Root Cause Analysis (RCA) Resource Center

Root Cause Analysis Resource Center

What You Need to Know About Root Cause Analysis

Root Cause Analysis helps you get to the source of the problem.How many times do you think that you have solved a problem only to have it come back to haunt you again and again?  When the same problem occurs again and again after you think you have fixed it there is a good chance that you only addressed symptoms and did not get to the root cause of the problem.

It takes tenacity coupled with the effective use of problem solving tools to get to the root cause of a problem.  Root cause analysis involves searching backwards from an undesirable effect (or problem) to its cause(s) and addressing those causes.  “Root Cause” implies that there is a single cause for a problem when in fact, there may be multiple causes working together to trigger the undesirable event.  The objective of Root Cause Analysis is to identify potential causes, determine which cause(s) are root cause(s) and address those root causes to ensure the problem does not recur.

Why is RCA So Difficult?

  • The problem is poorly defined.
  • A systematic approach is not used.
  • Investigations are stopped prematurely.
  • Decisions are based on guesses, hunches or assumptions.
  • An inadequate level of detail is used to get to the real root cause.
  • Interim containment fixes are sometimes allowed to become “permanent.”
  • The skills, knowledge and experience needed to uncover the root cause are not available.

Unfortunately, the identification and analysis of root causes is rarely easy.  Getting to the root cause of problems requires digging deep into the process that the problem “lives in.”  However, root cause analysis can be made easier by using a formal and standardized problem solving approach.