Best Root Cause Analysis Tools & Methods

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By Jack

Unexpected problems could arise in any process or team. However, these problems are symptoms of some significant issues. It is quite an easy solution to fix the problem quickly. But, it is not going to protect the work process against recurring mistakes. That’s why you require focusing on looking for the root problem and resolve it appropriately.

Here, we have come up with the different root cause analysis methods. These root cause analysis tools will help you in locating the root problem as well as different ways to protect your system from recurring failures and mistakes. So, let’s get started with the best root cause analysis methods. But before that, you should know what the root cause analysis is!

What is RCA?

RCA stands for Root Cause Analysis, which is a problem-solving method. The main aim of this method is to identify the root cause of incidents or problems. It is based on the belief that issues can be resolved by solving the root causes. The root cause analysis methods are effective than other tools that only work to tackle the problem symptoms.

With the help of corrective measures, one can address the underlying reasons in order to minimize the problem recurrences. However, it is a perfect ideal that a single action will avert the recurrence of the problem. That’s why RCA or Root Cause Analysis is treated as an iterative technique.

The root cause analysis tools are best for ongoing improvement. If you have not used the root cause analysis methods before, you should opt for this effective way to solve and identify issues. If you gain experience with RCA, its regular use could change everything to proactive from reactive. So, use these methods if you come across an incident or problem.

On the other hand, RCA does not follow a strict methodology. It comprises of different processes, philosophies, and tools. The Root Cause Analysis features five approaches, which include:

1. Root cause analysis based on safety:

Healthcare, safety, and accident analyses are its origins.

2. Root cause analysis on the basis of production:

The area of industrial manufacturing and quality control are its origins.

3. Root cause analysis on the basis of the process:

Business and production processes are its follow-ups.

4. Root cause analysis on the basis of failure:

Maintenance and engineering are its origins.

5. Root cause analysis on the basis of the system:

It is a combination of all the approaches as mentioned above. It draws ideas from risk management, system analysis, and change management.

However, there is no exact definition of the objectives associated with these approaches. These approaches come with basic universal principles. Hence, there is a simple process of carrying out an RCA. Its common process is explained right below.

1. Explain the problem:

For this, you have to employ both quantitative and qualitative information. This includes size, timing, nature, and locations regarding the questioning results.

2. Accumulate evidence and data carefully:

It needs to be done along the time of incidents. It goes on until you come across the primary reason. Here, you need to record action, condition, passivity, and behavior.

3. Keep asking ‘Why’:

To examine the effects and causes related to every step, ‘why’ is really significant.

4. Look for the causes contained by informal factors:

It is quite essential to classify causes. It even includes the fundamental causes.

5. Watch out for other factors:

If you have come across multiple reasons, you need to document that. It is best to record these causes sequentially for further reference. So, identify all the harmful factors if any.

6. Opt for improvement measures:

After all this, you need to watch out for improvement measures as well as corrective measures. It is to make sure that the recurrence prevention works with sufficient certainty.

7. Look for effective solutions:

It is best to look for effective solutions so as to avoid recurrence of the cause. All team members should agree to the main solution. One must combine these solutions with the set objectives and goals. Plus, bear in mind to not create any unforeseen or new problems.

8. Apply the solutions:

Now, it is time for you to apply the corrective actions or solutions that the consensus created or made.

9. Examine the effectiveness:

You should even examine the effectiveness of the corrective measures or solutions very closely. If required, make adjustments to the root cause analysis technique.

10. Watch out for problem-solving methods:

It is advised to be familiar with other effective methods for problem-solving as well s prevention.

11. Address the causes:

After identifying the cause, you need to once again look for the harmful factors. So, follow these steps to resolve the problem successfully and completely. Now, know about different root cause analysis methods below.

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Best Root Cause Analysis Tools

There are various root cause analysis methods, as well as tools available. Here, we have listed some of the well-known root cause analysis tools.

