Method, Examples, Tools & Template

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Root Cause Analysis


15 Jun, 2022

A Root Cause Analysis is a method of problem-solving that is used to identify the root causes of issues or problems. By identifying and addressing the root causes, organizations can prevent these issues from happening again. In this blog post, we will explore every aspect of Root Cause Analysis. We discuss the meaning, when to use it, who can use it, its goals, different tools, its benefits and its pitfalls. As well as software to help you overcome these pitfalls.

Quality Glossary Definition: Root cause analysis

A root cause is defined as a factor that caused a nonconformance and should be permanently eliminated through process improvement. The root cause is the core issue—the highest-level cause—that sets in motion the entire cause-and-effect reaction that ultimately leads to the problem(s).

Root cause analysis (RCA) is defined as a collective term that describes a wide range of approaches, tools, and techniques used to uncover causes of problems. Some RCA approaches are geared more toward identifying true root causes than others, some are more general problem-solving techniques, and others simply offer support for the core activity of root cause analysis.

Содержание
  1. The 5 Whys
  2. History of Root Cause analysis
  3. Define the Problem
  4. What Are the Four Steps in a Root Cause Analysis?
  5. Where Can You Get Root Cause Analysis Templates?
  6. Who can do a Root Cause Analysis?
  7. Approaches to Root Cause Analysis
  8. The goal of a Root Cause Analysis
  9. What Is the First Step of Rca?
  10. What Root Cause Analysis for Dummies?
  11. Root Cause Analysis Resources
  12. Books
  13. Articles
  14. Case Studies
  15. Webcasts
  16. Certification
  17. Courses
  18. The Benefits of Root Cause Analysis
  19. Preparing for the worst and mitigating the effects
  20. Promoting and facilitating better planning
  21. Eradicating unnecessary costs
  22. Improving workflow efficiency
  23. Establishing Quality Management Framework
  24. Understanding the process of Root Cause Analysis
  25. Identify the problem
  26. Gather data and document details
  27. Solve the problem
  28. Tools to identify problems and analyse data
  29. 5 Why Analysis
  30. Ishikawa Diagram
  31. Pareto Chart (The 80/20 Rule)
  32. Conducting Root Cause Analysis
  33. Is Root Cause Analysis Used in Project Management?
  34. How to Use the Root Cause Analysis Tools to Perform Root Cause Analysis?
  35. Do You Need a Template to Perform a Root Cause Analysis?
  36. Which Step Should You Write a Root Cause Analysis Report on?
  37. Which Approach Should you Use to Perform Root Cause Analysis?
  38. Which Sectors Can You Perform Root Cause Analysis on?
  39. How Should You Organize Your Root Cause Analysis Meetings?
  40. What Is the Effect of Performing Root Cause Analysis on Work Efficiency?
  41. When should you use a Root Cause Analysis?
  42. What Are the Benefits of Root Cause Analysis?
  43. Prioritize the Causes
  44. How Is Root Cause Analysis Used and by Which Industries?
  45. 1. Health and Safety
  46. 2. IT and Telecommunications
  47. 3. Manufacturing and Industrial Process Control
  48. 4. Systems Analysis
  49. Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA)
  50. What Are the Tools of Root Cause Analysis?
  51. Determine the Root Cause of the Problem
  52. What is Root Cause Analysis?
  53. What Is the Purpose of Root Cause Analysis?
  54. Fault Tree Analysis (FTA)
  55. Pitfalls of the Root Cause Analysis process
  56. Determine Potential Causal Factors
  57. What Are the Root Cause Analysis Steps?
  58. What Are the 6 PS of Root Cause Analysis?
  59. #1. Pareto Chart
  60. #2. The 5 Whys
  61. #3. Scatter Plot Diagram
  62. #4. Fault Tree Analysis (FTA)
  63. #5. Fishbone Diagram
  64. #6. Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA) 
  65. Use eNCTS during your Root Cause Analysis
  66. What Are the Challenges of Root Cause Analysis?
  67. How to Use the Tools in Root Cause Analysis?
  68. In What Steps Can Tools Be Used During a Root Cause Analysis?
  69. Do Root Cause Analysis Tools Have Templates?
  70. What Is the Importance of the Tools of Root Cause Analysis?
  71. How Do Tools of Root Cause Analysis Improve Work Efficiency?
  72. Which Sectors Can Benefit from the Use of Root Cause Analysis Tools?
  73. What Are the Different Approaches to Performing a Root Cause Analysis?
  74. Importance of Root Cause Analysis
  75. Collect Data about the Problem
  76. Scatter Plot Diagram
  77. Fishbone Diagram
  78. What Is the History of Root Cause Analysis?
  79. Root Cause Analysis Example
  80. Types of Root Causes
  81. What Are the Resources about Root Cause Analysis?
  82. What Are the 5 Whys of RCA?
  83. Conclusion
  84. Solution, Recommendation, and Implementation

The 5 Whys

The 5 Whys method uses a series of questions to understand the layers of a problem. The idea is that each time you ask why, the answer you give becomes the fundamental of the next why until you find the sources of the problem. The 5 Whys is a simple tool used for problems where you don’t need any advanced data. This method is used to deeply analyze the results of a Pareto chart used in Six Sigma.

History of Root Cause analysis

Root cause analysis can be traced to the broader field of total quality management (TQM). TQM has developed in different directions, including a number of problem analysis, problem solving, and root cause analysis.

Define the Problem

The first step when performing root cause analysis is to analyze the existing situation. This is where the team identifies the factors that impact the problematic event. The outcome of this step is a statement that comprises the specific problem. A small team is tasked with the definition of the problem. This could be research staff who assesses and analyzes the situation. The question to be answered at this initial stage is: What is the problem?, How does the problem affect customer needs? etc.

What Are the Four Steps in a Root Cause Analysis?

The four steps in a typical root cause analysis

  • Identify Possible Causal Factors
  • Find the root of the problem
  • Identify Communication Issues.
  • Prioritize the challenges in communication.

Where Can You Get Root Cause Analysis Templates?

Root cause analysis templates are easily made using simple programs like Word or Excel. The example below is a root cause analysis template made in Excel.

root cause analysis

Who can do a Root Cause Analysis?

Basically, the organization can choose to employ both internal and external teams of experts to investigate the problem. But this could also depend on the scale of the problem and how much impact it caused on the organization. If there is an occurrence of a major non-conformance, a sophisticated team of experts has to get involved to broadly analyze the problem.

External players could also be involved in the process of executing the Root Cause Analysis to gather high-quality findings from an independent perspective, which the organization may badly need to make proper decisions.

