RCA Program Dashboard

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Brian Hughes, Senior VP

February 27, 2018

Like any other process, your root cause analysis (RCA) program requires periodic reporting to help you stay on track.  Developing an RCA Program Dashboard can help.  Here are some ideas:

RCA Volume


For a given period, track the following:

  • RCAs Opened
  • RCAs Closed
  • RCAs In Process


The number of RCAs opened and RCAs closed span the entire period.  In some cases, RCAs closed will have been opened in previous periods.  And some of the RCAs opened in the current period will still be in process at the end, to be closed in a future period.  But the “closing ratio” of opens to closes provides insight into resources required.  For instance, if you are opening more RCAs than are being closed, you may have a resource constraint.  Examining the closing ratio trend over time will tell you whether your caseload is a temporary anomaly, or a new-normal, thereby providing insight into staffing requirements.  The number of RCAs in Process provides a point-in-time look at what is currently in the pipeline and provides an indication of throughput velocity.  For instance, if you opened 15 RCAs in a month, closed 18 RCAs, and have a current in-process count of 50 RCAs, you will want to take a closer look at what is (or is not) going on!

Example RCA Volume

  Q3 2017 Q4 2017 Change
RCAs Opened 14 27 +13
RCAs Closed 8 26 +14
RCAs in Progress, end of Q4 9 16 +7

 

Return on Investment (ROI)


We track three numbers to report ROI:

  • Problem Impact:  The total financial impact of all problems.
  • Cost of Solutions:  The total cost of all approved solutions.
  • Cost of Investigation:  The total cost of investigating problems.

These figures should be documented for each RCA.  For periodic reporting, aggregate all RCAs closed during the period together and compare.  It should look something like this graph:

Example RCA Return on Investment Chart
One way to read this graph:  
“We experienced $5,500,000 in losses in Q4, we authorized an additional $300,000 to mitigate future similar losses, and we spent $50,000 investigating to make sure that our solutions were really the best things we could do.”

Be sure to include qualitative information as well.  Some problems have negative impacts that don’t translate into money.  These should also be reported.  An example would be something like this:  “After spending $25,000 establishing the ‘New Employee Mentor’ program, all employees and supervisors report a noticeable and positive impact on morale.”

Event Location, Type Frequency, and Impact

It’s important to document where events occurred as well as frequency and severity.  The following table is one way to report this information:


Locations (by impact)

Location Count Impact
Western Region 12 $3,250,000
Central Region 8 $750,000
Eastern Region 6 $1,000,000
Total 26 $5,500,000

 

You can do the same with event Type:

Types (by impact)

Type Count Impact
Operations 10 $3,850,000
Quality 8 $750,000
EHS 4 $1,000,000
Reliability/Maintenance 2 $450,000

Information Technology 2 $350,000
Total 26 $5,500,000

These are simple tables, but they do a good job at showing both count and impact in the same report section.

 

Solution Effectiveness

It’s possible to report on solution effectiveness by mapping each solution from the period to some form of effectiveness hierarchy.  We like the classic Hierarchy of Controls chart, but you can probably think of a few ways of scoring solution effectiveness.  The hierarchy of controls chart we use looks like this:

RCA Solution Effectiveness Graph

Here is a brief description of each level, using automobile safety as an example:

  • Elimination:  Completely eliminates the hazard altogether.  Not getting into a car at all is the safest way to avoid being injured in a car.
  • Substitution:  Substituting one thing for another less-risky thing.  Traveling by train substitutes one mode of travel for another.
  • Engineering:  Engineering a less-risky option.  Since the first seatbelts were introduced, cars have been engineered to be less risky in a variety of ways.
  • Administrative:  Using rules, regulations, procedures, and training to reduce risk.  Outlawing the use of a mobile device while driving is an administrative control.
  • Behavior:  Getting people to behave in a less-risky way.  The choice to not use a mobile device while driving is a behavior modification.
  • Protection:  Personal protective equipment is the last line of defense.  Seatbelts are a form of personal protective equipment in cars.  Race car drivers wear 5-point harnesses, helmets, head/neck restraints, and fire-resistant clothing.
Solutions from lower levels of this chart are harder to maintain over time and therefore are generally less effective.  We like to challenge investigation teams to try to find higher-value, creative, solutions that are more effective without breaking the bank.  The table below is one way of reporting solution effectiveness:

 

Types (by impact)

Hierarchy Count Cost
Elimination 4 $85,000
Substitution 7 $15,000
Engineering 35 $150,000
Administrative 57 $35,000

Behavior 1 $0
PPE 11 $15,000
Grand Total 115 $300,000


Developing a simple RCA Program dashboard is not difficult or time consuming, particularly considering the value it provides managers.  The time it takes to produce this report can be significantly reduced with good RCA software tools that automate the reports and graphs.  We would encourage you to borrow, adjust, amend, and improve on the example dashboard elements above.  If you have ideas, we would love to hear them!