I know how this works.  You get the notification that “something bad” happened, and you are assigned to perform a root cause analysis.  Your initial reaction is, “There goes the rest of my week!”

However, there is no reason that a relatively simple analysis needs to take an inordinate amount of time.  There are several things you can do to make sure that you can efficiently conduct the investigation, find solid root causes, and implement effective corrective actions.  Here are a few ideas to help you make the process as smooth as possible.

1.  The first thing that needs to be in place is a Detailed Investigation Policy for your company.  When does a RCA need to be performed?  What types of problems trigger an RCA?  What is the decision-making chain of command?  Who makes the notifications?  Who is notified?  Who will be on the team?  All of these questions need to be easily answered in order to quickly get the process started.  I have seen investigators receive notification of a problem over a week after the actual incident.  By this time, evidence has been lost, key players are no longer available, and peoples’ memories have faded.  All of this makes the investigation just that much harder.  If you can streamline this initial decision-making and notification process so that the investigation can start within hours, you’ll find the actual investigation goes MUCH more smoothly.

2.  Probably the biggest timesaver is to Be Proficient in the TapRooT® Process.  We recommend you use TapRooT® at least once per month to maintain proficiency in the system.  You can’t be good at anything if you only use it sparingly.  I often hear people tell me, “Luckily, we don’t have enough incidents to use TapRooT® more than once per year.”  Imagine if I asked you to put together an Excel spreadsheet using pivot tables, and you haven’t opened Excel since 2014!  You’d have to relearn some key concepts, slowing you down.  The same is true of an investigation process.  If you only do an investigation once each year, you aren’t looking very hard for incidents.  I’ll guarantee there are plenty of things that need to be analyzed.  Each analysis makes you that much better at the process.  Maybe go back to point #1 above and update your investigation trigger points.

3.  When you actually get started on an investigation, the first thing you should do is Start A Spring SnapCharT®.  This initial chart gets your investigator juices flowing.  It helps you think about the timeline of the incident, identifying holes in your knowledge and questions you need to ask in order to fill those holes.  It is the first step in the process.  As soon as you get that initial phone call, start building your SnapCharT®!

4.  Finally, although it is optional, The TapRooT® Software can really speed up your analysis.  The SnapCharT® tool is extremely user friendly, and the Root Cause Dictionary is only a right-click away.  It guides you through the investigation process so you don’t have to try to remember where you’re going.

You won’t perform an investigation in 5 minutes.  However, by following these tips, you relatively quickly and efficiently move through the process, with terrific results.

To learn more about learning all of the essential techniques to perform a root cause investigation, read about our 2-Day TapRooT® Incident Investigation and Root Cause Analysis Course.