Approaches to Root Cause Analysis

There are many methodologies, approaches, and techniques for conducting root cause analysis, including:

  1. Events and causal factor analysis: Widely used for major, single-event problems, such as a refinery explosion, this process uses evidence gathered quickly and methodically to establish a timeline for the activities leading up to the accident. Once the timeline has been established, the causal and contributing factors can be identified.
  2. Change analysis: This approach is applicable to situations where a system’s performance has shifted significantly. It explores changes made in people, equipment, information, and more that may have contributed to the change in performance.
  3. Barrier analysis: This technique focuses on what controls are in place in the process to either prevent or detect a problem, and which might have failed.
  4. Management oversight and risk tree analysis: One aspect of this approach is the use of a tree diagram to look at what occurred and why it might have occurred.
  5. Kepner-Tregoe Problem Solving and Decision Making: This model provides four distinct phases for resolving problems:
    1. Situation analysis
    2. Problem analysis
    3. Solution analysis
    4. Potential problem analysis

Root Cause
Root Cause Analysis Diagram

The goal of a Root Cause Analysis

  • Identifying the root cause of the problem. Understanding why non-conformance occurred in the organization is always the first priority when implementing or running Root Cause Analysis. Without identifying why problems or non-conformances occurred, everything that follows become meaningless. However, when the problem is identified, it helps in the appropriate execution of strategic interventions in form of corrective and preventive actions
  • Deriving the best way to fix the problem. Identifying the problem is not enough without understanding the right and appropriate fixes required. This second goal of the Root Cause Analysis is also important in the sense that the right solutions are adopted in response to the problem that has been identified. It takes the right approach to fix or handle non-conformances in the organization. When there are failures or weaknesses in the entire process, the core goals and objectives could be considered useless. So, handling non-conformances could involve a series of measures, steps and recommendations that could be employed to deal with the problem.
  • Drawing important conclusions and learning critical lessons. After understanding what caused non-conformance in the organization, it becomes a stepping stone in drawing important conclusions and even learning crucial lessons that help the organization bulletproof itself from similar occurrences in the future.

What Is the First Step of Rca?

  • Define the Problem

It involves examining the details of what is taking place and learning the precise symptoms of the issue.

What Root Cause Analysis for Dummies?

A tool called root cause analysis (RCA) can be used to determine what, how, and why an event happened so that preventative measures can be done in the future. RCA can also be used to pinpoint areas that need systemic change.

Root Cause Analysis Resources

You can also search articles, case studies, and publications for RCA resources.

Books

The ASQ Pocket Guide to Root Cause Analysis

Root Cause Analysis: The Core of Problem Solving and Corrective Action

Root Cause Analysis: Simplified Tools and Techniques

Data Quality: Dimensions, Measurement, Strategy, Management, and Governance

Articles

The Art of Root Cause Analysis (Quality Progress) Five whys analysis is the art of systematically drilling down to a real root cause. Essentially, you can find the root cause of a problem and show the relationship of causes by repeatedly asking the question, «Why?»

Under Scrutiny Quality Progress) A new definition of root cause could help people realize a systematic process beyond cause and effect is needed for root cause analysis.

Digging For the Root Cause (Six Sigma Forum Magazine) At the philosophical level, there is no absolute root cause in the infinite chain of causation. With this concept in mind, the challenge is to know when to stop drilling down and conclude the root cause has been reached. In Six Sigma training there are three keys that can help achieve that end, which this article explores.

Case Studies

The Impact Of Human Factors On Lead Time (Journal for Quality and Participation) EDR, a provider of property management software solutions, applies the DMAIC process to uncover and address the root causes of a customer lead time problem.

Using Exploratory Data Analysis To Improve The Fresh Foods Ordering Process In Retail Stores (PDF) This case study demonstrates how explorative data analysis, root cause analysis, and basic statistics helped reduce the inefficiencies in the retail inventory and ordering process of fresh foods within grocery chains.

Webcasts

Root Cause Analysis for Beginners, Part 1 Jim Rooney, an ASQ Fellow and quality veteran with more than 30 years’ experience in numerous industries, walks through the basics of root cause analysis in this first of a two-part webcast series.

Root Cause Analysis for Beginners, Part 2 Jim Rooney, an ASQ Fellow and quality veteran with more than 30 years’ experience in numerous industries, walks through the basics of root cause analysis in this second of a two-part webcast series.

Getting The Defects Out Of Root Cause Analysis In this 50-minute presentation, author Duke Okes introduces root cause analysis, covering topics including defining important terminology, describing types of causes, determining how deep to take an investigation, defining the problem clearly, and more.

Certification

Courses

Adapted from Root Cause Analysis: Simplified Tools and Techniques and Root Cause Analysis: The Core of Problem Solving and Corrective Action, ASQ Quality Press.

The Benefits of Root Cause Analysis

Root Cause Analysis offers significant benefits to the organization and these include;

Preparing for the worst and mitigating the effects

The organization is able to understand in detail what, who, where and when the problem of non-conformance has happened. With a better understanding of the problem, it helps to devise the right strategies and approaches employed to correct the problem and mistakes that may result in significant losses for the organization.

So, when non-conformances have been discovered, the organization is able to understand the damage caused, the financial losses incurred and the reputation damage it caused. But with a better understanding of the rate of impact, the organization can also learn from mistakes and implement preventative actions that could safeguard it from the recurrence of the same problem in the future.

Promoting and facilitating better planning

Any organization requires a better understanding of the challenges it faces and knowing how to deal with them. Root Cause Analysis incentivizes the organization’s players to front and prioritizes the idea of better planning. This will help in deriving the best mechanisms for solving problems by effectively operationalizing quality management systems in the organization.

Eradicating unnecessary costs

  • How much has been lost as a result of a non-conformance? This could be the number of revenues or profits that an organization lost as a setback after the problem occurred
  • How much will the organization lose if the problem is ignored? When the problem is not effectively handled by ignoring it, it could result in more serious financial losses and other undesirable implications.
  • How much does it take to solve the problem? The Root Cause Analysis must have this detail to help decision-makers within the organization because they need the right resources to execute the corrective action plan.

Improving workflow efficiency

  • Emphasize the need for standardizing operational procedures and guidelines. Based on the findings and the investigations carried out, the organization will be forced to take both corrective and preventative actions by emphasizing the adoption of Standard operating procedures.
  • Creating a sense of accountability where all players in the organization and the entire business chain live up to the established standards. Root Cause Analysis can expose loopholes in the workflow when there are no accountability mechanisms in place.
  • Engaging teams to understand the problems they go through and collecting critical information in relation to why non-conformance happened. When employees share their experiences, the organization is able to act on their concerns as part of the overall strategy in trying to prevent the recurrence of the problem.

