What is FMEA? PMP Topics You Should Know

FMEA stands for Failure Mode and Effect Analysis. It may be a new term, but the idea behind it is probably nothing new for you. It’s similar to a Qualitative Risk Analysis or Failure Modes Effects and Criticality Analysis (FMECA). When preparing for FMEA PMP exam questions, here are some things to consider:


Developed in the 1950s, FMEA was originally used for military applications. They wanted to analyze possible causes for failure. Besides military applications, times to use FMEA include:

  • After identifying problems or errors
  • When developing new products or processes
  • Before implementing changes to products or processes
  • When sales support increases significantly
  • After receiving numerous customer complaints
  • When company credibility is at risk
  • Benefits

    There are lots of benefits to completing an FMEA. Some of the benefits include:

  • Creation of reliable products
  • Increased brand recognition
  • Decreased sales support
  • Boosted customer satisfaction
  • Maximized profits
  • To complete a Failure Mode and Effect Analysis, here are the general steps that one would follow:

    1.Identify Failure Modes

    Start by gathering experts to help brainstorm all possible failure modes, or risks. List each possible risk. Then, discuss the impact, ease of detection, etc.

    2.Determine Priority

    Use Pareto Analysis to determine which risks are most likely to occur. Also, determine which risks are most likely to cause the most problems if they occur.

    Do this by assigning a Risk Priority Number (RPN). This is done by rating the level of severity, occurrence, and detection of each risk.

    Severity= the level of seriousness of defect
    Occurrence= how often the problem will happen
    Detection= how easy it is to find the problem

    For each of these categories, assign a score between 1 and 10, with 1 meaning it’s not very likely and 10 meaning it’s highly likely. Then, multiple the three scores together.

    Severity x occurrence x detection = RPN

    Based on the RPN, determine if each risk should be a high, medium, or low priority.

    3. Decide How to Proceed

    Once you’ve selected on which risks to focus, determine the detection techniques. Make your action plan, and decide the best practices for mitigation. Eliminate the problem as quickly and simply as possible.

    Think back to the last project that you completed. If you didn’t complete an FMEA for the project, consider doing one now. Experience is a great teacher. As you study for the FMEA PMP exam questions, use your experience and current position to help you study and think about these terms. Doing this will help you feel better prepared to ace the exam and receive your PMP certification.

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    2 Responses to What is FMEA? PMP Topics You Should Know

    1. Arron August 13, 2017 at 3:24 am #

      For whom is working FMEA in Excel, iQASystem TreeTABLE Addin will be the best solution for saving time and money.

    2. John Hartwell August 15, 2017 at 7:01 am #

      Thank you for the articles. However RPN should not be the only number to evaluate risks because sometime higher RPN does not mean higher risk. please check more detail at

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