Root Cause Analysis

This post shares details about how one can find out root causes of any problem in a structured manner.

Root Cause Analysis

Suppose you are conducting an internal audit of a hospital. After checking all the registers and overseeing the physical verification of assets and stock, you find a discrepancy in the books of accounts.

In order to locate the underlying problem, you need to delve deeper and conduct a thorough and penetrating investigation of all the vouchers, files, documents, and reports and re-verify the adherence to necessary compliance.

While conducting a Root Cause Analysis, you trace the transaction trail and data entry records and find that a simple error of omission has set off a domino effect, which, in turn, misrepresented the entire books of records.

Now, you, as an internal auditor, can provide a true and fair view of the financial statements, thanks to the RCA techniques that enabled you to identify the mix-up.

That is why RCA is recognized as a part of Total Quality Management (TQM) or any other Quality Management Initiative.

The wind power company Clipper Windpower recovered a million dollars after conducting a Root Cause Analysis that revealed issues with turbine failure in the icy-cold winter climatic conditions.

It redesigned the functioning of the machine, revamped its testing metrics, and adopted new strategies for future development.

R.L. Polk & Co. conducted a Root Cause Analysis to improve customer support by speedy redressing of grievances and issues.

A process improvement team remodelled the architecture to serve the customers better and achieve operational excellence.

Many techniques like the following are used to conduct RCAs and solve problems.

The 5 Why's Technique

The 5 Why's Technique:

Made popular by Toyota in the 70s, this strategy involves every answer having to deal with a ‘why’ question that, in turn, prompts another ‘why’ question, and it goes on until a solution is found. 

Fish-Bone Analysis

Fish-Bone Analysis or Ishikawa Diagram:

Developed by Dr. Kaoru Ishikawa, this visual tool takes the form of a skeleton of a fish, and it is also known as the Cause and Effect diagram because of its ability to streamline the process of identification of problems.   

Pareto Analysis

Pareto Analysis:

Widely used in statistics and mathematical applications, this technique involves maneuvering through several causes and then identifying the one having the most veritable impact.

It is based on the 80/20 rule, The 80/20 Principle states that 80% of outcomes (or outputs) result from 20% of all causes (or inputs) for any given event.   

Failure mode and effects Analysis

Failure mode and effects Analysis:

FMEA is used to detect failures within a particular system. Faulty parts of a certain process can be corrected using this tool. 

Scatter Plot Analysis

Scatter Plot Analysis:

Discrepancies between variables can be discovered using a pair of data points using this method.

Scattered between two axes X and Y, the cause and effect can be easily understood using regression or correlation analysis. 


Why is it Crucial for any Professional Environment?

RCA is useful in every type of professional environment. This is because can identify the origins of the problem with a specific set of steps tools & techniques. It helps to trace or trackback to reasons plaguing the problem – which helps in discovering where actually the problem started and how it grew into the symptom you’re now facing.

Determine what happened.

Determine why it happened.

Figure out what to do to reduce the likelihood that it will happen again.   

Root Cause Analysis remains to be an integral part of every industry and profession since time immemorial and will continue to be, regardless of the changes that every profession undergoes.

A prospective manager of any operations in any industry should have a trained eye for root cause analysis not only to deliver instant solutions in any area of the workplace but also to understand how things can be improved for the better from as they stand now.

Hence it is a much-desired skill in the armoury of every professional in any field wanting to rise up the ranks of the professional ladder fast.

At the end of the day, what separates a successful professional from the rest is the acute insights they bring to the table which actually pave the way for growth for any organization.

If you want to grow in your field of operations, then RCA is a skill set that will take you a long way.

Root cause analysis
uses scientific solutions to resolve real-world problems thus making the incumbent of this very skill an asset to any organization.

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Categories: : Operational Excellence

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