Establishing Quality Management Framework

  • Timely quality auditing and an inspection could be implemented. This basically means that the quality assurance department makes frequent evaluations of the Quality Management Systems to understand if they’re working as expected.
  • Adopting standardized procedures by implementing the right framework for product quality assessment.
  • Encouraging research and development where various studies are conducted to better understand how to adopt the right quality workflows within the organization.

Understanding the process of Root Cause Analysis

Identify the problem

One of the primary goals of Root Cause Analysis is to identify the problem by gathering all the details that can help to explain why non-conformances happened. The root cause is identified and properly documented to help decision-makers in the organization understand the best mechanisms to employ while responding.

Gather data and document details

The best way to understand the problem is to have as many details as possible. The people charged with analyzing and studying the problem need to make sure every detail is gathered and nothing is left behind. Crucial questions like why did the problem happen? Who is responsible? How did it happen? When did it happen? And what should be done to offset the problem? In the process of gathering critical data about the problem, all these questions need to be answered in the most honest way. If any detail about the problem is left out, it could seriously limit the organization’s ability to execute an effective corrective action in response to the perceived non-conformances.

Solve the problem

When non-conformance is identified, the next step is to execute a corrective action plan to offset the problem. Usually, corrective actions could be a series of steps an organization can take while responding and mitigating the occurrence of non-conformances.

  • Corrective actions should be implemented or executed based on the evidence proving the existence of the problem. If the organization and its decision-makers rely on inaccurate data, then the interventions they take are likely not to work regarding the identified problem.
  • Understanding the actual costs involved. Root Cause Analysis as an entire process requires resources and a dedicated team to thoroughly study the problem and document all the details required. But also, the analysis needs to lay out the facts concerning the financial implications caused as a result of the problem.
  • All important players should be involved. Throughout the execution of the Root Cause Analysis, all relevant parties should be consulted and take their input on the matter.

Tools to identify problems and analyse data

There are different types of analysis to get to the root cause of a problem. In this way, Root Cause Analysis is seen as a bundle of different tools and methodologies. And the type of analysis used usually depends on the problem being solved, as well as the industry or sector in which an organization operates.

Here are some popular Root Cause Analysis tools:

5 Why Analysis

This is a simple yet effective tool for getting to the root cause of a problem. As the name suggests, 5 Why Analysis requires the problem solvers to ask the question “why” five times. Doing this helps to peel back the layers of a problem until its root cause is uncovered.

The 5 Why Analysis tool is especially useful for simple problems that have a linear cause and effect. It’s also quite popular because it’s easy to use and doesn’t require too much data.

Ishikawa Diagram

  1. Identify the problem.
  2. Draw an arrow with the problem at the end.
  3. Draw lines coming out from the arrow with the categories people, machines, materials, methods, environment, and measurements.

After analysing you will find the potential causes.

Ishikawa Diagram

Pareto Chart (The 80/20 Rule)

This is a graphical tool used for prioritization. Pareto Chart is popular in different industries as it helps organizations quickly identify which areas require immediate attention. It also allows decision-makers to see which problems are more important than others.

In using a Pareto Chart, the first step is to determine the different factors that contribute to the problem. Then, these factors are ranked according to their contribution or impact on the problem. After which, a graphical representation is made to easily see which areas need more attention.

The Pareto chart is based on the principle that states that 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. In other words, a small number of factors contribute to the majority of the problems. Fixing this 20% can have a big impact on the entire system.

Method, Examples, Tools & Template

Conducting Root Cause Analysis

When carrying out root cause analysis methods and processes, it’s important to note:

  • While many root cause analysis tools can be used by a single person, the outcome generally is better when a group of people work together to find the problem causes.
  • Those ultimately responsible for removing the identified root cause(s) should be prominent members of the analysis team that sets out to uncover them.
  1. A decision is made to form a small team to conduct the root cause analysis.
  2. Team members are selected from the business process/area of the organization that experiences the problem. The team might be supplemented by:
    • A line manager with decision authority to implement solutions
    • An internal customer from the process with problems
    • A quality improvement expert in the case where the other team members have little experience with this kind of work
  3. The analysis lasts about two months. During the analysis, equal emphasis is placed on defining and understanding the problem, brainstorming its possible causes, analyzing causes and effects, and devising a solution to the problem.
  4. During the analysis period, the team meets at least weekly, sometimes two or three times a week. The meetings are always kept short, at maximum two hours, and since they are meant to be creative in nature, the agenda is quite loose.
  5. One person in the team is assigned the role of making sure the analysis progresses, or tasks are assigned to various members of the team.
  6. Once the solution has been designed and the decision to implement has been taken, it can take anywhere from a day to several months before the change is complete, depending on what is involved in the implementation process.

Is Root Cause Analysis Used in Project Management?

Root cause analysis is used in project management to find solutions to recurring problems, prevent problems from occurring, and ensure that strategic goals are met. While the method was first applied in the engineering industry in the 1980s, RCA soon found application in multiple domains. As such, root cause analysis first breakthrough in the field of project management was made in 1986 with the development of quality standards designed for application in manufacturing companies. These standards are known as the Six Sigma approach. In recent years, root cause analysis has been also successfully implemented in modern PM approaches such as Agile project management.

How to Use the Root Cause Analysis Tools to Perform Root Cause Analysis?

Root cause analysis tools represent methods designed to help you conduct RCA and determine the underlying cause of an event or a problem. Some of the most widely used RCA tools and their utilization are explained below.

The Fishbone Diagram is a technique that helps to group multiple causes into various categories. By identifying such similarities between causes, you can easily navigate through the challenges, prioritize their impact, and ultimately determine the underlying cause of the problem. To use the fishbone diagram, the head of the fish needs to represent the problem, while the primary group causes are represented along the fishbone. You can also draw additional secondary causal factors along each primary cause.

The Fault Tree Analysis (FTA) is another root cause analysis tool that uses the boolean logic to determine a problem’s root cause. Through the visualization of the problem at the top of the chart and mapping all the affected subsystems in the form of branches, the tool establishes the relationships between a problematic event and its effect on other parts of a system. FTA uses deduction to determine root causes of events and it is helpful to identify system risks.

The 5 Whys analysis is a technique from the Lean toolset that helps to narrow down the root cause of a problem by simply asking why-questions. To arrive at the root cause of an event, you need to ask “Why” as many times as needed. Normally it takes no more than five times to identify a root cause. The evaluation method is very effective to determine how different root causes relate to one another and brings clarity into the chain of events.

