How root cause analysis can help your solution implementation

Gwenola Michaud - GM Consulting

Written by Gwenola Michaud 

root cause analysis

How root cause analysis can help your solution implementation

Gwenola Michaud - GM Consulting

Writen by Gwenola Michaud 

root cause analysis

How root cause analysis can help your solution implementation

Gwenola Michaud - GM Consulting

Written by Gwenola Michaud 

milad fakurian bmsa5 tlfao unsplash

How root cause analysis can help your solution implementation

What is Root Cause Analysis?

Root cause analysis (RCA) is a problem-solving technique used to identify the underlying potential causes of

an issue or problem. The purpose of RCA is to determine why a problem occurred in the first place, rather than simply addressing its symptoms. The objective is to find long term solutions.

Why is it key?

If a problem has occurred once, it can occur again. If the root cause is identified and addressed, the problem is unlikely to happen again. Root cause analysis can prevent future problems, minimize the severity of the issues and can be seen as a tool or habit to continuously improve.

root cause analysis

How to apply it?

The RCA process typically involves the following steps:

A. Identify and describe the problem or issue.

B. Gather data and evidence about the problem.

C. Analyze data to determine root and approximate causes

  • Decompose the problem into basic events and conditions, describing what happened. Asking “WHY” helps to dig toward the root cause and its conditions. However, to use when the team environment is positive and supportive; alternatively, the communication may tend to be unilateral, instead of a collaborative and useful exercise.
  • Create a time line and workflow, summarizing events and steps as a causal factor tree
  • Check logic and facts while eliminating items that are not causes nor contributing factors.    

D. Develop and implement solutions to address the root causes of the problem.

E. Monitor the effectiveness of the solutions.

Some questions to ask during the analysis phases

  • Clarifying origins of the problems.

What happened?

What caused it?

Where and when was the cause?

Where and when was its effect?

What was the magnitude of effect?

  • Defining the cause and its effect, challenge the assumptions and look for evidence and alternative perspectives:

What are all the potential causes we can think of?

How do we know this is a cause?

What else could have caused this issue?

What can we do to prove or disprove our assumptions?

  • Get some others’ perspectives.
  • Examine consequences and implications.

What are the consequences of the causes?

What are their severities?

What are the factors of the severity of the effect?

  • Go to solutions and focus on the way forward

How can we solve problems?

How can we prevent the effect happened again or to be more severe?

What can we do differently now that we know the root cause?

How will this help us in the future?

Why it can be difficult to apply?

  • A systematic approach is not used – Consider applying the workflow from data collection to solution monitoring.
  • Not enough time is dedicated for data gathering, analysis or retrospective – Think of the long term benefit to apply this analysis.
  • The problem is not clearly defined – Dedicate enough time to the 1st step of identifying and articulating the issue to resolve.
  • Skills, knowledge, or experience to understand the root cause are not available. This is required at all steps of the workflow to identify the problem, to collect data and facts, to perform the analysis, to provide solutions and to monitor new outcomes.  
  • Solutions are based on guesses or assumptions – Before implementing solutions, make sure to focus on facts.
  • Solutions are not permanent, nor monitored – Focus on solution implementation for long term with monitoring aspect to test and evaluate effectiveness of the solutions.

How to make successful analysis?

  • Use and practice standardized approach regularly.
  • Adopt fact-based decision making: Eliminate opinions or guesses.
  • Build a mind map or a diagram to show relationships, causes, effects, conditions view and timeline.
  • Test to confirm if the root cause has been found.
  • Implement permanent corrective solutions.
  • Monitor regularly if the solution is practical, feasible, and cost-effective, robust and sustainable.

RCA and Digital Solution Development

RCA is an important tool for identifying the underlying causes of problems and issues that can arise during

a digital solutions development project. By understanding the root causes of problems, teams can develop more effective solutions that address the underlying issues. RCA can be used at various stages of a project of development for digital solutions, including during planning, development, and testing phases. For example, if a team encounters issues with delays in development, poor quality output, or lack of stakeholder engagement, RCA can help identify the root causes of these issues. The analysis is done in collaboration with all stakeholders, and gathering data from multiple sources, reviewing key performance indicators, getting feedback from stakeholders, conducting interviews with team members and users.

Once the root causes have been identified, teams can design, develop and test effective solutions that address the issues. This may involve changes to project planning or development processes, additional training for team members, or adjustments to project requirements or timelines.

By applying RCA to project management for digital solutions development, teams can improve their ability to deliver successful projects that meet stakeholder expectations, and ensure that any problems or issues that arise are identified and effectively resolved. Teams move from acting in a reactive mode into a proactive mode with the benefit on solutions quality and users’ appreciation.


Introduction to Root Cause Analysis

Mental Models

Photo from Unsplash Milad Fakurian


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Optimize your project success and delivery !

360° Energy and Environment Consultant

Geoscience & Monitoring Consulting (GMC) is delivering project management and digital solutions to guide innovative and technical leaders.

Gwenola Michaud - GM Consulting

Gwenola Michaud

360° Energy and Environment Consultant

20 years of expertise in managing people and projects, as well as developing, testing and delivering software solutions to improve team success and business growth.

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