What Is a Root Cause Analysis?
Root Cause Analysis (RCA) is a process to understand the real causes behind a problem in order to learn why that problem arose in the first place.
By collecting data and using different RCA techniques, often in combination, you are able to identify the actual cause of a problem rather than focusing on and constantly addressing the symptoms. Once the cause of the problem is identified, you can then form an action plan to counter the contributing factors in order to prevent it from occurring again.
What Is the Purpose of a Root Cause Analysis?
The primary purpose of the root cause analysis process is to analyse a problem or sequence of events in order to identify what happened, why it happened, and what can be done to prevent it from happening again.
3 Basic Types of Root Causes
There are three basic types of root causes that can have a potential impact on a problem:
- Physical causes: A tangible item fails, generally plant, equipment or materials.
- Human causes: One person or several team members did something incorrectly. Human error will often lead to a physical cause.
- Organisational causes: When a system or process that an organisation uses to do their jobs is faulty, leading to error, downtime or poor quality of finished goods
How to Perform a Root Cause Analysis in 5 Steps
In order to go through the RCA process, you must be familiar with the following five steps:
- Define the problem.
- Gather data.
- Identify causal factors.
- Determine the root cause(s).
- Recommend and implement solutions.
5 Popular Root Cause Analysis Methods
The goal of RCA is to recognise all the underlying causes of a problem. Using an analysis method is a useful tool to accomplish this task. Five popular root cause analysis methods are:
- The five whys
- Change analysis
- Failure mode and effects analysis
- Fishbone diagram
- Pareto analysis
Want to Learn More About Root Cause Analysis?
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