Do You Need a Template to Perform a Root Cause Analysis?

Root cause analysis templates can be very helpful to establish the foundation of the process and streamline its progress.

Reporting RCA templates include key data such as the description of the event at fault, an established timeline of events leading to the event at fault, the team tasked with the analysis process as well as the RCA method that will be used to arrive at the root cause. The information can be laid out in any form you like.

RCA tools templates are useful to visualize the entire analysis process. RCA templates such as 5 Whys or Pareto chart templates can be easily created using a variety of programs such as Excel or other niche software solutions.

Which Step Should You Write a Root Cause Analysis Report on?

All the steps in a root cause analysis should be briefly and concisely documented in an RCA report upon the completion of the analysis. The information that needs to be listed on the report is listed below:

  • Introduction. Outline the purpose of the report, determine the intended audience, and the scope of the document.
  • Problem Description. Provide a clear and detailed description of the problematic event including the date of occurrence, the involved person or team who detected the event, the affected parties, and the extent of the effects in as many details as possible.
  • Establish Timeline of Events. Capture and describe all the events which led to the event at fault and the ones that followed it. Be punctual about the timing of each event, the involved parties, and rich details when describing the events.
  • Utilized Methods. Provide information about the used analysis methodologies to determine the root cause of the problem, the people involved at each step of the process, and their specific roles.
  • Findings Explanation. Ensure that all the findings are captured and reported, no matter how small and insignificant they may seem. The findings should clearly explain the root cause of the problem.
  • Recommendations. Explaining the problem in detail should also include all the additional causes the team analyzing the problem has found. This part of the report will help further investigate cause-and-effect relationships and it will prevent the rise of a potential problem.

Which Approach Should you Use to Perform Root Cause Analysis?

To determine the most effective way to find the root cause of a problem it is important that you diligently perform the first steps of the process. By asking the right questions and gathering critical details about the event, you’ll manage to determine the problem and its contributing factors. Based on that information, the most suitable root cause analysis approach will correspond to factors such as the number of causal factors identified and their diversity, how they relate to one another, do you need to apply deduction, etc.

Which Sectors Can You Perform Root Cause Analysis on?

RCA is a powerful approach to determine problems’ underlying causes and it allows companies to create stable work processes by preventing future occurrence of the same issue. The utilization of root cause analysis in a wide range of industries and sectors stems from its ability to solve problems and support an organizational culture of continuous improvement. Some of the industries where RCA is highly applicable are listed below.

  • Manufacturing
  • Health and Safety
  • Telecommunications

How Should You Organize Your Root Cause Analysis Meetings?

Root cause analysis meetings allow teams and stakeholders to learn and improve. Through an in-depth analysis of a problem, its underlying cause, and additional causal factors, RCA meetings bring not only solutions to an existing problem, but also have preventive nature. Everyone involved in the problem should be involved in RCA meetings, team members, leaders, and stakeholders alike.

Phase 1: RCA meetings should be organized and led by leaders familiar with the specifics of the problem itself. It’s their role to clarify the meeting’s structure for all the attendees. They should also explain the goal of the meeting. 

Phase 2: To navigate through the exact sequence of events, a timeline should be established explaining how the problem was detected, when, and who raised the alarm. The root cause analysis method employed should be announced. 

Phase 3: During the next phase of the meeting, stakeholders and team members are involved in the discussion to list all the potential causes of the event considering their valuable insights and experience. 

Phase 4: Upon listing potential causes, facts about the problem should be gathered to help narrow down the actual potential causes and eliminate the ones that fail to explain the event.

Phase 5: Once the root cause or causes are identified, everyone involved in the meeting should discuss the next logical steps to take to remedy the problem and prevent its further occurring.

What Is the Effect of Performing Root Cause Analysis on Work Efficiency?

Root cause analysis provides the means and tools to find and eliminate problems. Most importantly, the method supports problem-solving with optimal use of resources which greatly impacts the overall work efficiency. By targeting the root causes of problems, and tackling all causal factors, the technique allows organizations to be more effective, and to increase their work efficiency. The logical process of capturing the root cause of a problem, the preventive nature of RCA, and the supporting real data are some of the key advantages which make the analysis model so appealing and successful.

To perform an effective root causes analysis, there are six main steps that you need to do.

  1. Define the Problem.
  2. Collect Data about the Problem.
  3. Determine Potential Causal Factors.
  4. Determine the Root Cause or Causes of the Problem.
  5. Prioritize the Causes.
  6. Solution, Recommendation, and Implementation.

When should you use a Root Cause Analysis?

Root Cause Analysis can help to fix problems, but it can also be used to improve processes, prevent quality issues, and prevent problems from happening in the first place. In general, when a problem is found or a requirement is not met, first you will create a Non-Conformance Report, and then the appointed party will do a Root Cause Analysis.

Situations, which can result in a Root Cause Analysis are:

  • A process is not meeting its quality or requirement goals
  • There are too many defects in a process
  • Customer complaints are increasing
  • There is a sudden drop in productivity

Root Cause Analysis can be used in many different types of industries such as space, aerospace, defence, manufacturing, healthcare, service, and construction.

What Are the Benefits of Root Cause Analysis?

The root cause analysis approach helps to describe a problem, identify and determine its primary cause(s). Reaching the heart of a problem and inspecting its aspects allows RCA to create an efficient, systematic problem-solving approach. Thanks to this preventive aspect, the problem-solving technique benefits organizations and processes by making them look deep into a problem and find permanent solutions. It also creates a prevention plan and identifies organizational improvement opportunities. Of course, RCA comes with advantages and disadvantages, so let’s look at the challenges of the method.

Prioritize the Causes

Once the root causes are established, they need to be prioritized and tackled accordingly. To determine which cause or challenge to address first, the analysis team needs to assess what is the impact of the cause — the higher the impact, the greater its priority. Another point when prioritizing root causes is the number of causal factors triggered by a specific challenge — the greater the number of causal factors, the greater the impact of the root cause is and yields immediate addressing.

How Is Root Cause Analysis Used and by Which Industries?

Thanks to its wide range of tools, root cause analysis is applicable in multiple areas and industries, offering organizations problem-solving methods and supporting decision-making. Some of the fields where root cause analysis techniques are commonly used are healthcare, telecommunications, IT, and manufacturing.

1. Health and Safety

Root cause analysis is applied in healthcare to examine events to determine root causes of problems that led to undesired outcomes such as harm to patients or medication side effects. The analysis is utilized to improve patients’ safety, take corrective measures to prevent future occurrence of such events.

