Project management: How to conduct a root cause analysis

Follow this guide on how to identify the root cause of problems to successfully reduce risks and improve project outcomes.

Serious focused businesswoman typing on laptop holding papers preparing report

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At one stage or another, all projects are subject to risks and being able to isolate problems can be tricky. Knowing how to conduct a root cause analysis can help your teams get to the source of each problem faster and improve project performance over time. 

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What is root cause analysis?

Root cause analysis (RCA) is a problem-solving technique that is broadly used in business to identify where a problem, issue, or error originates. Instead of fixing the symptom, it gives companies a way to isolate the cause of a problem. Root cause analysis helps isolate what happened, when, where, and why a problem occurred. This information, in turn, helps your company decide how to fix the problem.

Why is root cause analysis necessary? 

Think of it in terms of removing weeds from a garden. If your goal is to remove weeds, then cutting off the part of the plant that you can see doesn’t fix the underlying issue–the weed will come back repeatedly. To completely remove it for good, you need to remove it at the roots, literally. This is the same concept as performing a root cause analysis. 

What are the benefits of root cause analysis?

There are many benefits to being able to clearly identify the cause of the problem, including:

  • Developing a correct and sustainable solution to a problem. 

  • Improved internal process efficiency.

  • Increased confidence in the solution and team capabilities.

  • Improved team performance. 

  • Higher-quality deliverables.

  • Faster, more reliable turnaround time.

  • Improved client satisfaction.

How do you conduct a root cause analysis?

  1. Assign resources. Depending on…