How to get to the root of the problems in five steps
Make root cause investigation effective with these 5 corrective and preventative actions.
Problems have multiple consequences, but often only one cause. The ability to identify that particular germ behind a company issue is essential to be capable of limiting damages and preventing future crises. The real challenge is finding a way to isolate the source of the hitch quickly and bring processes back to corporate standards before it’s too late.
In our times, consumers and business stakeholders are accustomed to not allow for a late approach to problem solving. A failure to observe quality, procedure and product standards can have a very negative impact on productivity, profitability and operation in your organization.
Five steps to recognise the root cause
There are best practices and recurring or punctual operations that can help you find the root cause of a problem related to process, product or anything else.
We resumed that efforts in the following 5 steps:
Define resources and processes
It seems obvious but it’s not. Many companies are not fully conscious of all the components and resources that are involved in every business activity. This misinformation can deeply affect the capability to analyze procedures and therefore the identification of sources of malfunction.
The easiest way to visually represent any type of business operation is to use a fishbone diagram. Due to its simple and immediate nature, this type of graph can be easily done on a simple chart, but adopting a digital solution can make the work of collecting and entering data much more practical and faster.
This graph representation, also named Ishikawa diagram, develops just like a fishbone, where the central line identifies the process being analyzed and the various bones represent the elements that make it possible.
View and organize streams
Now that you’ve identified your business processes, it’s time to visualize the results and streamline your workflow. Each process that is investigated will produce a series of hypotheses about where the work stops or a problem arises. It’s time to turn to Pareto who, with his diagram, can help us quickly skim the list of suspects.
According to the law postulated by the Italian economist himself, 80% of the problems can be traced back to 20% of the causes. The Pareto diagram allows you not to waste energy analyzing all the phases of the company’s action, but to concentrate on those that are most likely to be at the root of the analyzed problem.
However, reducing the possible causes to 20% it’s not sufficient to identify what exactly is the root of the matter. It’s time to dig deeper and look at the most probable causes.
To do this, you need to draw up checklists: easily compiled and readable forms that allow constant observation of the processes under analysis.
List the information to be collected and decide the frequency of checks. In this phase, the use of data analytics and audit management software can really make a difference and help you create checklists, collect, share and process data automatically and immediately.
If you’re not using software, find ways to make your lists easy to collect and search by auditors and analysts. The more frequent and timely the data is collected, the easier it will be to pinpoint what is going wrong.
Collect and analyze data
The culmination of the process definition and observation is data analysis.
Today, there are resources, even free, on the Internet capable of processing graphs starting from spreadsheets, however you need to know how to set them correctly and they will never be as effective and customizable as an ad hoc software for analysis and inspections, but is at least ‘better than nothing’.
An in-depth cross-analysis of the data collected during the previously established inspections and controls is able to finally get to the root of the problems and understand without doubt where action should be taken to eliminate the fault and return to line with production and performance expectations.
Decide and schedule corrective intervention
Finding the cause is not the end of the path, but rather the beginning of a new life for the company, based on real data and stable and observable procedures. Now it’s your turn to find the best solution to fix the problem.
Also in this case, a digital solution is able to provide suggestions and projections for the future, otherwise you will have to refer to your instincts and identify the corrective actions to be implemented.
You are ready to schedule the interventions and subsequent checks to understand if the chosen solution is bringing the expected results or needs to be improved or changed.
You have completed the five steps, congratulations! [Ritorno a capo del testo]Now, you are able to conduct a Root Cause Analysis and to guide your company towards a future with fewer problems and better performance.
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