2. IT and Telecommunications

The application of root cause analysis techniques in IT and telecommunications helps to detect the root causes of newly-surfaced problematic services or deal with recurring problems. The analysis is widely used in processes such as incident management, security management, etc.

3. Manufacturing and Industrial Process Control

RCA is used in manufacturing processes to identify the root causes of engineering or maintenance failure. Root cause analysis methods allow the control of quality in the production of chemicals in the industrial process control discipline.

4. Systems Analysis

RCA has been successfully applied to change management or risk management areas thanks to its problem-solving abilities. RCA is also suitable for analyzing businesses, determining their goals, and creating processes to reach those goals, making it ideal for system analysis.

Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA)

Failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA) is a method used to explore potential defects or failures during the process and product design. In Six Sigma, FMEA gives project teams a tool to predict the most likely failures that may impact the customers. The Failure Mode and Effects Analysis is implemented during the analyze phase of the Six Sigma DMAIC cycle, and it helps to estimate the significance of the impact of possible process failures.

What Are the Tools of Root Cause Analysis?

Among the most prominent and widely used root cause analysis tools are the five whys method, Pareto charts, scatter diagram, fishbone diagram, and failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA).

Firstly, Pareto charts are used to indicate the frequency of distribution of defects and their cumulative effect. The famous 80-20 Pareto principle helps to inspect the potential root causes and failures. It can therefore be used to identify equipment faults or process impediments quite efficiently. The Pareto chart prioritizes the identified faults in order of severity and provides a more detailed explanation of the defects that need to be addressed first.

Secondly, the 5 Whys analysis is one of the ultimate problem-solving tools in the Lean toolset. It allows you to break down the aspects of a problem or an event to reveal its root causes. The technique implies answering as many “Why” questions as needed to arrive at the real cause. Originating from the manufacturing domain, the 5 Whys method is nowadays implemented into a wide range of fields where human, technical, or process issues occur.

Another tool used for root cause analysis is scatter diagram. The scatter diagram is a statistical approach that shows the relationship between two variables in a two-dimensional diagram. By plotting cause and effect in it, the scatter diagram is utilized to identify potential variation causes.

One of the other tools used in root cause analysis is fishbone diagram. The fishbone diagram, also known as Ishikawa method, is a fishbone-looking diagram that illustrates that multiple factors, responsible for a problem, failure, or event. The problem or event is shown where the fish’s head is, the cause is represented along the fish backbone. Further contributing factors are illustrated along the fish bones. The fishbone diagram method helps brainstorm an idea, a process bottleneck or find improvement opportunities by visualizing the process in a diagram.

The FMEA approach to root cause analysis has a preventive nature. The method aims to predict the future failures of a system by analyzing past performance data. The analysis requires input from various safety and quality control teams to calculate the risk priority number (RPN) of a system. To arrive at this number, the team needs to consider potential disruptions, past failure modes, and analysis of possible failure modes. The FMEA method facilitates the identification of a weak point in a system or a process.

Determine the Root Cause of the Problem

This is the time to identify as many causes as possible. The analysis team can use techniques such as the 5 Whys, Fishbone analysis, or Pareto chart to narrow down the potential underlying cause or causes of the problem and the major contributing factors. During this phase, stakeholders and other relevant teams should be involved.

What is Root Cause Analysis?

Root Cause Analysis refers to the process of studying and understanding the root cause of the problem that leads to non-conformances in the organization. It involves broader investigations by analyzing every piece of detail crucial for the implementation of corrective actions. The organization can also base on the information derived from Root Cause Analysis to bulletproof its workflows from being affected by the reoccurrence of the same problem in the future. To achieve this, a series of steps could be adopted and implemented.

What Is the Purpose of Root Cause Analysis?

Root cause analysis aims to uncover the root cause of problems, find the optimal way to repair faults, and find a solution that can be applied to prevent the recurrence of the event at fault. Thus, the method supports all efforts to locate the true causes of processes faults or impediments and fix them to continuously improve.

The RCA method is successfully used to identify root causes and contributing factors to a problem and create a prevention plan. In combination with other problem-analysis techniques such as barrier analysis, risk tree analysis, etc., root cause analysis is helpful for incident management, maintenance issues, productivity issues, risk analysis, etc.

Fault Tree Analysis (FTA)

Fault tree analysis (FTA) is a graphical tool and one of the more useful tools in Lean Six Sigma problem investigations. FTA explores the causes of system-level failures. Fault tree analysis prioritizes the risks in a way that allows the highest risks to be resolved first. It uses boolean logic to combine a series of lower-level events, and it is basically a top-down approach to identify the component level failures (basic event) that cause the system level failure (top event) to occur. When combined with other Lean Six Sigma tools, fault tree analysis helps the team focus on the most important input variables to the key output variables in a given process. FTA is a top-down approach to identify the component-level failures that cause the system-level failure to occur.

Pitfalls of the Root Cause Analysis process

As much as the Root Cause Analysis is a very essential process in quality management, there are certain pitfalls that could make it ineffective. These pitfalls include:

Relying on common knowledge or assumptions rather than evidence-based data: This usually happens when decision-makers do not want to invest in getting accurate information about the problem. Instead, they just want to quickly come up with a solution without having all the facts.

Not involving all stakeholders: While executing Root Cause Analysis, it’s important to involve all relevant parties. Failure to do this could lead to a situation where some ideas are not captured, and as a result, the organization might not be able to fully offset the problem.

Communication: After the Root Cause Analysis is concluded, it’s important to communicate the findings and decisions made to all stakeholders. This ensures everyone is on the same page and working together to solve the problem.

Not taking action: After the Root Cause Analysis is complete, and all the details about the problem have been gathered, it’s important to take action. But sometimes organizations might be reluctant to do this because of the fear of the unknown. Also, some decision-makers might not want to be held responsible for the actions taken.

Not tracking problems: In some cases, the Root Cause Analysis might identify a problem that happened in the past, and it’s no longer possible to take corrective action. In such a situation, it’s important to have traceability so that similar problems can be prevented in the future.

Determine Potential Causal Factors

Creating a sequence of events is important to identify causal factors that can contribute to the observed problem or event. The project team tasked with the analysis of the problem should establish a timeline of events and brainstorm as many potential causal factors as possible by asking “Why?” questions. Using a causal graph, for instance, helps to visually represent the connection between events and enables tracking of the root cause.

What Are the Root Cause Analysis Steps?

There are six main steps to perform a root cause analysis.

