What is root cause analysis (RCA)?

Root Cause Analysis (RCA) is a structured problem solving method. The aim of RCA is to identify, understand and solve the deeper ‘root causes’ of problems.  RCA is built on the principle that causal relationships exist for all events. By understanding these we can move beyond the symptoms and address the root causes at source.

For many of us, when there is a problem at work, it is difficult to get beyond immediate symptoms, meaning that the underlying causes have not been dealt with and will need fixing time and time again.  A scenario we often refer to as “fire-fighting”.   

The Root Cause Analysis method or ‘RCA’ as it is often abbreviated to, is a widely used technique that helps people get beyond the symptoms of a problem and reveal the, often hidden, and multiple root causes.

There are a variety of Root Cause Analysis processes to choose from, some are quick and easy, such as 5 Whys, others are longer and more complex such as FMEA and Ishikawa. The Sologic RCA methodology is quick to learn, logical and scalable.  It is also universal in that it can be applied to any problem, in any sector.

Who is responsible for Root Cause Analysis?

Anyone can lead an RCA - especially if they are using the right method and tools. Best practice in RCA shows us that subject matter expertise in the area being investigated is not usually required. An expert Root Cause Analysis training course can ensure your RCA Champions have the skills they need.

The RCA Lead or Facilitator usually assembles the RCA Team and gathers the information required from a variety of sources. They then use this information to determine the three main components of any Root Cause Analysis:

  • What happened?
  • Why did it happen?
  • What is required to prevent this problem from happening again?

These investigations may be recorded as individual reports or form part of a formal company-wide RCA Program.

How to conduct an RCA?

When an incident occurs it’s important that it is understood in a logical, objective and critical manner. To do this successfully we must gather and manage the available evidence.  Once collected in full we can define the problem and record its impacts.  High quality cause and effect analysis adds a deeper understanding, leading to targeted and more effective solutions.  If these are clearly documented and shared an organisation can learn from past failures and prevent future problems.   

Root Cause Analysis Software 

Sologic’s Root Cause Analysis software tool, Causelink allows problem-solving professionals to investigate events in a simple, standardized and evidence-based manner. Causelink supports 5 Whys and Cause and Effect charting, encourages the breaking of causal chains and pinpoints the effective solutions that overcome repeat failures. 
Further Root Cause Analysis reading

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