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Causal Analysis Guideline


What is causal analysis ?

Cause refers to a reason. The purpose of causal analysis is trying to find the root cause of a problem instead of finding the symptoms. This technique helps to uncover the facts that lead to a certain situation.Hence causal analysis can be conducted with the help of any of the following ways.

  • Reviews/ Testing
  • Audit of the quality of system/projects
  • Management review meetings
  • Maintaining a quality system and noting deviations, if any
  • Customer complaints
  • Problems/issues encountered at the project or organizational level
    • Objectives of causal analysis :

      • Identify critical problems: When a problem is identified, the team comes together and organises a brainstorming session in order to find out the root cause of the problem. Participants include those people or the team who comes across a given problem, experts in the specific domain and also members from the quality analysis and defect prevention team of the project.
      • Identify causes and root causes: Post brainstorming session team members are in a position to determine the root cause of the problem. The root causes of the problem are documented. The defect prevention team analyses the problem with the help of any of the following metrics :
        • Pareto analysis : This technique is used when we have quantitative data. This method is used to prioritize and deal with the various causes that result in a problem, so that an effective measure could be taken against a given problem.
        • Cause and effect diagram :
        • A fishbone diagram is used to visualise, clarify, link, identify and classify the various causes of a problem. Using this type of diagram, a root cause analysis is done which helps in taking corrective actions, so that the same problem does not occur again. It is a qualitative technique and requires brainstorming by the team in addition to the tool
      • Identify corrective actions -Finally a solution is proposed and discussions take place to devise a strategy to rectify the problem.

      Causal Analysis performed at various levels of the organisation :

      • Project level -At project level, causal analysis deals with finding out issues and defects in a project. There is periodic review by the team members to track the performance of the system with the help of inputs given by the team members. According to a consensus, the team derives at a time of the month or week when the cause analysis process is going to take place. The team must also review the progress of the correction activities and record what is being performed. The project managers along with the project team members are also expected to conduct meetings periodically. The topic of discussion in a meeting includes the following points :
        • Progress of the project
        • Progress of the project so far
        • Project activities yet to arrive
        • Distribution of responsibilities for the tasks about to arrive
      • Workgroup level -

        Workgroup heads organise departmental meetings to share information about departmental activities, share important information about ongoing activities within the organisation, identify and discuss the root cause of problems, and follow up with the everyone.

      • Organisational level -

        The head of the various groups shall meet frequently with the head of the organisation to discuss departmental issues and activities. The meetings involve discussion about common issues and problems, share information regarding their respective workgroups, and efforts should be made to solve any inter-departmental issues.

      • Guidelines/check list for causal analysis:

        One among the following few purposes must be fulfilled :

        • It must prove a point.
        • Try to contradict a widely accepted belief.
        • To study the theory.
          • Mention whether the essay focuses on cause, effect or both.
          • Develop description, narration, example, classification or comparison.
          • Design a logical pattern for representing the facts
        • Single cause - multiple effects
        • Multiple causes - single effect
        • Casual chain
          • Establish an association between an idea and issues of cause/effect which reflects an effective transition.
          • Avoiding logical fallacies like - oversimplification of a situation, insufficient evidence and specific details, omission of important connections etc.
          • An effective causal analysis demands a writer's deep understanding about the immediate causes or effects.
          • The causal analysis documentation answers a lot many questions. It helps to develop a better understanding of quite complex series of events in a simplified manner.