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Root Cause Analysis

Why Root Cause Analysis?

Root cause analysis is about digging beneath the symptom of a problem. Most organizations mistakenly use the term “root cause” to identify only one main cause. Focusing on a single cause can limit the solutions set, resulting in the exclusion of viable solutions. Root cause investigation provides a simple visual explanation of all the causes that contributed to the incident.

The root is the system of causes that reveals all of the different options for solutions. When using Root cause investigation, the word root in root cause analysis refers to possible cause or causes that are beneath the symptom. The output can result in multiple opportunities to mitigate risk and prevent problems.

If you find the root causes you can solve the problem!

What is Root Cause Analysis? 

The root cause is the core issue that sets in motion the entire cause-and-effect reaction that ultimately leads to the problem(s). 

Root cause analysis (RCA) is a systematic process that is part of a more general problem-solving process and an integral part of continuous improvement. Because of this, root cause analysis is one of the core building blocks in an organization’s continuous improvement efforts. It's important to note that root cause analysis in itself will not produce any results. It must be made part of a larger problem-solving effort for quality improvement.  

Root cause analysis is part of a more general problem-solving process and an integral part of continuous improvement. Because of this, root cause analysis is one of the core building blocks in an organization’s continuous improvement efforts. It's important to note that root cause analysis in itself will not produce any results. It must be made part of a larger problem-solving effort for quality improvement. 

 

Data Preparation for Root Cause Analysis  

An effective RCA is based on decision making and this depends on how effective you are managing data before it’s time to analyze it. To support root cause analysis within a problem-solving process, the team should follow these steps to get data for decision making: 

  1. Clarify the question you want to answer. 
  2. Identify the information necessary to answer the question. 
  3. Determine what information is available and what is not available. 
  4. Acquire the information that is not available for analytics 
    • Identify the sources to get the data 
    • Digitization of data only existing in paper, required to understand the history of causes and nature of the problem 
    • Define the process for data collection, for further analysis 
  5. Collect the required data 
  6. Create KPIS´s and reports for data visualization  
  7. Evaluate the data quality 
  8. Analyze the KPIS´s and reports 
  9. Decide for the root causes based on accurate data 
  10. Solve the problem. 

 

Why Root Cause Analysis? 

Root cause analysis is about digging beneath the symptom of a problem.  

Most organizations mistakenly use the term “root cause” to identify only one main cause. Focusing on a single cause can limit the solutions set, resulting in the exclusion of viable solutions. Root cause investigation provides a simple visual explanation of all the causes that contributed to the incident. The root is the system of causes that reveals all of the different options for solutions.  

Caixa de TextoCaixa de TextoCaixa de TextoWhen using Root cause investigation, the word root in root cause analysis refers to possible cause or causes that are beneath the symptom. The output can result in multiple opportunities to mitigate risk and prevent problems. 

If you find the root causes you can solve the problem! 

 

How to conduct a Root Cause Analysis 

A typical design of a root cause analysis in an organization might follow these steps: 

  • A decision is made to form a small team to conduct the root cause analysis. 
  • 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 
  • 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. 
  • 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. 
  • 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. 
  • 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. 

 

Approaches to problem solving 

There are several approaches to problem solving. All of them are effective if properly used. 

We will highlight 8D and A3 Report. 

 

8D stands for the 8 disciplines or the 8 critical steps for solving problems. It is a highly disciplined and effective scientific approach for resolving chronic and recurring problems. 

The Eight Disciplines of Problem Solving (8D) is a problem-solving methodology designed to find the root cause of a problem, devise a short-term fix and implement a long-term solution to prevent recurring problems. When it’s clear that your product is defective or isn’t satisfying your customers, an 8D is an excellent first step to improving Quality and Reliability. 

 

Ford Motor Company developed this problem-solving methodology, then known as Team Oriented Problem Solving (TOPS), in the 1980s. The early usage of 8D proved so effective that it was adopted by Ford as the primary method of documenting problem solving efforts, and the company continues to use 8D today. 

8D has become very popular among manufacturers because it is effective and reasonably easy to teach. Below you’ll find the benefits of an 8D, when it is appropriate to perform and how it is performed. 

The 8D process has Root Cause Analysis (RCA) imbedded within it. All problem-solving techniques include RCA within their structure. The steps and techniques within 8D which correspond to Root Cause Analysis are as follows: 

  • Problem Symptom is quantified and converted to “Object and Defect” 
  • Problem Symptom is converted to Problem Statement using Repeated Whys 
  • Possible and Potential Causes are collected using deductive tools (i.e. Fishbone or Affinity Diagram) 
  • Problem Statement is converted into Problem Description using Is / Is Not 
  • Problem Description reduces the number of items on the deductive tool (from step 3) 
  • Comparative Analysis between the Is and Is Not items (note changes and time) 
  • Root Cause theories are developed from remaining possible causes on deductive tool and coupled with changes from Is / Is Not 
  • Compare theories with current data and develop experiments for Root Cause Verification 
  • Test and confirm the Root Causes 

 

The A3 Report is a very useful problem solving and continuous improvement tool.  It was first used by Toyota and is quickly gaining popularity in industry today. Companies must start to view problems as opportunities for improvement. The A3 Report format allows the entire problem identification, clarification, analysis and resolution steps to be documented on one single sheet of paper. 

The A3 Report is based upon the Plan, Do, Check, Act (PDCA) Method. The PDCA process is sometimes referred to as the Deming Wheel or Deming Circle. The A3 Report incorporates this basic premise to problem solving and continuous improvement. 

The A3 Report format can be used to more effectively communicate all of the pertinent information with greater visual impact. While the A3 Report is an effective communication tool, it is actually much more valuable as a problem solving and critical thinking tool that can be used to drive continuous improvement. The A3 Report fosters a problem solving / continuous improvement mindset within the participating team members. It is an excellent tool for managers and supervisors to share problem solving techniques with their teams. With resources being limited, completion of a formal A3 Report may not be applicable to every problem. Its use should be determined based upon the size of the problem and its impact on the business or organization. The A3 Report and the A3 way of thinking are valuable tools for Lean initiatives and for integrating a problem-solving culture throughout the organization. 

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