What is Root Cause Analysis (RCA)?

Root Cause Analysis is a methodology for finding and correcting the most important reasons for performance problems. It places an important aspect in quality management system which involves finding out the problems in the organization. It is a set of analyzing and problem solving techniques targeted at identifying the actual root cause or the reason that caused the problem.

The need for RCA stems from the fact that the elimination of the symptoms of the problems is not alone sufficient to address the problem, it has to be addressed at the cause level. Unfortunately, root cause analysis is an often misunderstood and misapplied process. Instead of viewing root cause analysis as an opportunity for improvement, many see it only as an admission that things have gone wrong. Root cause analysis should be seen as an opportunity, not a chore.

RCA can be done as follows:-

  • Define the problem.
  • Collect data and evidence and classify them along a timeline of evidence till the failure.
  • Ask why and identify the causes of each step.
  • Classify causes into casual related to sequence chain.
  • Identify corrective actions that will prevent the problem.
  • Identify solutions effectively prevent the problem.
  • Implement root causes corrections.

If one have or aspire to ISO 9001, it must have a systematic approach to problems: nonconformance, corrective and preventive action. Without it, it is hard to pick problems for root cause analysis, because they're often distributed over time, or happen to different people (so one doesn’t realize they recur in the organization).

RCA investigations are conducted by multi-disciplinary teams who seek to determine the root causes of the incident and provide recommendations about how to avoid such incidents reoccurring.

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