Root cause analysis: Cause and Effect

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iso9001:2015 NCR QHSE

A proper root cause analysis can be the difference between making money and losing money. The analysis is designed to get into the detailed fundamental causes of the issue, without any bias. The cause and effect analysis will lead to significant insight in why things went wrong.

It is very easy to come up with a result that describes the person that made the mistake. However, it is important to always go deeper than the particular person. When a person messes up there is almost always a more fundamental problem to the issue. This could include things like:

  • Lack of training
  • Company culture
  • Hiring the wrong people

These things can lead to people messing up for all kind of reasons. However, the company can change these things to reduce the number of issues for example by changing the recruitment plan or sending people to training. In the next part we will describe the Cause and Effect methodology.

Cause and Effect

With a cause and effect diagram you start off with an effect or outcome you want to analyze. This effect may be positive or negative but has to be described as clear as possible. Then the main causes are identified. The main causes that might have lead to the effect could be the following 5M’s for a manufacturing plant:

  • Machine
  • Method
  • Material
  • Man / mind power / personnel
  • Measurement / medium

When the main causes of the issue are identified the next step is to identify as many causes that might have lead to the effect. Classify the causes according to the main causes and place these below them. This will lead to a result like this.

To go one level deeper you can ask why a certain cause happened. This will give more detailed insight into this cause. Create another layer of causes that are linked to this for example speed or temperature.

When the diagram is ready you can analyze the information. The main causes with a significant number of causes under them need some further investigation. Also, when a certain cause shows up multiple times this might be the root cause. Then look for clusters, when there are a couple of causes close to each other, then that is something that needs your attention. The same is true when there are very little causes, you might need to further investigate these and why there are so few. To really start improving, identify the causes you can take actions on and put these actions in the action list with clear owners of each action.

Next post we will dive deeper into the 5 Why’s.

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