Root Cause Analysis

‘Root Cause Analysis’ is also known as ‘RCA’.

It is a method that is used to deal with a problem, error or failure by finding the ‘root cause’ or reason for origin of the problem.

The solution to the problem is then found by correcting or removing this ‘root cause’ and, hence prevent the problem from repeating.

Hence, ‘Root Cause Analysis’ is a simple systematic process that uses common sense to help in measuring and documenting the process of identifying, understanding, and resolving problem through finding the ‘root causes’ of the problem.



Why Root Cause Analysis

  • Most of the times, people as well as organizations are interested in getting the problem at hand solved through quick fixes.
  • As long as the problem gets handled in the present time and the work gets done, most people as well as organizations do not bother about the future.
  • They do not think whether they have eliminated the problem from its roots and stopped it from recurring.
  • Such a short-term focus attitude towards problem solving does not benefit the organization in terms of profitability as well as growth.
  • Both people and organization need to look at problems in terms of eliminating the causes of problems rather than working on removing the impact of the problems.
  • This can be done by drilling down, digging deep to reach the core of the problem and finding the root cause of the problem.
  • You can then focus on removing this root cause which will serve as a preventative measure to prevent the problem from recurring.
  • Conducting a ‘Root Cause Analysis’ will help you to get to the root cause of a problem by following a series of logical steps through a proper defined process.
  • RCA will help you to adopt a structured approach to problem solving and prevent the problem from occurring again.



Steps to Conduct Root Cause Analysis

Specify the Problem Situation

  • The first step towards conducting any ‘Root Cause Analysis’ study is to properly and specifically define the problem.
  • You should use the ‘SMART’ rules to define your problem.
  • So, ensure that you define the problem in:
    • Specific,
    • Measurable,
    • Action-oriented,
    • Realistic and
    • Time-constrained manner.
  • Defining the problem using the ‘SMART’ rules will ensure that you have first of all identified the problem correctly and have looked at it from all possible angles.
  • This also makes sure that the defined problem is clear and accurate and you can then conduct a ‘Root Cause Analysis’ process without having to later realize that you began at the wrong place.
  • Defining the problem will also pave the path as to how the RCA will proceed from this first step forward.

Understand the Problem Situation

  • Defining the problem was the first step.
  • In this second step, you will make sure that what you have understood about the problem is accurate or not based on hard-facts or data.
  • This step ensures that your personal bias or perceptions do not misinterpret the problem wrongly.
  • So, in this step, you will check each aspect of the problem rationally and diligently.
  • To do this, you need to find real data about the problem, check the information you have about the problem, and obtain a clear understanding of the real issues faced in the problem situation.
  • You can use brainstorming very effectively in this step to check each piece of information related to the problem.

Take Prompt Action Steps

  • By now, you have specifically and clearly defined the problem and have also understood it completely and accurately.
  • The next step is to take immediate action steps to resolve the problem at least in the present day.
  • You can do this by taking temporary counter-measures to resolve the problem temporarily and start getting the work done.
  • Remember, that this step just offers the temporary quick fix to the problem for the time being and permanent steps will need to be taken to completely eliminate the problem from recurring.

Take Preventative Action Steps

  • You have taken temporary action steps to overcome the problem through quick fixes.
  • The next step is to not find the corrective action that needs to be taken to completely eliminate the problem and stop it from recurring.
  • For this, you need to dig deep and find the most probable underlying root causes of the problem.
  • Then, after you have identified the primary root causes that have caused the problem, you need to decide on preventative or corrective steps or measures that you can take to eliminate these root causes.
  • Taking corrective actions will definitely help you to prevent the problem from recurring in the future.

Establish the Solution

  • The last step of conducting a ‘Root Cause Analysis’ is to clearly establish and confirm the solution to a particular problem.
  • You have taken certain corrective or preventative measures that helped eliminate the root cause causing a particular problem.
  • After achieving success through such steps, it is crucial that you identify and establish the success of the adopted approach.
  • You will then need to identify the rules or change in standard procedures or processes that need to be implemented so that a particular problem as well as similar problems can be prevented from happening.
  • You should always keep in mind that this is one of the most crucial steps of RCA that most people tend to ignore or miss.



Root Cause Analysis for Boosting Productivity

  • It is very important to keep your productivity at your maximum in whatever profession you might be. Root Cause Analysis can help you boost productivity by identifying the root causes that hamper your productivity. Follow these steps to boost productivity through a RCA:

Step 1: Maintain a log of your tasks for a week

  • Make a list of all your tasks/activities.
  • Also, list the time that you would require to complete each task/activity.
  • This list will help you get a true picture of your work week.

Step 2: Analyze your tasks

  • Categorize your tasks into ‘high-priority’ and ‘low-priority’ tasks.
  • High priority tasks are your core jobs, those that produce a return or where those which only you have the skills to perform and cannot be delegated.
  • Low priority tasks are menial jobs that others can do on your behalf and hence can be delegated to support staff.
  • Observe and notice how much time you actually spend on such low priority tasks.
  • Keeping a tab on such non-productive activities will help you get rid of time wasted on such tasks that provide no return to your productivity.

Step 3: Delegate non-productive activities

  • The next step is to delegate as many low priority tasks as possible to others.
  • Make sure that you train your support staff, wherever training is required for completing the delegated task.
  • Avoid being tempted to do any unproductive activity as this will pull down your productivity.

Step 4: Calculate the time required for remaining low priority tasks

  • Now, calculate the time that you will spend on any remaining low priority task that you could not delegate.
  • This will help to schedule your tasks in such a manner that you can make maximum use of your productive time.
  • Do not spend a lot of time on such unproductive tasks nor spend much energy on them.
  • Try and divide such tasks into small chunks and set aside some specific time in a day or week to complete them.

Step 5: Prioritize your remaining tasks

  • Now, turn your attention to tasks that are productive and bring the most reward.
  • Prioritize your tasks and concentrate most of your time on a few high-priority tasks.
  • This will help to maximize your productivity by concentrating on productive tasks and delegate those activities that have a low return.
  • Delegating these tasks will help reduce your stress and do less work for greater return.
  • So, you can implement the ‘Root Cause Analysis’ to achieve success in life, maximizing your productivity, better time management etc.

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