Root Cause Analysis Processes & Methods

When carrying out root cause analysis methods and processes, keep these hints in mind:

  • Many root cause analysis tools can be used by a single person. Nevertheless, the outcome generally is better when a group of people work together to find the problem causes.
  • Those ultimately responsible for removing the identified root cause(s) should be prominent members of the analysis team that sets out to uncover them.

A typical design of a root cause analysis in an organization might follow these steps:

  • A small team is formed to conduct the root cause analysis.
  • Team members are selected from the business process/area of the organization that experiences the problem. The team might be supplemented by:
    • A line manager with decision authority to implement solutions
    • An internal customer from the process with problems
    • A quality improvement expert in the case where the other team members have little experience with this kind of work
  • The analysis lasts about two months, relatively evenly distributed between defining and understanding the problem, brainstorming its possible causes, analyzing causes and effects, and devising a solution to the problem.
  • During this period, the team meets at least weekly, sometimes two or three times a week. The meetings are always kept short, at maximum two hours, and since they are meant to be creative in nature, the agenda is quite loose.
  • One person in the team is assigned the role of making sure the analysis progresses, or tasks are assigned to various members of the team.
  • Once the solution has been designed and the decision to implement has been taken, it can take anywhere from a day to several months before the change is complete, depending on what is involved in the implementation process.
Root Cause Analysis

Excerpted from Root Cause Analysis: Simplified Tools and Techniques, pages 19–20.

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Organization-Wide Approaches