Root Cause Analysis Techniques

 In Problem Solving, Root cause Analysis

Quick Explanation of What Root Cause Analysis Does

Common problems are the best way to understand root cause analysis. If we feel sick or have trouble at work, we will see a doctor to determine the root cause. We will ask a mechanic to diagnose the cause of our car’s problems if it stops running. We’ll investigate why our business is performing poorly in a particular area.

Root cause analysis (RCA), is the process of identifying the root causes of problems and finding the appropriate solutions. RCA is a method that aims to prevent and solve underlying problems, rather than treating symptoms or putting out fires.

root cause process

Root Cause Analysis tools, which are used to improve quality and continuously improve on a problem, can be described as methods that help identify and solve it. Although you can take a solitary approach to solving problems, these tools add structure and intention. Some tools are visualisation tools that help you identify root causes and present information in a new way. Others help you see beyond the causal factors and find the root cause. They all help you see things in a different light and dig below the surface.

Five Root Cause Analysis Tools

1. Pareto Chart

Pareto charts combine a histogram, bar chart and a line graph to group the cost or frequency of different problems in order to indicate their relative importance. As you move left to right, the lines show cumulative percentages or totals. The bars indicate frequency in descending order.

Pareto charts are a report generated by layered process audit software. It lists the top seven failed audit questions for each facility. To verify compliance with standards, you can perform layered process audits (LPAs). LPAs can identify process variations that lead to defects. Pareto charts are a powerful reporting tool for analysing LPA findings.

Joseph Juran, quality pioneer, described Pareto charts as one of seven tools that define quality. Pareto’s law (also known as the 80/20 rule) states that 20% of inputs will drive 80% of results. Pareto charts are based upon this law.

20% of the causes are responsible for 80% of the problems. This is Pareto analysis: 80/20. From the perspective of identifying problems, you can say that 20% of the causes can solve 80% of them.

2. The 5. Whys?

The 5 Whys method uses a series questions to dig into each layer of a problem. The idea behind the 5 Whys is that every time you ask why, your answer will become the basis for the next why. This tool is simple and useful for problems that don’t require advanced statistics. However, it’s not recommended for more complex problems.

You can dig deeper into the problem by asking “Why?” five times. This will allow you to discover that the answers are interrelated. This will allow you to see the true cause of the problem and strategise your approach.

This technique can be used to analyse more closely the results of a Pareto analysis.

3. Fishbone Diagram

A fishbone diagram is a way to organise possible causes into different categories that are related to the problem. A fishbone diagram is also known as a cause-and effect or Ishakawa diagram. It may include multiple sub-causes that branch off from each identified category.

A fishbone diagram, also known as the Ishikawa diagram or root cause analysis, is an effective tool. It is similar to the fault tree diagram and is named after its shape, a fishbone. This allows you to organise causes into sub-categories such as methods, measurements, materials, and many other to make it easier to determine the cause.

4. Scatter Plot Diagram

Scatter diagram or scatter plot uses two data points to reveal relationships between variables. Scatter plots are quantitative methods that can be used to determine if two variables are related, such as testing the causes of your fishbone diagram. (

A scatter diagram can be made by simply plotting the independent variable (or suspected cause), on the x-axis and the dependent variable (the effect), on the y-axis. If you see a straight line or curve in the pattern, it is likely that the variables are correlated. You can then proceed to regression analysis or correlation analysis.

5. Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA).

FMEA (failure mode and effects analysis) is a method that is used for identifying the problems within a system. Many companies use the RCA tool to identify areas that are not working properly and fix them. This tool also determines how often the failure has occurred, what actions were taken by the organisation to prevent it from happening again, and which areas have been successful. This tool is used every time a new product or process is created.

FMEA (Failure mode and Effect Analysis) is a technique used in product or process design to identify potential failures or defects. A FMEA chart shows:

  • Failures, potential consequences and causes
  • Current controls to avoid each type of failure
  • You can calculate a risk priority number for further action by calculating severity (S), occurrence (O) and detection ratings (D)

This method can be applied to process analysis and is known as process failure mode analysis (PFMEA). Many manufacturers use PFMEA results to answer questions about process audits. This problem-solving tool helps to reduce risk at source.

Whatever tool you use to solve the problem, root cause analysis will be the first step. The next step after identifying the root cause is to implement a solution. Regular checks will ensure that you are not losing the gains and continue your efforts for continuous improvement.

Root cause analysis is an integral part in continuous improvement and part of a larger problem-solving process. Root cause analysis is an integral part of continuous improvement in organisations. Root cause analysis by itself won’t produce any results. It must be part of larger quality improvement efforts.

For more information on training in this area contact our team. We can tailor a session to suit your team and needs.

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