A root cause analysis can prove to be an incredibly effective method of identifying problems within a business, as well as highlighting any areas for long term improvement.
It is possible, however, for businesses to waste their efforts in attempting to solve problems by not setting a clear focus for their root cause analysis. The backlash of this is that companies are wasting their time and resources on something that may not even solve the problems they are experiencing.
What is a root cause analysis?
A root cause analysis is a way of identifying any issues within a business. When carried out correctly, it will discover what the problem is, and also how a company can go about solving it.
Every business will encounter different problems throughout their lifecycle, many of which can be challenging to identify and solve. To maximise the chances of moving forward, a root cause analysis should be both precise and accurate, focussing on these four areas:
- Identifying the problem
- Collecting evidence and data based on the problem
- Identifying the root cause
- Taking steps to find a solution to the problem.
Identify the problem
Before anything else, those in positions of authority must be able to clearly identify any problems that have arisen within the business before taking steps to solve them.
These problems can be related to several areas, including financial performance, workplace morale and productivity to name a few. Whatever the issue is, it needs to be identified along with the specific symptoms of the problem at the beginning of a root cause analysis.
Collect evidence and data based on the problem
Before identifying the root cause of any issues, business leaders need to be entirely sure that the problem exists enough to cause disruption, and later gather evidence to prove its negative impact on the company.
While this can be difficult to do, especially when it comes to internal and personal matters, it will be inherently more difficult to identify and solve the root cause of a problem without clear data to suggest that it is indeed one.
Identify the root cause of the problem
After collecting the relevant evidence, the next stage of a root cause analysis will be to identify precisely what is causing the problem. Business leaders should be asking themselves based on the evidence they have collated:
- What has happened to cause this problem?
- What working conditions have allowed this problem to occur?
- What is the backlash of this problem?
Once the problem has been clearly identified, along with the cause, it becomes easier for leaders to begin solving the issue.
Take steps to find a solution to the problem
This stage will, of course, vary on the severity of the problem along with who or what will be affected by any subsequent action taken. Ultimately, however, business leaders should be able to take steps to prevent the problem from happening again, as well as how the solution will be implemented.
Care should also be taken to assess the risk of implementing a solution following a root cause analysis, as there may be knock-on effects which may cause even more significant problems for the wider company.
Identifying and fixing problems in the workplace does not have to be an impossible task for business leaders. When a clear focus is presented on dealing with the problem head-on as part of a root cause analysis, the process becomes much more straightforward.
Furthermore, once business leaders have solved one problem using a clear structure, future issues that may arise will become easier to solve.