Root Cause Analysis is finding out how and why a non-conformance (NCR) has occurred.  Not every Non-Conformance Report raised within your business against the Quality Management System will necessitate a thorough Root Cause Analysis.  In most cases the reason and background behind an issue is evident and can be easily addressed.

Management Review Meeting

However, recurrent issues, substantial risks, and non-conformances that involve several people or departments, will often benefit from being given a little extra attention to the detail of the causes and ultimately, a return to compliance; this is where Root Cause Analysis comes in.  Once you have your answers, you can implement some corrective actions that will put right any consequences of the non-compliance, and prevent recurrence as you have addressed the Root Cause.

There are dozens of approaches.  Dozens.  Some have such complexity you need a separate degree just to comprehend the theory.  Instead, here are a few simpler methods and basic principles that can give you a starting point;


1) All the Whys!

Certainly, it is annoying when toddlers do it, but it is the ultimate form of questioning!  Why?  Why?  Why?  Why?  Why?  Following one answer with another enquiry, and again and again, until you build a picture of what happened and ….. why…..!


2) Walk

Sometimes literally walking the path of your NCR will highlight areas that need attention.  Maybe a shop floor, maybe a manufacturing plant.  Anyone attempting to analyse the cause of a problem should make a point of seeing the environment in which the issue has been found.


3) Diagrams

Try drawing up a process chart of the procedure around your non-conformance.  Start at the beginning, note the inputs and outputs, the persons and processes involved.  This can also be effective to identify the potential impacts of such an occurrence, giving weight to your required corrective actions.



Another method involves identifying the Four Ms.  Machine (technology) Method (process/inspection) Material (raw consumables) Man & Mind Power (physical work & mental ability).  The theory is that once the above have been named you will find amongst them the source of your troubles.


5) Ask

Of course, you could try chatting to those involved….

We hope you found this useful but if you would like any more information on Root Cause Analysis, Quality Systems, Quality Assurance Systems, or ISO 9001 for small businesses please get in touch.

01303 297034 / 07795 564089