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A3 Report Checklist: Problem Solving Made Easier

What is an A3 Report? What are the 7 Elements of an A3 Audit? How is it structured? And how can a digital solution benefit your business? All these questions and more are answered in the article below. Keep reading to find out how Lumiform’s free app and templates can help you develop better problem-solving strategies!

See our ready-made templates:

A3 Report Template

Use a checklist for the A3 report to make it easier to gather the desired information, analyze the problem and plan the solution.

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8D Report Template

An 8D report template is used to document an understandable root-cause inspection based on the 8 Disciplines of Problem-Solving.

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5 Whys Template

Use this 5 Whys template to determine the root cause of a problem so that your business teams can prevent encountering them again.

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CAPA Report Template

Identify, address, and prevent the occurrence of regulatory and organizational non-conformance with this CAPA report template.

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Kaizen Report Template

Use this Kaizen report template to easily define the project, category and section/process and to perform other processes.

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FMEA Template

This FMEA template intends to recognize and document potential problems in FMEA.

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PPAP Checklist Template

This PPAP checklist contains questions for each of the 18 production part approval process guidelines.

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DMAIC Template

A DMAIC template helps Six Sigma users apply the DMAIC method as a root cause analysis for process improvement.

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What is an A3 Report?

Originally a part of the lean management philosophy of the Toyota Production System (TPS), A3 Reports are a one-page document used for information progress reporting and rational decision-making.

A3 Reports make reporting simple since they contain straightforward summaries of numerous detailed reports and analyses. To be more precise, they are usually compiled in graph, chart, or bullet point format as a visual representation of the gathered data. Therefore, they are often called “one-pagers”.

Fun fact: The name “A3” is derived from the metric paper size that the report is produced on (equivalent to a paper size of 11 inches x 17 inches).

This article briefly explains:

1. 7 elements of A3 report thinking

2. The PDCA cycle in the A3 report template

3. Structure of an A3 report form

4. Benefits of A3 problem-solving

5. Technology to support an A3 report

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Our tip:

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A3 thinking aims to develop a specific mindset towards problem-solving. It can be summarized in 7 elements:

  1. Logical Thinking – A3 is a step-based process.
  2. Straightforward and objective representation of information.
  3. Always sharing the 5 whys of how an end results was achieved.
  4. Giving only necessary information and using as many visuals as possible.
  5. All the actions must comply with the company’s strategy and objectives.
  6. The goal is to create a consistent perspective that can be adjusted across the whole company.
  7. Making the problem-solving process more structured.

What is the PDCA Cycle in an A3 Report Template?

Each A3 report uses the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle - a standard management method. The scientific approach behind it is aimed at this:

  • To define the desired results and the proposed solution to achieve this goal (plan)
  • Test the proposed solution and collected data for effectiveness (implementation)
  • Analyse the data obtained from the test and compare the results with the desired outcome (check)
  • Adapting the solution based on the data from the "Implementation" and "Check" phases until the objectives have been achieved (action)

How do I Structure an A3 Form?

A template for the A3 report is divided into seven analyses and work steps. These steps were designed to intervene when a problem arises or a new standard is introduced. First, the four analysis steps are started which refer to the planning phase of the PDCA cycle. The remaining three work steps reflect the Do, Check, and Act phases of the cycle.

1. Describe the Background and Problems

This step outlines the problem. It must be described in a way that all employees involved understand the problem and its effects. Besides, the description should show the relevance of the problem solution for achieving the company's goals.

2. Capture the Current Situation

In this section, the actual state is described vividly and in as much detail as possible. This can be supported by presenting facts clearly in tables and graphics. It is the hope that by doing this the problem’s origins can be identified and subsequent steps can be taken to analyze why the affected processes haven’t yet reached their target state.

3. Describe the Target State

The target state must be clearly defined. As a rule, it is more effective to start with the desired end result and work backward from there. It should then be clarified how the team is going to achieve this target state, which measurement methods they’ll be using to define success, and what key figure will be used as a benchmark for comparison?

4. Carry out Cause Analysis

Cause analysis aims to determine the factors that have a direct influence on the problem. Starting points for effective measures can be derived from the influencing factors. An Ishikawa diagram can be used to identify the root cause of the problem.

5. Propose of Countermeasures

This step lists all measures that contribute to achieving the target status. These include measures to eliminate the root causes and subsequently help move the actual state closer to its target state. The following questions should be answered: What is the respective (sub-)problem? How is the problem solved? Who is responsible? When will the measure be implemented? Where will it be carried out?

6. Check the Success of the Effect

Assessing the success of the A3 method shouldn’t be forgotten. Now would be a good time to check if the implemented measure has generated the planned result. If at any point a variable or measurement deviates from its projected state, it should be documented and dealt with immediately. Keep in mind, the success of the planned measures should be quantifiable, and a graphic companion will help with comprehensibility.

7. Standardization and Follow-Up

In the last step, the whole process is evaluated. What additional measures, if any, should be taken to secure your goal? Particularly, if a measure proves successful, you should incorporate it as a standard in your process of operations. In this way, your gained experience can be applied to other tasks and problems and benefit those in other company divisions.

What are Some of the Benefits of A3 Problem-Solving?

The advantages of an A3 model can be summarized in the following bullet points:

  • A3 reporting is a consistent reporting tool that promotes mentoring and team-building in general.
  • It encourages information sharing within the organization, thus, promoting learning and continuous improvement.
  • The A3 system stands for a commitment to common objectives which strengthens the levels of responsibility.
  • An A3 report is used not just for problem-solving but also for suggesting improvements, reporting, and coaching, etc.

Using an A3 report checklist to help solve a puzzle

How can I use Technology to Support an A3 Report Template?

The effectiveness of the A3 model depends strongly on the successful analysis and interpretation of the data. With a versatile app for data collection, analysis, and template creation like Lumiform, companies can take full advantage of an A3 problem sheet.

A template for the A3 report can be easily created via the app by tablet or smartphone - online or offline. The A3 report template is created via desktop software and is immediately available to all responsible employees. The data is collected with the respective mobile device on-site and then can be evaluated later on the desktop for easier viewing.

Lumiform guides employees through all documentation processes, thus, significantly reducing the risk of documentation errors. The digital solution for the A3 report offers many more advantages such as:

  • All audit results are automatically bundled into a report and can be sent to stakeholders.
  • Generate real-time data via internal processes. This makes quality and safety measurable while processes are continuously optimized based on the collected data.
  • Increase the efficiency of internal processes: Through more efficient communication within the team, third parties, and management, as well as faster reporting, problems are solved up to 4x faster than before.
  • All data is stored centrally and can be accessed at any time.
  • Comprehensive analyses help to uncover inefficient areas in your company more quickly and, thus, works to continuously improve the audit processes.

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