September 4, 2013
For years, the evidence has been clear: Clients with structured root cause analysis/problem management programs earn a higher return on their investment.
It is true that a single outstanding RCA of a high-impact event can pay for an entire RCA program. And most companies have a few star employees that they can pin their hopes on. But this is a riskier road to travel. Companies can lock in returns much more quickly and reliably when they create and manage an effective team of root cause analysts, participants, and managers. This diversifies the workload across a broader base. In the same way that the base of a pyramid supports the apex, a root cause analysis program builds a solid base of investigational capacity tied to goals and objectives. Smaller wins become daily occurrences and larger victories become much more frequent over time.
Many companies choose to forgo implementation of an RCA program. They are still investing in RCA training. But building and managing a program is perceived to be much harder than just scheduling classes. Let’s face it – no one is looking for more work these days. Though profits and cash-on-hand are at all time highs, years of reductions have left many departments under-staffed and under-funded. Value is placed on getting the quick win rather than on positive longer-term outcomes. Our challenge was clear: We needed to make it substantially easier for companies to put an RCA program in place. This would enable them to earn the much higher returns (both short- and long-term) generated by an RCA program.
Each Sologic trainee leaves class with a free copy of Causelink 2.1 software in their toolbox. These individual licenses do a great job at supporting the individual investigator. But that data stays bottled up on individual computers. The challenge is to open up those individual data silos to bring the data into a common repository and bring it out into the light. This would dramatically increase the likelihood of achieving much higher results.
Causelink Enterprise is a web-based application that gathers all the data generated by individual users together into one location. This allows decision makers to actually manage the RCA program in real-time. Here's how it works.
- A threshold-triggering event occurs. First responders get the situation under control and mitigate additional damage.
- An RCA is opened. The RCA manager initiates a new RCA in Causelink Enterprise and assigns it to a trained Facilitator. They also assign Participants and a Problem Owner.
- The RCA Facilitator receives email notification that a new RCA has been assigned to them. They organize the RCA data gathering/managing efforts and meetings.
- Once solutions have been identified, they are sent to the Problem Owner for approval. Approved solutions are assigned to individual team members.
- Team members implement solutions, triggering an action for the Facilitator to verify that they have, in fact, been completed.
- Finally, solutions are validated for effectiveness. At this point the RCA is closed.
Keeping each of the open RCAs on track helps improve throughput. It helps ensure that important steps are not left out. And it helps ensure that investigation capacity is being efficiently managed. But Causelink Enterprise helps in other ways as well - such as conducting real-time common cause searches that allow you to quickly identify and address likely common systemic causes across the entire enterprise. It communicates with other systems when required. And it maps your incidents either using the Google Maps API or a custom map provided by you so you can see exactly where problems have occurred.
The benefits of Causelink Enterprise include:
Improving top-line revenue: A refined root cause analysis program improves your top-line revenue by making your company more attractive to potential clients. This is particularly true if your company provides contract services in risky environments, such as energy production. It represents a competitive advantage because clients would rather work with you over a competitor that lacks this sort of program.
Reducing costs and risks: RCA reduces costs by reducing recurrence of problems and reducing risk. Our clients deal with big problems that dwarf the cost of software and training. This means that a single large event can justify the investment required to fund an entire RCA program. But a well-managed RCA program provides immediate and substantial savings.
Improving quality: Product quality is significantly improved when QA issues are identified and investigated. As the program comes up to speed, quality problems will increasingly be found long before an escape occurs. And if an escape does happen, a high-quality root cause analysis program helps regain client trust in the fastest possible way.
Improving on-time delivery: You can't get paid if your products don't show up on time. This is particularly important in just-in-time manufacturing environments. It's important to investigate logistics problems to ensure products are delivered when expected.
Enhancing your career: It’s okay to consider what's in this for you. Leading a successful RCA program is a terrific addition to any resume.
Causelink Enterprise provides an affordable turnkey solution. It’s the right tool for the job. And did I mention that it’s the only end-to-end RCA application on the market?