Root Cause Analysis (RCA) is the process of identifying causal factors using a structured approach with techniques designed to provide a focus for identifying and resolving problems. Tools that assist groups or individuals in identifying the root causes of problems are known as root cause analysis tools. Every equipment failure happens for a number of reasons. There is a definite progression of actions and consequences that lead to failure. Root Cause Analysis is a step-by-step method that leads to the discovery of faults or root cause. An RCA investigation traces the cause and effect trail from the end failure back to the root cause. It is much like a detective solving a crime.
It is an event that hid in the smooth flow of the process which is termed as an issue and the problems that occur much time in the same event over a period of time are termed as a problem. For the smooth functioning of the processes, it is necessary to mitigate the occurrence of the problem. To find the problem In root cause analysis, finding workarounds for an issue is an immediate fix and helps in avoiding business outages. Getting into the roots of the process helps in finding and removing the main cause of the defects.
Every issue comes with its own background and has a different theory attached to its occurrence. The RCA helps in getting the exact reason for the problem.RCA should be performed as soon as the defect or variance is detected to avoid major problems in the future. It’s recommended to involve the stakeholders while conducting the RCA. Involving stakeholders helps in getting away from the fictionalization of the facts.
Techniques of Root cause Analysis
- 5 why
The 5 Why method is simply asking the question “Why” enough times until you get past all the symptoms of a problem and down to the root cause. The 5 Why method is often used during the Analyze phase of the DMAIC process and the Plan phase of PDCA activities. It is often used in coordination with other analysis tools such as the Cause and Effect Diagram but can also be used as a standalone tool.
The 5 Whys is a technique used in the Analyze phase of the Six Sigma DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) methodology. It is a great Six Sigma tool that does not involve data segmentation, hypothesis testing, regression, or other advanced statistical tools, and in many cases can be completed without a data collection plan.
5 Why is most effective when the answers come from people who have hands-on experience of the process being examined. By repeating the question “Why” you can drive down to the root cause of the problem.
5 why exercise is the first step to form the team then define the problem to them and ask why to the team, determine and implement corrective actions. The 5 why exercise should be performed by a cross-functional Team (CFT). These tools were available for use in problem-solving and continuous improvement activities.
- Tabular Method
If desired, the team can go one step further and use a decision table to determine how best to respond to the root causes that were uncovered. Use of this tool helps prevent the knee-jerk reaction: the memo or procedure change resulting from each error, regardless of its severity. Often, when errors occur, the only thing required is to monitor for reoccurrence.
It is a process to prepare a checklist or table of actions related to the currently running processes in any organization. In case of failure, the master checklist is referred to find deviation. This process is limited to simple and direct actions.
- Fishbone Diagram
A cause and effect diagram often called a “fishbone” diagram, can help in brainstorming to identify possible causes of a problem and in sorting ideas into useful categories. The root cause analysis process is also known as the “Ishikawa Diagram”, the “Fishbone Diagram,” and the “cause-and-effect diagram.”
A fishbone diagram is a visual way to look at cause and effect. It is a more structured approach than some other tools available for brainstorming causes of a problem (e.g., the Five Whys tool). The problem or effect is displayed at the head or mouth of the fish. Possible contributing causes are listed on the smaller “bones” under various cause categories.
These tools make it possible to identify all of the roots (basic causes) in a retrospective approach, or, all of the potential effects (possible outcomes) in a prospective approach. Ishikawa identified five (5) key areas that occur repeatedly in either type of analysis:
- PESTLE Technique
PESTLE analysis is a framework for an organization to track the market that it operates in and is popular in strategic analysis and market research. PESTLE is often used alongside SWOT analysis but concentrates mainly on external factors that may affect the business’s current and future direction.
Is an external analysis designed to examine many external elements affecting a business and its operations?
Political, Economical, Sociological, Technological, Legal, Environmental
PESTLE method is not used in-depth, but it does serve as an example of how it can be used to identify factors affecting the project of the organization.
- MOST Analysis Technique
These are the four tiers in MOST Analysis:
- Mission: defines what business the organization is in and what it is intending to achieve
- Objectives: key goals against which the organization’s achievement can be measured
- Strategy: the medium to the long-term approach chosen to achieve organizational objectives
- Tactics: the short-term, operational plans and projects that will implement the strategy
Ultimately, problem-solving is vital in any business, and depending on the type of industry may be something that needs to be carried out on a daily basis. For other organizations, daily problems may not occur but problem-solving can still help with ongoing improvement and future decision making.
Root cause analysis is a great tool for figuring out where something went wrong. We typically use RCA as a way to diagnose problems but it can be equally as effective to find the root cause of success. If we find the cause of success or overachievement or early deadline, it’s rarely a bad idea to find out the root cause of why things are going well. This kind of analysis can help prioritize and preemptively protect key factors and we might be able to translate success in one area of business to success in another area.