Mistake Proof

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    Hi All. I am currently working in a bank and we are trying to reduce the number of complains and send letters out to the customers asking for some missing information.
    I have done the measure and analyze phase but i am not sure how to define a “mistake proof” concept yet! I have asked my colleagues for example to record the dates of they write to the client, they write again if they have not had a reply and the date they receive a reply. some of the complains are about irrelevant questions or the client has already provided the information. Can someone help?
    Thank you


    Hi, thank you very much for your replies. I am trying to minimum the complains. So any letter which is going out to the customer incorrectly is a defect. On the other hand consistency in sending letters out (asking for missing information on our database from the client) is important. For example a letter must be sent out to the customer correctly in the first place and then if we have not heard anything back, another chaser letter should be sent out in 15 days after the first letter was issued. I have created the below simple form but i am not sure if this is considered as a mistake-proof action?

    Client name/number/reason to send the letter/Date of first letter/1st chaser/2nd chaser/comments



    Try search on “poka-yoke”, the Japanese concept that is loosely translated as “mistake proofing”. In summary, once you’ve identified a specific mistake (defect) you want to prevent and the specific activity where it could happen you should:
    1.) Change the process in way that makes it nearly impossible to make the mistake.
    2.) Include a control that will immediately detect the mistake if it is made nonetheless — And stop the process until the mistake and its cause are corrected. Empower people to stop the process.
    3.) Have an action plan triggered by detection of the mistake.

    You will do 1&2 during the Improve phase and include 2&3 in your Control plan.


    Trish G

    From what I can decipher from your post, it sounds like you have frontline bank employees taking applications or opening accounts and not getting all the required information at the point of customer contact. So the follow up letter is in itself a sign that a defect took place, no defect, no follow up letter required. Mistake proofing tactics would depend on how this information is being taken in the first place. Is it a paper application? Then highlighting in yellow the most often missing information (based on your analysis) will help to mitigate. Is the application electronic? Then add hard edits in the required fields. If they have provided info in the past, the system should be able to populate these fields. The idea would be to not have to send out any follow up information requests.


    Thank you very much. I think I have now a clue what to do. Merry Christmas and have a great new year.
    @Trish, @Straydog, @poetengineer, @cseider, @Steve


    Nelson Mason

    Walk the process through from start to finish. Once you have done so, you will quickly identify where the defect(s) is/are. Take a sample of several (if you have them) employees conducting the same process. See if they are all making the same errors. Then you can start looking at changing the process.

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