The aim is to really get to the bottom of the problem and to find the right solution," says Bertil Boodh, quality manager for the Production department within Aerostructures.

Problems that are being tackled are visualized on a special SPS board, with cross-functional teams meeting weekly to report the status and actions, prioritize and secure resources, and verify that the problem has been permanently solved.

"Commitment and a demand from the management are required to successfully implement an effective solution. Our aim is to find solutions to problems rather than start dealing with a lot of new ones. As things stand, we are solving one large problem every week, which translates to about 45 problems solved in a single year," says Bertil Boodh.