Short note on Reactive and Proactive RCA

Root Cause Analysis (RCA) is one of the best methods to identify main cause or root cause of problems or events in very systematic way or process. RCA is based on the idea that for effective management, we need to find out way to prevent arising or occurring problems.

Each one needs to understand that if they want to solve or eliminate any problem, it is essential to go to the root cause of the problem and then eliminate problems so that they can reduce or control the reoccurrence of the problem. For organizations that want to improve and grow continuously, it is very essential to identify the root cause although it is tough to do so, it is essential. RCA can also be used to modify or change core processes and issues in such way that prevents future problems.

Reactive and Proactive RCA :
The main question that arises is whether RCA is reactive or proactive? Some people think that RCA is only required to solve problems or failures that have already occurred. But, it’s not true. One should know that RCA can be both i.e. reactive and proactive as given below –



1. Reactive RCA :
The main question that arises in reactive RCA is “What went wrong?”. Before investigating or identifying the root cause of failure or defect, failure needs to be in place or should be occurred already. One can only identify the root cause and perform the analysis only when problem or failure had occurred that causes malfunctioning in the system. Reactive RCA is a root cause analysis that is performed after the occurrence of failure or defect.



It is simply done to control, implemented to reduce the impact and severity of defect that has occurred. It is also known as reactive risk management. It reacts quickly as soon as problem occurs by simply treating symptoms. RCA is generally reactive but it has the potential to be proactive. RCA is reactive at initial and it can only be proactive if one addresses and identifies small things too that can cause problem as well as exposes hidden causes of the problem.

Advantages :

  • Helps one to prioritize tasks according to its severity and then resolve it.
  • Increases teamwork and their knowledge.

Disadvantages :

  • Sometimes, resolving equipment after failure can be more costly than preventing failure from an occurrence.
  • Failed equipment can cause greater damage to system and interrupts production activities.



2. Proactive RCA :
The main question that arises in proactive RCA is “What could go wrong?”. RCA can also be used proactively to mitigate failure or risk. The main importance of RCA can be seen when it is applied to events that have not occurred yet. Proactive RCA is a root cause analysis that is performed before any occurrence of failure or defect. It is simply done to control, implemented to prevent defect from its occurrence. As both reactive and proactive RCAs are is important, one should move from reactive to proactive RCA.

It is better to prevent issues from its occurrence rather than correcting it after its occurrence. In simple words, Prevention is better than correction. Here, prevention action is considered as proactive and corrective action is considered as reactive. It is also known as proactive risk management. It identifies the root cause of problem to eliminate it from reoccurring. With help of proactive RCA, we can identify the main root cause that leads to the occurrence of problem or failure, or defect. After knowing this, we can take various measures and implement actions to prevent these causes from the occurrence.

Advantages :

  • Future chances of failure occurrence can be minimized.
  • Reduce overall cost required to resolve failure by simply preventing failure from an occurrence.
  • Increases overall productivity by minimizing chances of interruption due to failure.

Disadvantages :

  • Sometimes, preventing equipment from failure can be more costly than resolving failure after occurrence.
  • Many resources and tools required to prevent failure from an occurrence that can affect the overall cost.
  • Requires highly skilled technicians to perform maintenance tasks.

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