A3 Report – Knowledge Compendium

A3 Report is a quality tool that has been disseminated in Toyota production facilities. By presenting all the information in a simple and coherent structure, it has also been appreciated by other companies.

A3 Report – introduction

The above document is a simple communication tool that contains the necessary information for:

  • Make a decision regarding the approval of the presented proposal prepared by the implementation team
  • Decide on the actions that must be presented by the team for the problem solving
  • Providing information regarding  implementation status for individual goals

The name itself comes from the fact that the report limits the person who prepares it to one page. Thus, it forces you to “draw” a synthesis from the available information.

When to use A3 Report

The answer may seem very simple. Why? Because one page of the report will in most cases be a better way than a more extensive document.

Of course, there are fields of science where we cannot avoid the extensive form of the prepared document. Nevertheless, in a dynamic production environment, a one-page structure gains the advantage.

It is worth paying attention to the fact that although the data is presented on one page, we cannot afford their “low quality”. It is important that they are as effective as possible. Thanks to this, it will be possible for decision-makers to take appropriate action. We can achieve this by communicating the facts clearly and precisely. Thanks to this, we will be sure that people to whom it will be presented will not have a problem with understanding it.

Thus, we can conclude that the A3 Report is a great tool for clearly communicating the facts. Another advantage is a significant simplification or explanation of a more complex mechanism of problem formation.

As you develop A3 one-page reports, you will find over time that it develops your communication skills and improves your information flow. Why is this important information? Because in many situations that we deal with in production facility, it is these two factors that lead to disturbances and problems.

Advantages of A3 Report using

The basic advantages of using the A3 Report include:

  • A standard method of communication, provided by the structure of the document
  • It shortens the execution time in relation to making a decision
  • It is a tool supporting the process of mutual communication through the employees involvement
  • Forces a learning process to prevent errors
  • It teaches a constructive approach to the topic being solved
  • This document supports in making the right decisions
  • It supports teamwork because it is not a tool prepared by one person
  • One pager report allows you to define the goal and approach how to achieve it
  • It is a tool for eliminating losses. Thanks to this, it is widely used in processes improvement in accordance with the “lean manufacturing” philosophy

A3 Report and troubleshooting

The structure of this document allows you to easily recognize the situation based on the available information. A universal factor that complements the creation of this document is to be able to see the problem where it occurs. We need to mention also that preparation of the A3 Report “behind the desk” should not be practiced. Other aspects that are important for proper synergy between the A3 Report and our activities are:

  • Consideration of a single problem
  • Defining appropriate blocking actions (other names: interim, temporary or immediate)
  • Eliminate the root cause

A3 Report structure

When preparing to solve problems through the use of a one-page spreadsheet, we must answer the basic question: What is our goal? The next stages allow us to apply the appropriate methodology that will lead us to this goal. Belong to them:

Step 1: Define the type of information you want to use and the purpose

In this step, we answer the question of what is the purpose of the report and what conclusions do we need to communicate. We must also remember to answer the question: what conclusions should be drawn by the person who reads this document.

Step 2: Choose the type of A3 Report you need

This step is about the goal we want to address. We must remember that it is not only for solving problems. It can also be used to present proposals for improving quality, health and safety / ECO, energy consumption (so important nowadays) or improving efficiency. This document is also used as a document conveying this information.

Step 3: Gather the facts

Dr. Deming used to say that without data, we’re just another person expressing an opinion. While working in the automotive industry, I remember the phrase “let’s data speak”. Thus, you already know what the goal of stage 3 is. Prepare the appropriate information about the collected data and, if possible, analyze it.

Step 4: Check the collected data

Verify whether the report has a cause and effect sequence leading to the assumed conclusions.

A3 Report – tips on how to fill out the document correctly

Gathering the right information is only part of the job that needs to be done. How they are presented is also important. Below You will find the best practices that will improve the process of creating this type of document:

  • Be specific with the facts. Leave no room for understatement or interpretation. Do not assume that the person reading the A3 report will know what conclusions to draw. If the data provided is inconsistent or too vague, embarrassing misunderstandings can arise.
  • Use the style of language to suit your audience. Try to look at the topic from her/his perspective.
  • It is said that one picture is worth more than 1000 words. For this reason, try to use diagrams and/or drawings where you think they are needed. One more important note on this point. Do not repeat information in graphic form if it has already appeared directly in the text.
  • A3 Report can be handwritten. It can even be filled with a pencil. However, it is important to use an eraser or corrector in case of a mistake. Thanks to this, the aesthetics of the document will always be at the appropriate level.
  • Check if the report is legible and clear. If you are unable to give a clear answer, ask a team member for help. Another alternative is to have the documentation verified by someone who has not previously had the opportunity to verify such documentation. We then speak of a “fresh eye view”.
  • Finally, an additional note on vocabulary: avoid spelling errors. As with writing with a pencil, use a eraser if it occurs. If we do not ensure this, the person who will read it may get the impression that the document was prepared in a hurry. This, of course, translates into insufficient time for a proper analysis of a given issue.
  • Use bullet points. This is a great solution to shorten the length of the text that appears in the description. By using bullet points and using sentence equivalents, you are able to highlight key information in an A3 Report.

Quality tool for teams

If the A3 report is created in a team, remember to sign it by each team member. This activity is not just about the signature itself. This approach gives others the opportunity to discuss the report with You. If the issue is related to the work of each shift, be sure to discuss it with all of them. This situation occurs when we present a solution to eliminate a quality problem or improve work ergonomics at a given operating station.

Please remember also that this document doesn’t have to be beautiful. There is no need to prepare on the computer. The most important thing is that the person to whom it will be presented should not have any problems while reading it.

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