How to Identify Root Causes?

By Sebastian Traeger

April 22, 2024

3 minutes read


With over two decades in business – spanning strategy consulting, tech startups, and executive leadership – I am committed to helping your organization thrive.

At Reliability, we’re on a mission to help enhance strategic decision-making and operational excellence through the power of Root Cause Analysis, and I hope this article will be helpful! 

Our goal is to help you better understand root cause analysis by offering insights and practical tips based on years of experience. Whether you’re new to doing RCAs or a seasoned pro, we trust this will be useful in your journey towards working hard and working smart.


Understanding the Root Cause

While fixing surface-level symptoms might provide temporary relief, true solutions lie in addressing the root causes. However, identifying these root causes requires a systematic approach and keen observation. In this article, we’ll explore the art of identifying root causes effectively, offering insights into problem-solving methodologies applicable across various domains.

A root cause is the fundamental reason behind a problem or an issue. It is essential to grasp these key aspects of root causes:

  • Underlying Causes: These are the deep-seated reasons that give rise to a problem.
  • Identifiable: Root causes should be reasonably identifiable through a structured analysis process.
  • Manageable: They should be within the realm of management’s control to rectify.
  • Actionable: Effective recommendations can be generated to prevent recurrences, directly addressing the root causes.

Key Steps to Identify Root Causes:

Define the Problem

Before delving into identifying root causes, it’s essential to have a clear understanding of the problem at hand. Define the problem succinctly, outlining its impact, scope, and any associated symptoms. This clarity lays the foundation for effective problem-solving.

Utilize Root Cause Analysis (RCA) Techniques

Various analytical tools and methodologies are available to assist in identifying root causes. Fishbone diagrams (Ishikawa diagrams), fault tree analysis, Pareto analysis, and failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA) are some commonly used techniques. These tools provide structured approaches to dissecting the problem, identifying potential causes, and prioritizing them based on their significance.

Choose the right RCA Software

In the modern age of technology, software solutions can greatly aid in the root cause analysis process. One such example is EasyRCA, a user-friendly RCA software designed to streamline the identification of root causes and facilitate effective problem-solving. EasyRCA offers features such as customizable templates, interactive diagrams, data visualization tools, and collaboration capabilities, allowing teams to collaborate seamlessly and systematically analyze problems. By leveraging EasyRCA, organizations can accelerate the root cause analysis process, enhance decision-making, and drive continuous improvement initiatives.

EasyRCA RCA Software

Gather Data and Evidence

Data-driven decision-making is indispensable in root cause analysis. Collect relevant data and evidence about the problem, including historical records, performance metrics, and observations. Analyze this data to discern patterns, trends, and anomalies that may shed light on underlying causes.

Engage Stakeholders

Collaboration and input from stakeholders are invaluable in identifying root causes comprehensively. Involve individuals with diverse perspectives, including frontline workers, subject matter experts, customers, and other relevant parties. Their insights can offer different viewpoints and uncover aspects of the problem that may have been overlooked.

Consider Systemic Factors

Many problems are interconnected with broader systemic issues. When identifying root causes, consider how organizational culture, processes, policies, and external factors contribute to the problem. Addressing systemic issues may necessitate systemic solutions to effect lasting change.

Test Hypotheses and Validate Findings

Once potential root causes are identified, it’s essential to test hypotheses to confirm their validity. Conduct experiments, simulations, or pilot projects to assess the impact of addressing these root causes. Validation ensures that interventions are targeted effectively and mitigates the risk of unintended consequences.


Identifying root causes is a fundamental aspect of effective problem-solving, enabling organizations and individuals to address issues at their core and prevent recurrence. By following systematic approaches, leveraging analytical tools, and engaging stakeholders, one can unravel the complexities underlying problems and devise sustainable solutions. Embracing a culture of continuous improvement and learning fosters a proactive mindset toward addressing root causes, ultimately driving positive outcomes and fostering resilience in the face of challenges.


I hope you found this guide to identifying root causes actionable! Stay tuned for more thought-provoking articles as we continue to share our knowledge. Success is rooted in a thorough understanding and consistent application, and we hope this article was a step in unlocking the full potential of Root Cause Analysis for your organization.

Reliability runs initiatives such as an online learning center focused on the proprietary PROACT® RCA methodology and software. For additional resources, visit EasyRCA Resources.

We are known for operating ethically, communicating well, and delivering on-time. With hundreds of successful projects across most industries, we thrive in the most challenging data integration and data science contexts, driving analytics success.
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