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Step-by-Step Method to Report Root Cause Analysis Results

written by: Suba Lakshminarasimhan • edited by: Linda Richter • updated: 9/11/2011

The root cause analysis method is a widely used business problem-solving model. Organizations use this method to find the root causes of various problems. Right here you will find the best practices for documenting root cause analysis findings.

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    Create a Template with Title, Headings and Subheadings

    It is common for organizations and project teams to use root cause analysis methods for many problems. Hence, designing a common template will always be helpful. Begin the documentation process of root cause analysis results by creating a template with a title, headings and subheadings. Make sure you have a version control and a description table at the end of the document. This will be helpful to track the changes happening in the documentation. The table must have columns for the date, the person’s name who is editing or updating it, a summary of the changes made and the version description.

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    Title and the Problem Statement

    Look at the sample template of the root cause analysis report from our Project Management Media Gallery. With this template, start the documentation process by writing an appropriate title. The title must explain what the problem is about. The next step will be creating an abstract of the problem statement defined. Unless the problem statement is properly defined, the reader may not be able to understand the topic on which the root cause analysis is done. Clearly explain what the situation or problem is about.

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    Data and Evidence Collection

    Chart As a next step, describe how the data and evidence are collected and arranged in chronological order. The information about the data collection must begin by detailing when exactly the process was initiated. The data and evidence collection given in chronological order will help the reader to connect the problem with the data given. The numbers, scenarios and statistics need to be given clearly. Explaining the methods used for data collection and the reason why you are choosing these methods are the key factors to be included in the document. Make sure to use bar charts or pie charts to interpret the data and evidence collected. This will definitely elevate the power of the document.

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    Cause Identification

    The identification of the cause is the next step after your data collection.

    This section must include:

    1. How is the cause identified?
    2. What are the business research methodologies or statistical analysis methods used in identifying the cause?
    3. How are the data or evidence used in pinpointing the causes?
    4. What are all the tools and technologies used in finding the cause?
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    Cause and Effect

    Once the cause is identified, relating the cause to the problem is the next important step to be explained in the document. How is this cause responsible for creating a problem? At times, there are multiple causes identified for a single problem. In such cases, explain how each cause is related to the problem.

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    Solution to the Problem

    Project teams use various methodologies in finding the solution to the problem. The document must have the following information related to the solution.

    1. What is the solution?
    2. What are the methods, tools and technologies used to define this solution?
    3. How this solution will help to resolve the problem identified?
    4. The connection between the cause and the solution
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    Corrective Action Plan

    Report Suggesting a corrective action plan is another important step in analyzing root causes. Writing a corrective action plan is an art. Select and use important criteria while defining the action plan. Assigning stakeholders and determining deadlines are the key steps to be followed while explaining the corrective action plan.

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    Action Plan Implementation

    The corrective action plan will have information related to the implementation of the solution. A few sample action items are given below.

    • Process changes or improvement
    • Product improvement
    • Improved client interaction
    • System to identify the problem areas or to receive feedback from the clients
    • Business enhancements
    • Post-purchase support

    This section must have details about how the planned action items are going to be implemented in a sequential order.

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    Monitoring the Implemented Action Items

    The root cause analysis involves key skills, resources, cost and quality time. Hence, monitoring the implemented action item is very important. The document must explain the potential process on how to monitor and track the action items. A project team flow chart for the risk management team will be helpful to properly communicate and track the action plan.

    This section must consist of the following:

    • Tools to be used for tracking the action items.
    • System-based reports to monitor the action items.
    • How often the reports are to be generated and shared.
    • The person responsible for generating reports and tracking the progress.
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    How to Avoid Recurrence of the Problem

    The purpose of any analysis or business research methodology is also to avoid problemetic situations in the future. This purpose must be explained well in the document. The cause and the solution are identified and the corrective action plan is implemented. What is the next step? You need to have processes designed for continuous improvment. It's important to develop and implement steps to monitor the process and progress. Remember well, the possible solutions to avoid such problems in the future need to be given in the document.

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