Root Cause Analysis

Why do you need to analyze root causes?

Agile development has Kaizen, continuous process improvement, in its heart. The speed of agile delivery hits borders defined by company organization, company’s processes, and environment.

The primary role of ScrumMasters and agile managers is to optimize development flow from end to end. The impediments (blockers) are in many agile companies just gathered or solved immediately without deeper analysis. This many times lead to solving minor issues, but not the most important one.

Root cause analysis is a technique to find out the real reason for a problem.

For example, your problem is that your customers are not satisfied. Why? Because of lack of quality, late delivery and maybe that results are different than expected. But why do these reasons exist? Ask another why question and you will find that there are some common reasons for multiple problems. They will probably even create some loops (see Causal Loops Diagram). And if these loops are solved, then suddenly top problem will start to fade away.

Here is another example of root cause analysis where we identified the reason for low customers satisfaction as missing vision and no time to define it on the customer’s side and not SW vendor.

How to do RCA?

  1. Put your problem as the first node in your mind map in RCA Desk.
  2. There are multiple techniques how to understand the root cause of your problem. The simplest one (and probably the most efficient) is very simple. 5 WHY – just ask ‘Why?’ the question up to five times for every node in your analysis.
  3. Draw additional connections if any node is related to other nodes. One node can be related/depending on multiple others.
  4. Try to identify loops in your RCA that should be broken as the first step.
  5. Identify tasks for those loops that should be done to solve root causes and add tasks to the WORK view.

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