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#1 Root Cause Analysis Tools – Barrier Analysis

The most effective root cause analysis tool is Barrier analysis. Most of the industrial sectors employ this kind of analysis. The technique identifies the energy flow while focuses on possible causes for these flows. It studies why obstacles could not prevent the flows from creating damages.

#2 Root Cause Analysis Tools – Current Reality Tree

Eliahu M. Goldratt developed this powerful and complex root cause analysis method. It represents all the informal factors in the form of a tree. It employs logical rules. This technique begins with a record of unwanted factors that we come across. These factors lead us to the fundamental causes.

#3 Root Cause Analysis Tools – Fishbone Diagram

Fishbone diagram is also called the Ishikawa diagram. This method is preferred by project managers to carry out a root cause analysis technique.

#4 Root Cause Analysis Tools – Change Analysis

This root cause analysis technique is commonly used for accidents and problems. It demonstrates different perspectives related to the problem.

#5 Root Cause Analysis Tools – Kepner Tregoe Method

This method is one of the effect root cause analysis methods. It is based on the facts, where one excludes the possible reasons so as to look for the real issue.

#6 Root Cause Analysis Tools – 5 Whys

It is a Japanese method for analysis, where people ask five “Whys.” Sakichi Toyoda developed this technique. It is used to find out the real cause of the issues related to the manufacturing process for Toyota Motors.

#7 Root Cause Analysis Tools – RPR Problem Diagnosis

This IITL-aligned diagnosis is designed especially for determining the root cause for IT-based problems.

Out of all the Root Cause Analysis methods, the most effective one is the 5 Whys technique. This technique helps in finding the root cause effectively. Let’s know about this technique in detail below.

5 Whys Technique

The method ‘5 Whys’ is a unit of the production system of Toyota. It came into being through special efforts by Sakichi Toyoda, who was a Japanese industrialist and inventor. This method turned out to be a significant unit of the philosophy ‘Lean.’

According to Taiichi Ohno, the main origin of Toyota’s technical theory is to put forward five times whenever they find an issue. After repeating the problem five times, the basic nature and the solution of the problem become crystal clear.

To successfully implement this technique, users need to take a learned decision. You should be aware of what is happening at the workspace. So, the process of root cause analysis must include users having practical experience.

How to implement 5 Whys

When you apply this innovative 5 Whys method, you search out the core of the issue and fix that problem accordingly. This technique shows that the problem source could even be unexpected. Sometimes, problems that look like more of a technical one are actually process or human issues. That’s the reason it is essential to find and eliminate the root cause if you really like to avoid repetition of failures.

Steps on implementing 5 Whys:

“5 Whys” helps you in achieving improvement at various levels of an organization. So, follow the steps given below to get started with it.

Step 1: Build a team

Initially, you need to bring together a team of members from diverse departments. Each representation should be aware of the process they are going to deal with. With people from various departments, you will have different views and aspects. It even enables you to have enough information to form a decision.

Step 2: Discuss the issue

Next, you should discuss the issue with other team members and form a clear statement of the problem. This even helps in defining the reach of the problem. To find a valuable solution, you have to keep your focus steady.

Step 3: Ask Whys

Now, appoint a person to assist the entire process. The team leader will continue to ask questions to keep all focused. However, the answers should be real-data or fact-based. This facilitator will ask “Whys” till the root cause of the problem becomes clear.

Meanwhile, there should not be too many questions as it will create unreasonable complaints and suggestions. In some cases, there can be over one root reason. If that’s the case, you need to look for sub-reasons for every reason. It assists in resolving organization issues.

Step 4: Resolve the issue

After detecting the root cause, you can take the necessary measures to eliminate the problem. For this, all team members should look for the most effective solution. Plus, take steps to protect the system from recurring issues.

Once made the decision, one member should look after the entire process while applying the correct actions. After some time, the team has to meet once again and examine if their measures had a great result. Otherwise, you have to repeat the process.

Lastly, you should document the whole case and send the same to the organization. On sharing this data, you will be able to offer an insightful impression of different problems that others could face. Besides, they will know how to eliminate these problems.

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