(1) A systematic/structured approach for determining the seriousness of potential failures and for identifying the sources of each potential failure.
(2) Method for systematically considering each component of a system by identifying, analyzing, and documenting the possible failure modes within a system and the effects of each failure on the system.
(3) A systematized group of activities to recognize and evaluate the potential failure of a product or process and its effects, identify actions that could eliminate or reduce the occurrence of the potential failure and document the process.
(4) Tool used to identify and rank potential possibilities of failure.
A failure modes and effects analysis (FMEA) is a procedure in product development and operations management for analysis of potential failure modes within a system for classification by the severity and likelihood of the failures. A successful FMEA activity helps a team to identify potential failure modes based on past experience with similar products or processes, enabling the team to design those failures out of the system with the minimum of effort and resource expenditure, thereby reducing development time and costs. It is widely used in manufacturing industries in various phases of the product life cycle and is now increasingly finding use in the service industry. Failure modes are any errors or defects in a process, design, or item, especially those that affect the customer, and can be potential or actual. Effects analysis refers to studying the consequences of those failures.