Failure analysis (FA) management is insufficiently described by current standards and literature. Previously proposed three-step systemic FA methodology provides effective and efficient alternative to sporadic FA. Organization, methods and results of the first step of the systemic FA, failure mode analysis (FMA), during product/project life cycle, is described. FMA promptly address ∼80% of all problems and justify/supports further actions using conventional ready techniques and resources. Original subject matter tools (three FMA levels, joint FMA-FMECA-F5 technique, and P5 failure classification) substantiate, facilitate and illustrate FMA. Multiple examples demonstrate FMA strengths and limitations with uniquely broad range of products and applications. Particular attention is paid to rare combination of high quality, reliability and profitability.