  1. Identify the problem or event and describe it in a clear and comprehensive language.
  2. Create a timeline to visualize the normal state of a process until the event occurs.
  3. Distinguish between the root cause of a problem and additional causal factors.
  4. Create a causal graphic visualization between the root cause and the problem.
  5. Prioritize the identified root causes and establish which ones need to be addressed first.
  6. Find and implement the solution or solutions to the identified problem.

What Are the 6 PS of Root Cause Analysis?

Causes are generally categorized into six broad groups, known as the 6 Ps.

  • People
  • Process
  • Program
  • Product
  • Policy
  • Place

Root cause analysis (RCA) is a procedure for locating the underlying causes of issues and a methodical approach to addressing them. The foundation of root cause analysis is the belief that good management should discover a means to stop issues before they spread throughout an entire organization and interfere with its operations.

One of the most important aspects of quality management’s problem-solving process is root cause analysis. Since root cause analysis is a crucial part of the define, measure, analyze, improve, and control (DMAIC) phase, it is a crucial component of the Six Sigma approach.

The six main root cause analysis tools are applied during the process of determining a problem’s root causes.

#1. Pareto Chart

A Pareto chart is a bar graph in which the bars are ordered from most often to least often, reading from left to right. The severity or frequency of the issues is represented by the height of the bars. The Pareto chart guides the quality improvement group’s attention to the most consequential areas for change. Root cause analysis is a crucial step in the Six Sigma process that uses the Pareto chart to identify issues and potential solutions. You can use steps X, Y, and Z to make a Pareto chart.

#2. The 5 Whys

The 5 Whys method asks a series of questions to uncover a problem’s underlying causes. It is basically intended that each time you ask “why,” the response you provide serves as the basis for the subsequent “why” questions until the problem’s root causes are identified. For issues where you don’t need complex data, use the 5 Whys easy tool. This approach is applicable in Six Sigma to thoroughly examine the outcomes of a Pareto chart.

#3. Scatter Plot Diagram

This is a two-dimensional graph of a set of data. To find their link, the scatter diagram graphs pairs of numerical data with one variable on each axis. Six Sigma makes extensive use of it since it can display nonlinear relationships between variables. In Six Sigma, scatter charts are a common technique for problem analysis. In addition, scatter plots display the relationships between the variables.

There are generally three sorts of correlation: positive, negative, and no correlation. Correlation is the term used to describe this relationship. In Six Sigma, a scatter plot will show if there is a positive, negative, or no association between a problem and a cause. This thus makes it easier for quality teams to determine which fictitious cause has the biggest impact on an issue and which one you need to fix first.

#4. Fault Tree Analysis (FTA)

One of the more beneficial tools in Lean Six Sigma problem investigations is fault tree analysis (FTA), which is a graphical tool. FTA investigates the reasons for system-level errors. While risks are ranked using a fault tree analysis, which enables the greatest risks to be addressed first. It essentially employs a top-down methodology to detect the component-level failures (basic event) that lead to the system-level failure (top event) by combining a sequence of lower-level events using boolean logic. Fault tree analysis aids the team in concentrating on the most crucial input variables to the crucial output variables in a given process. Most especially when used in conjunction with other Lean Six Sigma methods. To determine the component-level failures that lead to system-level failure, FTA uses a top-down methodology.

#5. Fishbone Diagram

An Ishikawa or cause-and-effect diagram (fishbone diagram) classifies potential causes that stem from the original issue. Furthermore, each category in a fishbone diagram may have several additional sub-causes. This cause-and-effect analysis tool that individuals are most frequently using in Six Sigma is the fishbone diagram. In any Six Sigma project, cause-and-effect analysis is one of the most important steps.

#6. Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA) 

FMEA is a technique used to investigate probable flaws or failures during the process and product design. FMEA provides project teams with a tool in Six Sigma to forecast the most likely failures that might have an impact on the consumers. The Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA) is used to evaluate data as part of the Six Sigma DMAIC cycle, and it aids in determining the potential consequences of process failures.

Use eNCTS during your Root Cause Analysis

The eNCTS Module and the ECLIPSE Software Suite help to prevent problems and pitfalls by providing an accurate way of capturing and recording non-conformances, actions and documents. It ensures that all stakeholders have access to the same information, and it’s possible to take corrective action quickly.

Contact our experts today to find out more about how you can use eNCTS and the ECLIPSE Software Suite in your organization.

Non-Conformance Report

What Are the Challenges of Root Cause Analysis?

The root cause analysis method relies heavily on data to create a systematic approach to solving problems. Lack of important information can render the analysis of a process impediment incomplete and inefficient. On the other hand, gathering data over a long time can make identifying a problematic event extremely hard and time-consuming. That’s why it’s important to gather evidence and establish a timeline of events to help you distinguish between common and special causes of problems. Finding that a defect has not one but a few main causes is not uncommon. Establishing a causal graph showing multiple root causes can be a challenge to the root cause analysis method too.

How to Use the Tools in Root Cause Analysis?

Here you can see the ways to use the tools in Root Cause Analysis

  • The Fishbone diagram’s purpose is to identify the many possible causes for a problem and to sort ideas into useful categories. The fishbone diagram should be implemented when the root cause is entirely unknown.
  • The Pareto chart’s purpose is to show which factors are more significant for a problem.
  • The Scatter diagram’s purpose is to help you look for a relationship between two variables. It is a  method of testing correlation between the two variables. To implement this root cause analysis tool, you must plot the suspected cause on the x-axis while the effect is plotted on the y-axis.
  • The 5 Whys purpose is to drill down on a particular problem by asking “Why?” until you identify the core problem. The 5 Whys is best used when implemented with a Pareto Analysis.
  • Failure Mode and Effect Analysis (FMEA) aims to identify different modes in which systems can fail and analyze the consequences and effects of each failure mode. The Failure Mode and Effects Analysis can be implemented during any phase of a particular system — the planning, designing, implementation, or inspection phase, and it helps to estimate the significance of the impact of possible process failures.
  • Fault tree analysis (FTA) purpose is to explore the causes of system-level failures in a top-down approach. You can implement a Fault Tree Analysis in five steps — identify the hazard, obtain an understanding of the system, create the fault tree, identify the cut sets, and lastly, mitigate the risk.

In What Steps Can Tools Be Used During a Root Cause Analysis?

Root cause analysis can be performed in six steps — define the event, find causes, find the root cause, find solutions, take action, verify solution effectiveness. Some of the RCA tools can be implemented during the root cause analysis steps. To define the event and go to the source of the problem, you can use the 5 Whys. To find the potential causes of the event in question, you may implement Fishbone diagrams. To uncover the root cause that lies at the heart of the problem, you can use a Scatter Chart and Pareto Analysis.

Do Root Cause Analysis Tools Have Templates?

