Case History

Business Process FMEA from a Reliability Perspective.

The assessment of the degree of reliability of business processes and the impact on business productivity and profitability.
production process certification, FMEA risk certification, quality certification

Business Context

Company, +250M€ turnover, about 700 employees

In this case history

The company

The company is an Italian aerospace excellence with a turnover of more than 250 million euros and more than 700 employees, a large part of whom are design engineers. The search for new markets has led it to specialize in anti-drone systems, target detection, electronic warfare, and everything related to cutting-edge electronic military defense systems, moving over time from a subcontractor position to a prime contractor one, with an increase in responsibilities and obligations.


The challenge

The field in which the company operates requires strict certification, in multiple areas and procedures to the point of ensuring the very reliability of the processes. Certifications, especially ISOs, therefore also needed to be analyzed from a risk perspective. To be able to do this, a system had to be built that could evaluate the processes that affect the company as a whole even before those of safety or manufacturing: abusiness process analysis (business process analysis) was needed.
The company also asked to see if a system to control the reliability of the company's internal processes was able to affect KPIs related to productivity and efficiency.


The solution

business process analysis_solution

Business process analysis is poorly codified because each company has a particular organization that is difficult to force into preset models; it needs to be studied and custom-built. To derive it, we combined two tools:

  • FMEA Failure Mode and Effects Analysis
  • DMAIC Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve, Control.

The FMEA process analysis and review technique is typical in design and manufacturing and is aimed at identifying potential risks and failures in a product. It is a very practical, technical methodology that has been coupled with an improvement methodology, DMAIC.

DMAIC is a problem solving tool that we have used to improve, optimize and stabilize organizational processes.

Finally, we identified and proposed specific evaluation parameters to be able to quantify in percentage points the degree of reliability of each individual process implemented by the company.


The operational phase


An analytics system that provides accurate current and predictive data enables truly strategic decision making."


business process analysis operational phase


The first step was to identify and collect the most important processes for the company, those that are strategic to its competitiveness.

So teams were created to work on the identified processes and specific training was given to those in them so that they all had the same vocabulary and working tools. In fact, the FMEA and DMAIC methodologies were familiar to some technical figures, while to others they were new: without a common basis it is difficult to arrive at a satisfactory result.

The analysis according to FMEA makes it possible to derive certain values, the RPNs (Risk Priority Numbers) that indicate the priority of risks for each process and process step. This makes it possible to identify which actions are most urgent, where action is needed to lower the probability of risk.
By converting the object of the analysis from design processes to business processes, the meaning of the Risk Priority Number also changed: its reciprocal now always indicated the priority of risk but viewed as reliability (or lack of reliability) of the processes of the business system. This allowed us to combine process reliabilities to find an indicator of business process reliability.

You cannot manage what you cannot measure."
Kaplan R.S. and Norton D.P. 1996


The next step was to see if there was a relationship between increased reliability and corporate indicators (KPIs) of productivity and turnover such as, for example, EBITDA (Earnig Before Interests, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization) one of the most widely used indicators of profitability.

To analyze this correlation, a business intelligence tool was used to correlate two different analyses and their results:

  • business process analysis (business process FMEA)
  • the Balanced Scorecard (BSC) management analysis

BSC is a planning and control model that allows strategy to be translated into a consistent set of performance indicators to facilitate measurability.


The results

business process analysis results

Consulting activities led to:

  • 7 teams established and trained in FMEA and DMAIC methodologies
  • 10 processes analyzed using the above methodologies
  • 400 risks detected on which to act quickly

The methodology of analysis introduced led to the:

  • +16% overall reliability of the enterprise system.

When a process is reliable, it means that we can predict outcome with certainty, and because of this certainty we can build a strategy, e.g., market strategy, based on a sound and effective business system.
The analysis also found that an increase in process reliability was associated with an improvement in the values of KPIs that measure productivity and profitability.


Collaboration with the company currently continues to incorporate the use of the design & process FMEA analysis system into the various phases of the risk control cycle of new product design and development programs, integrating it with the management system already developed, to achieve operational excellence.


In a fiercely competitive market, having reliable processes upon which business choices and strategies can be built is a critical success factor."


Paolo Sanguanini - Partner ŌdeXa


By Paolo Sanguanini

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