written by: Ryan Tetzlaff
• edited by: Michele McDonough
• updated: 9/20/2011
Performing root cause analysis without a formal procedure for doing so is likely to cause more problems than the ones you are trying to resolve. This article will give you some examples of quality root cause analysis forms and diagrams to help document your root cause analysis.
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Root Cause Analysis
Root Cause Analysis (RCA) attempts to examine a problem or event and get to the bottom of the issue – what actually caused the issue or incident to occur? As an example – let’s say you go to turn on your TV using your remote. The TV doesn’t turn on and you know the TV works if you walk over and manually turn it on. You decide the remote is broken. The fact your remote doesn’t work is a symptom of the greater problem. You open up the battery compartment and see that the batteries are missing. The fact the batteries are missing is the root cause for the remote not working. Obviously this is an oversimplified example, but you get the idea.
When delving into complex process or product failures, you need a standard method for documenting and getting down to the bottom of these issues. That’s where RCA comes in. In order to document complex RCA scenarios, it’s useful to use a standard form. Below are some good examples of root cause analysis diagrams and forms you can take and tailor to fit your business requirements.
The “Framework for Conducting a Root Cause Analysis and Action Plan” document from The Joint Commission is a comprehensive document walking your through a root cause analysis. Although this form is written for the medical industry, it can easily be tailored to fit your needs. The document can be found here.
The Department of Energy released a document entitled “Root Cause Analysis Guidance Document”. This document walks you through an entire root cause analysis process. The end of the document contains several forms you may find useful for using during your RCA. Specifically included are examples and worksheets for causal factor analysis, event analysis, change and barrier analysis. This document can be found here.
The “Root Cause Analysis Report Form” is a Word document hosted on the State of Connecticut website that you can download and modify to meet your needs. The form follows the standard methodology for performing RCAs with a few extras tacked on. The form can be found here.
A complex and thorough RCA Excel workbook is available through the ThinkReliability.com site (here). This is a nice example as it allows for you to enter in details most simple forms don’t allow for. For example, you can include photographs, a detailed timeline and even cause and process maps. You do need to do a quick registration to receive the template, but there is no cost.
With these sample root cause analysis forms and diagram templates, you should be able to easily create a standard RCA process to follow for all root cause analysis events in the future. If you just need a form, start with the State of Connecticut form or the Joint Commission form. If you are looking for a more complex form, use the ThinkReliability workbook. If you want help creating a process from scratch, go with the DOE document.