Root Cause Analysis: Practical Tools

Over the years, I’ve been asked many times for a hands-on solution to do Root Cause Analysis (RCA). I have described a process and a checklist to help organizations that want to start with it, and I´m providing a report with an example in a handy booklet on RCA: Tools for Root Cause Analysis.

Why Root Cause Analysis

The purpose of Root Cause Analysis (RCA) is to analyze problems to identify the main causes that have led to them, and to initiate actions to prevent similar problems from occurring in the future. RCA helps you to take a system view, and understand what has happened. An RCA sessions can be done on any problem; often it is done on defects that were found by customers or during test, on major project disturbances, or findings from earlier (CMMI, risk or other) assessments. In all the RCA sessions that I have done there have been multiple, related causes.

Root Cause Analysis can also be done within Agile Retrospectives (see Getting Business Benefits out of RetrospectivesGetting to the Root Causes of Problems in a Retrospective and the book Getting Value out of Agile Retrospectives for more information on how to do that).

Available information on Root Cause Analysis:

Share your experiences!

Root Cause Analysis (RCA) has been used for many years to determine a fault’s first or “root” causes in order to identify process improvement opportunities that give a quick ROI. If you have any question on Root Cause Analysis, or experiences doing Root Cause Analysis, feel free to comment on this article.

(This blog was posted Mar 18, 2011, updated Sep 9, 2011: Added report template & example, and updated Nov 14, 2012: links to new articles on Root Cause Analysis and updated Jun 10 2013 and oct 15 2013, RCA as a way to do retrospectives and updated Dec 30, 2017: Booklet on Tools for RCA released).

Ben Linders

I help organizations with effective software development and management practices. Active member of several networks on Agile, Lean and Quality, and a frequent speaker and writer.

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