Root Cause Analysis (RCA): Why did the problem occur?

Problem-solving process for identifying “root causes”
Root Cause Analysis (RCA): Why did the problem occur?

Root cause analysis (RCA) is a problem-solving process for identifying “root causes” of what has happened.

Those annoying problems just keep popping up so get that feeling of déjà vu. Those problems keep making an unwelcome appearance again and again, daily, weekly, or even monthly.

RCA can help by not focusing on the solution first. But addressing the 'why' does this keep happening?

The prime objective of the root cause analysis is to understand the underlying cause of the problem before implementing solutions so you don't cause more problems.

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Step-by-Step Guide Root Cause Analysis Process

This simple technique can help diagnose a problem that has negatively impacted business.
Document and define the event, along with a timeline leading up to what went wrong. Who was involved in the procedure and what processes were they using?
Evidence: Must work with evidence-based information.

  • People: Who has knowledge of the problem?
  • Procedures & Policies: What procedures were involved? Were procedures followed?
  • Systems & Technology: Did technology or systems have a negative affect in events? What role did it play?
  • Workplace Environment: Scheduling pressures?

Problem Statement: Define the problem. Describe the problem, when and where the problem occurred, and the impact it had on the business.
Map Out Process: Map out the chain of events
Cause and Effect: How the problem actually occurred.

  • What caused the effect?
  • When the cause occurs, will it always have the same effect?

Solutions: Verify root cause with data. Develop steps and solutions for prevention. Controlling causes

  • Effectiveness: Does it address the target cause?
  • Implementable: Can the solution be implemented?
  • Additional Problems: Make sure it will not cause additional problems.


  • Pilot implementation
  • Controlled monitoring plan
  • Analysis results

Understand 'Why' before Implementing a Solution

Instinctively we try to find a solution rather than identify and address the root cause of the problem. This method, root cause analysis doesn’t necessarily result in the best long-term results.

RCA can help answer the question, why the problem happened in the first place. Identify the underlying causes and find an appropriate solution.

Sakichi Toyoda invented the Five Whys question asking method to find the root cause of events, and especially failure points.

Several methodologies have a similar approach like 5 ws and DMAIC all-important parts of six sigma methodology of process improvement and continuous improvement a great way to eliminate business faults.

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