Services: Training

Consulting Managed Incidents Training

RCA Step 1: Problem Statement Development

The problem statement defines the problem to be solved. It is the most important part of the process as developing the wrong problem statement will often result in the wrong problem being resolved.

The problem statement has a set format and answers the questions:

  • What is the nature of the problem
  • What is going wrong
  • By how much is it going wrong
  • Where is the problem occuring
  • When was the problem first observed

Using this format, an example of a problem statement would be:

    The number of ClO2 generator puffs per week increased 10 fold starting on Feb 2nd.

Sometimes the sponsoring manager has developed her own (non-RCA based) problem statement which she gives to the troubleshooting team. This can result in extra work for the team - either because there is not alignemnt to the problem statement, or the team reaches an incorrect problem resolution..

One example is where we were called in to solve wet end sheet breaks. Of course what was really desired was that machine reliability be improved to a target level. The manager had looked at the data and determined that wet end sheet breaks were the number 1 cause of downtime - accounting for about 75% of the downtime. However, on closer examiniation it became clear that a significant amount of downtime data was missing. In the end it was found that the bale line accounted for over 50% of the downtime and the wet end breaks were less than 25%. A small procedure change resolved most of the baleline downtime. If the problem statement had been left as "wet end breaks", the cost would have been significantly higher and the resulting reliability improvement would not have met the target.

Back: RCA Process Overview Next: Current Situation/Data Analysis