Root Cause Analysis (RCA) is considered to be one of best techniques for quality improvement that is required to identify, understand, and then resolve any main causes or root causes of defects or problems that occurred. In simple words, we can say that it is a problem-solving technique.
RCA simply deals with the main root cause of the problem of the defect and then resolves it rather than continue to resolve or deal with symptoms i.e. deal with problems. It is a tool that is used to describe what exactly happened, how it happened, and why it happened. Apart from problem-solving, there are different roles of the RCA team.
Why RCA is important?
If anyone experiences some of the problems listed below, then it is recommended to use RCA. RCA is best to approach to deal with the following problems –
- Rather than solving problems, simply spending more time in reporting problems.
- Solutions or tools implemented to solve issue does not work properly or does not give a better result.
- Implementing same solution, again and again, to resolve problem even if results are not correct.
- Solving problems is considered to be option based rather than fact-based.
Reasons for RCA :
- RCA is considered to be a part of policy and a target or goal of several organizations.
- RCA also helps in the growth of the organization and provides long-term improvement of the software.
- It is also considered to be powerful vehicle for simply training other peoples.
Role of RCA in Problem-Solving :
- Identifying Real Cause :
When a problem or defect occurs in a system, people tend to find various approaches to solve problems or defects. But people use to treat symptoms rather than the root cause i.e. they try to solve problems but not the main root cause of the problem. Even if someone finds the best approach to deal with problems and solve symptoms rather than the root cause, it is sure that the same problem will occur again in time and it will be needed to be solved again.
Therefore, if an organization wants to increase software quality and solve problems permanently, then the real cause or root cause of the problem is very essential to be identified. There might be more than one root cause of the problem.
- Resolve or Not Resolve :
After identifying the root cause of the problem or defect, one of the main questions that arise is “Whether to resolve it or not?” Obviously, organizations want to deal and resolve problems but the amount needed to resolve problems is also important to be considered. One always analyzes whether the cost required to resolve the main root causes it more or less.
Then they compare it with the cost required to deal with symptoms. Yes, the determination of cost is not an easy process. Determination of cost required to resolve the root cause may be easy, but on another hand, it is tough to determine the cost required to resolve symptoms or problems. Even though difficult, one has to determine the cost to decide whether to resolve the root cause or should continue to deal with symptoms.
- Eliminate or Prevent Reoccurrence of Defect or Problem :
One needs to understand that solving the root cause is also not important. If there is a root cause of a problem that results in failure of procedures, then it is necessary to check weakness in the procedure and then develop a better approach to simply prevent impact or damage that is being caused due to failure in the procedure.
Action Plan in RCA :
One of the important plans in RCA is Action Plan. RCA team basically defines the problem, identifies the root causes of the problem using various tools or techniques. After identifying or determining the root causes of the problem, they need to resolve them. Questions that arise are “What measures are required to resolve the problem?” Therefore, the RCA team’s main focus is on determining the best and appropriate measures and actions that are required to resolve.
They need to develop a plan i.e. action plan for simply implementing corrective measures required. The action plan should include expected due dates to which tasks should be completed. There might be many ways to solve problems but its difficult to find out the correct and appropriate one. The team needs to be focused fully on identifying solutions. Measures or action can be categorized into two categories as given below –
- Short-term Measures :
Short-term measures, as the name suggests, are measures that are required when one wants to solve a problem that lasts a short period of time. These measures will be able to change and lasting only a short time. These measures are also known as immediate counter-measures. It generally completes successfully in less than 1 week. If it does not get accomplished in less than 1 week, then a particular measure should be considered as a long-term measure.
- Long-term Measures :
Long-term measures, as the name suggests, are measures that are required when one wants to solve a problem that lasts a long period of time. These measures will be able to change and lasting long periods of time. These measures are also known as permanent counter-measures. It generally completes successfully in less than 1 month. If it does not get accomplished in less than 1 month, then a particular measure should be then forwarded to the Continuous Improvement (CI) team. CI team then evaluates the problem and find measures.
Another important question that arises is “Who will be able to accomplish corrective action or measure?” One to whom the task i.e. corrective action is assigned must be able to achieve the target and complete the task. The action plan should include also these details.
Verification Plan in RCA :
Another important plan in RCA is the Verification Plan. This plan is also known as the Validation Plan. After completion of the action plan, effectiveness should be verified. Verification is done simply to check whether measures taken are effective or not.
It is the responsibility of the team to review or validate whether or not the problem has reoccurred after the implementation of corrective action or measure. If the problem has reoccurred, then it simply means that measures taken were not correct or process steps were not followed accurately. Their team also has to verify whether or not process steps are accurately followed.
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