A QUALITY TOOL: Root Cause Analysis (RCA)

Root Cause Analysis (RCA) is a problem-solving approach that tries to identify the specific cause(s) of problems, not just addressing symptoms.

One of the most prevalent quality tools, but often underutilized, RCA can expose information that can lead to valuable outcomes, often resulting into significant cost savings in the long run.

The easiest way to start working
with this tool is to ask and answer “Why?” five times.


Stop when the corrective actions do not change.

Stop when the answers become less important.

Stop when the root cause condition is isolated.

Other effective tools for problem identification and solution within the RCA process are:

  • PLAN-DO-CHECK-ACT Problem Solving 


  • FISHBONE “Cause & Effect” DIAGRAM

  • Ford 8-D Problem Solving (widely used in the automotive industry)

  • WHAT-WHERE-WHY-HOW-WHO-WHEN Questions for Decision Making

When the root cause(s) is/are not addressed in a timely manner, expect the problem to reoccur with greater and deeper impacts – losses in productivity and the financial bottom line.

Hence, prevention is the key. A concerted effort in defining the root cause of problems will lead to a well-thought-out corrective action. A potentially permanent fix to the problem is addressed. Alongside the corrective action, a preventative measure can be put in place to stop recurrence.

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