Yes, there are root cause analysis tools templates. RCA templates are used to analyze a recurring problem and help eliminate the root causes. Root cause analysis teams drill down to the root of the problem in order to implement solutions so the problem won’t appear again.

  • The 5 Whys template can help ensure that business teams resolve the root cause of problems to avoid them from recurring. This 5 whys template has been designed to make it easier for you to ask and answer the question, “Why?”.
  • The Fishbone Diagram template can be used to explore the potential causes of a particular issue, enabling your team to find a solution more effectively. A Fishbone Diagram template is particularly useful when relying on experience and ideas rather than quantitative data.
  • The Pareto chart template is used to identify and list the problems and their causes. Then, you can score each problem individually and group them together by their cause. This is a clear, visual way to compare various factors contributing to any given problem.
  • A Scatter diagram template can be used to help you find the relationship between respective factors and influences. A scatter diagram charts numerical data pairs with a variable on each axis.

What Is the Importance of the Tools of Root Cause Analysis?

Root cause analysis tools are important in determining and identifying defects and the main causes of defects. By identifying the root cause, the organization can find a permanent solution to it so that possibility of its future re-occurrence can be reduced or eliminated. RCA plays an important role in developing a logical approach to solving problems.

How Do Tools of Root Cause Analysis Improve Work Efficiency?

The tools of root cause analysis are improving work efficiency by detecting and eliminating possible or existing problems at the beginning of a process, system, or production.

Which Sectors Can Benefit from the Use of Root Cause Analysis Tools?

Root cause analysis tools have countless applications in many industries. Here you can see the list of Root Cause Analysis Sectors.

  • Engineering, automotive manufacturing, and industrial process control prevent environmental releases and be utilized for failure analysis in engineering and maintenance.
  • IT and data security, where root cause analysis helps individuals investigate security breaches.
  • Healthcare, where root cause analysis tools are used in environmental science, the medical device industry, occupational safety, and health.
  • Environmental industries, where RCA tools are used to make accident analyses in the aviation and rail industry and prevent their reocurrence.
  • The food and beverage industry to prevent food safety problems and regulatory action by identifying the causes.

The main six approaches to root causes analysis are:

  • Pareto Charts
  • 5 Whys Analysis
  • Scatter Plot Diagrams
  • Fishbone Diagrams
  • Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA)
  • Fault Tree Analysis

What Are the Different Approaches to Performing a Root Cause Analysis?

RCA employs a variety of techniques depending on the field application. The most prominent approaches to root cause analysis are listed below.

  1. Causal Factor Analysis: Causal factor analysis refers to the process of establishing cause and effect. The technique requires the definition of correlation, sequence of events, a mechanism for observation of the effects of a possible cause, and eliminating the possibility of additional alternative causes. The method is successfully applied in the fields of statistics or experimental designs.
  2. Change Analysis: The change analysis technique is a problem-solving method that aims to identify changes or causal factors by comparing the normal state of an event/ problem and a state of the event deviating from it. Therefore, the method requires full specification of deviated and undeviated conditions of an event. The outputs can be easily implemented as recommendations. A drawback of the technique is that it requires testing and may not be conclusive.
  3. Barrier Analysis: Barrier analysis is a root cause analysis tool for identifying behavioral changes and the determinants forming a particular behavior. The technique benefits businesses by helping them develop more effective behavioral change strategies. The outputs of barrier analysis are findings that facilitate decision-making. It can be used in a wide range of different scenarios where a certain attitude needs to be promoted among a target audience.
  4. Risk Tree Analysis: Event or risk tree analysis is a modeling technique for analyzing a system’s positive and negative consequences, given that a triggering event is probable to occur. It employs an event tree modeling technique with a single event at its root and multiple event branches. The method is widely applied in a range of systems such as nuclear and chemical plants. RTA helps to identify potential defects early in the process before the actual issue has occurred. In this sense, the method is also an adequate risk assessment tool that prevents the occurrence of negative outcomes.
  5. Kepner-Tregoe Problem Solving: The Kepner-Tregoe is a problem-solving methodology used for decision-making. The focus of the technique is gathering, prioritizing, and evaluating information. It offers a step-by-step approach to analyzing risks, solving problems systematically, and making decisions. Due to its ability to break down a problem into its component parts such as who, when, and how, it can be applied to a wide range of fields. The technique allows us to distinguish between the features of a problem and narrow down its true root cause.

Importance of Root Cause Analysis

The goal of root cause analyses is to determine what problems an organization must solve to improve its operations and reach its objectives. So, it is essential to get to the bottom of a problem to develop better solutions.

Businesses are less likely to have the same or similar problems and events happen again if they do root cause analyses and use the right solution. By doing this, businesses can make it less likely that an accident will hurt workers, the community, or the environment. Hence, businesses can save money on things like business interruption, extra regulatory fees, audits, and emergency response.

It’s also important to note that public trust can be earned when organizations prioritize prevention over the treatment of symptoms alone. An incident-free history can be used as a recruiting and retention tool, strengthening the safety culture.

Collect Data about the Problem

A critical step in root cause analysis is the collection of relevant data about an incident or a problematic event. Documenting all the characteristics and specifications of the event will help you answer questions like What are the contributing factors? When did the problem occur? Is it a repeating event? What is the observed impact? etc.

Scatter Plot Diagram

A scatter diagram is a two-dimensional graphical representation of a set of data. The scatter diagram graphs pairs numerical data with one variable on each axis to look for their relationship. Its ability to show nonlinear relationships between variables is widely used in Six Sigma. Scatter plots are widely used as a tool for analyzing problems in Six Sigma. Scatter plots show how the variables relate to each other. This relationship is called correlation, and there are three types of correlation: positive, negative, and no correlation. In Six Sigma, a scatter plot will visually display the correlation between a problem and a cause, whether there is positive, negative, or no correlation. This helps quality teams to evaluate which hypothetical cause has the greatest impact on a problem and which should be solved first.

Fishbone Diagram

A fishbone diagram, also called a cause-and-effect or Ishikawa diagram, sorts possible causes into various categories that origin from the initial problem. Moreover, a fishbone diagram may have additional multiple sub-causes derived from each identified category. The fishbone diagram is the most used cause-and-effect analysis tool in Six Sigma. The cause-and-effect analysis is one of the key tasks in any Six Sigma project.

What Is the History of Root Cause Analysis?

