Project Management Software
Specialists in Project Infrastructure
Causal Analysis is a Quality Control tool that, if used effectively, can provide drastic improvements. As per PMBOK “Quality Control” is defined as
The Causal Analysis approach is an effective tool for “Quality Control” and is used in many Software Development and Services engagements.
Quality can be defined in different ways.
Each one of us is responsible for the Quality of individual work units / work products.
The basic principle of causal analysis is to find causes that you can treat rather than treating symptoms.
The scope of this white paper is to define the importance of Causal Analysis / Root Cause Analysis / Fishbone Analysis approach. This structured approach is explained using one of the case studies for a Software Product Development project which is executed using the Spiral Model (Refer Diagram 001)
Spiral Model executed in multiple Phases ( Builds) – Diagram 001
Scope of Causal Analysis
The scope of Causal Analysis is to provide quality improvements in:
Following are some of the steps for Causal analysis exercise:
Define the Purpose
We need to define the purpose for Causal Analysis. What is the objective of this exercise? This should be well defined when you start any project. For example – Some projects may have an objective to reduce System Testing defects for the next phase of a project or other projects would like to do this exercise to carry forward learnings for similar projects the organization may be executing in the future.
Plan for the data
The Project Manager or Project Leader should define the system to collect this data.
Define Causal Analysis Schedule
The Causal Analysis schedule should be well defined during the Planning Phase of the project.
Track required data
Make sure that you are tracking the required data in the system in the most efficient way.
As per Causal Analysis plan extract the required data from the system and put in the Causal Analysis format. For example for the above use case format can be:
Perform Pareto Analysis
This is done to find out major causes of problems.
Identify major Cause
This is a critical step where we will identify problems on which we would like to do Causal Analysis.
Meeting with Stakeholders
Call for a meeting with stakeholders who are involved in the project task / activity. For the “System Testing Defects” problem key stakeholders could be:
Identify the coordinator who will drive this meeting. Define the coordinator role and ground rules such as:
Take inputs from Stakeholders
Obtain inputs from different Stakeholders and draw a Fishbone diagram
List Key Action Items
Based on the discussions and the Fishbone diagram prepare action plans with Action Items, Responsibility, Target Dates, Tangible/ Intangible benefits
Track Action Items to Closure and measure benefits
Based on the action plan measure tangible and non tangible benefits. For example for the above problem statement we can track benefits for the next phase of the project.
Plan Causal Analysis for next phase and project
Plan for Causal Analysis for the next phase of the project or for the new project and fine tune the plan.
Causal Analysis can provide, and has provided, substantial results in a number of projects. It is a relatively simple process to implement and will bring a focus on quality to any project team.
About the Author
Manoj Deshmukh has engaged in the management of several offshore and onshore projects as a Project / Delivery Manager/ Delivery Head. Manoj is a PMP certified Project Manager with around 13 years of experience in Engineering and Project Management. He has managed many projects / programs across the globe in US, UK, Europe, APAC. He has managed a number of different project types including Product Development / Services, T & M / Fixed Price.
He is BE ( Mech), Post Graduate Diploma in Business Management, Post Graduate Diploma in Software Engineering and has extensive experience in the Automotive domain and IT. The authors email address is firstname.lastname@example.org