What is Root Cause Analysis (RCA)?

You have probably heard of these three words (Root Cause Analysis) before but you do not really know what it means. Let’s separate the words into two and simplify it. A Root Cause is defined as a factor that caused a nonconformance and should be permanently eliminated through process improvement. While Analysis is a detailed examination of the elements or structure of something. Therefore, Root cause analysis as a collective term is a wide range of approaches, tools, and techniques used to uncover the most probable causes of problems.

The easiest way to understand root cause analysis is to think about common problems. If our cars fail to start, we’ll ask a mechanic to find the real cause of the problem. If our business is underperforming (or over performing) in a certain area, we’ll try to find out why. For each of these examples, we could just find a simple remedy for each symptom. For example, to get around without a car, we might take the bus and leave our broken car at home. But this solution will only consider the symptoms and will not consider the underlying causes of those symptoms. In this case, for a car it could be a busted alternator that needs to repaired. To solve or analyze a problem, we’ll need to perform root cause analysis and find out exactly what the cause is and how to fix it.

Fig 1 above : Man standing next to his broken red car and calling to the mechanic on the phone.  

Root Cause Analysis assumes that it is much more effective to systematically prevent and solve for underlying issues rather than just treating ad hoc symptoms and putting out fires. Root cause analysis can be performed with a collection of principles, techniques, and methodologies that can all be leveraged to identify the root causes of an event or trend. RCA can show where processes or systems failed or caused an issue in the first place.

You may now be asking yourself why should I learn about root cause analysis. A Mechanical Engineer recently stated “Equipment failure is not a single event—it is a process.” The truth is, maintenance issues are often caused by a string of technical issues and process failures. If the mechanical engineer were to find out the main cause of the problem, it would help him to solve it and prevent it from occurring again through a proven methodology taught in our Root Cause Analysis Program.

Viscar will be conducting a 2-day training program from the 24th to 25th of April 2019 at Viscar Knowledge Room located at Bemuda Plaza, next to  Nairobi Baptist Church on Ngong Road, Nairobi.

Sign up and pay for your slot before 11th April 2019 and get 10 percent off the training fees.

Don’t put a bandage on a problem; fix it.