Root cause analysis (RCA) originated in quality management engineering and emerged out of necessity to find the root causes of manufacturing problems and fix them permanently. Sakichi Toyoda, the founder of Toyota, established the first root cause analysis technique — the 5 Whys method as part of the Toyota Production System, developed between 1948 and 1975. Later on, W. Edwards Deming created his quality strategy based on the root cause analysis method.  In 1986 Motorola introduced root cause analysis and quality control practices under the title Six Sigma. In the last 30 years, the analysis technique has been successfully applied to industries outside the manufacturing domain: healthcare, education, etc.

Root Cause Analysis Example

Generally, the goal of root cause analysis, as the name suggests, is to locate the reason for an issue and find a solution to it. This allows you to address the problem at its source, where the underlying cause is present, rather than just treating its symptoms.

A broken ankle, for example, hurts a lot, and drugs won’t fix the ankles; you’ll need a different kind of treatment to promote a healthy healing process. In this illustration, a fractured ankle is an issue, ankle discomfort is the symptom, and damaged bones are the underlying cause. Hence, the discomfort won’t be relieved till the bones are repaired.

This particular illustration only relates to physical health, but what about work? The distinction between addressing a condition’s symptoms and treating them in healthcare is straightforward. What about a challenge at work, though?

It might not be a good idea to only treat the symptoms and think the issue is solved. You need to stop and think about whether there is a more significant and urgent reason—a deeper issue that needs to be fixed there. If you merely address the symptoms, it will only be a matter of time before additional cracks develop and the entire structure collapses. 

Nevertheless, if you dig deep to identify the true source of the issue, you can address the underlying systems and procedures to make it permanently disappear.

Types of Root Causes

There are three fundamental categories of root causes that may affect a situation, including:

  • Physical Causes: these may result from issues with any system’s physical parts, such as hardware failure and equipment malfunction.
  • Human Causes: Human error, brought on by a lack of knowledge and ability to complete a task, is possible.
  • Organizational Causes: This may occur when businesses employ flawed or insufficient systems or procedures, which can lead to instances when complete instructions are given, poor decisions are made, and people and property are handled properly.

What Are the Resources about Root Cause Analysis?

Root cause analysis books, publications, and webcasts will help you understand the method’s fundamentals, find the right tools and techniques to use in your case, and provide a perspective on how effective the technique can be. Some of the most notable resources on root cause analysis are listed below.

  • The ASQ Pocket Guide To Root Cause Analysis, 2013, Bjørn Andersen, Tom Natland Fagerhaug
  • Root Cause Analysis: A Tool for Total Quality Management, 1992, Gaylord F. Anderson, Larry D. Dell, and Paul F. Wilson
  • Root Cause Analysis: A Step-By-Step Guide to Using the Right Tool at the Right Time, 2014, Matthew A. Barsalou
  • Patricia M. Williams (2001), Techniques for root cause analysis, Proceedings (Bayl Univ Med Cent), v. 14(2), 16369607, 10.1080/08998280.2001.11927753. The publication analyses the application of several root cause analysis tools concerning an employee safety event at the Pathology Department in a healthcare facility.
  • Mohammad Javad Ershadi, Rouzbeh Aiassi (2018), Root cause analysis in quality problem solving of research information systems, International Journal of Productivity and Quality Management 24(2):284, 10.1504/IJPQM.2018.091797. The publication analyses the application of RCA in research information systems (RIS) to solve quality problems and define appropriate correction measures.
  • Wendy Groot (2021), Root cause analysis – what do we know?, Maandblad voor Accountancy en Bedrijfseconomie 95(½):87:93, 10.5117/mab.95.60.778. The article explores how audit companies can benefit from the implementation of an adequate root cause analysis process.

RCA Case Studies:

  • Michelle Danyluk, Ph.D., 2019, Root Cause Analysis Case Study. In this case study, the effects of a root cause analysis are explored concerning an issue with fresh produce items.
  • Mark Galley, 2018, NYC helicopter crash — How to conduct a root cause analysis of an incident with multiple factors. The case study examines the root cause of an incident with a helicopter emergency landing. Applying several root case analysis techniques, the case study aims to perform an in-depth cause-and-effect analysis of multiple factors and produce prevention measures.
  • European Organisation For The Safety Of Air Navigation, 2004, Review Of Root Causes Of Accidents Due To Design, EEC Note No. 14/04. The case study examines the validity of a claim that a proportion of accidents (60%) in the aviation, railway, and nuclear fields, have their root causes in design.
  • Duke Okes, 2013, Get the Defects Out of Root Cause Analysis, YouTube. The webcast by ASQ can serve as an introduction to root cause analysis (RCA). The presentation covers terminology, types of root causes, clearly defining a problem, and gathering and analyzing data.
  • Tony Mittiga, 2017, Understanding Root Cause Analysis, YouТube. The webinar uncovers key root cause analysis methodologies used to solve complex organizational issues.
  • Michael Curran-Hays, 2017, Root-Cause Analysis Tools, and How to Use Them, YouTube. The webcast examines the variety of tools to uncover root causes of production issues, making a point of why finding the root cause and resolving it is crucial for production speed and quality.

What Are the 5 Whys of RCA?

The 5 Whys technique is a method for finding solutions to problems that involve repeatedly asking “why?” five times in a row. Every time you inquire as to why a problem occurred, the answer you provide serves as the basis for your subsequent inquiry, which forces you to delve further and further into the root of the problem.

Using the five whys method, your team can concentrate on identifying any issue’s underlying causes. Instead of placing blame on others, it encourages each team member to contribute suggestions for ongoing improvement. It thus gives your team the assurance that it can fix any issue and stop the procedure from failing repeatedly.

However, this method of making informed decisions entails investigating the cause-and-effect connections that underlie a particular issue. The 5 Whys process focuses on countermeasures that aim to prevent the issue from happening again, rather than developing a solution that only addresses a specific symptom.

Conclusion

Root cause analysis assists companies in identifying the root cause of issues, which helps prevent recurring issues from happening. Even though root cause analysis is straightforward, it is not always simple. It takes a lot of data and analysis to analyze a large problem or improve an embedded process. Hence you need the best tools t your disposal.

Root cause analysis tools are crucial for discovering faults and their primary causes. The organization can find a long-lasting solution by determining the root cause. And hence reducing or preventing the likelihood of a future recurrence. Furthermore, RCA is crucial for creating a reasoned strategy for problem-solving.

Solution, Recommendation, and Implementation

Next step upon establishing root causes and their prioritization is finding solutions to the problem and their implementation. Brainstorming is a great way to attempt and come up with a variety of potential solution scenarios. Another approach is interviewing as many people as possible. Gathering input as well as the implementation of the solution requires involvement from everyone. On one hand, every recommendation counts, and on the other, a successful implementation is the one that sticks with everyone affected. 

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