There is little point investing in Root Cause Analysis (RCA) if you don’t implement the solutions that are recommended as a result of the investigation.
Yet, often, this is what happens. Whether it’s because they were impractical or beyond budget or stored in the wrong system so simply got lost, there are many reasons why solutions flounder in a folder, system or file, never to be implemented. Here we explore common pain points when it comes to RCA, we look at some of the reasons why solutions get stuck and what you can do about it.
Barriers to implementation of RCA solutions
There are a number of reasons why solutions don’t get implemented all of the time:
- The wrong stakeholders were involved in the RCA process
- Decision-makers can’t see (or aren’t told) how the solution delivers a cost-saving, and so don’t want to waste resources on implementing it
- It has been passed on to someone else or another department to process, instead of staying with the original team
- There is no process for implementing solutions
- The solution isn’t specific enough
- There is no process step to ensure solutions are implemented
Fortunately, these barriers can be easy to overcome. It’s important, though, to identify what the barriers are within your organization before you start trying to address them.
Strategies to achieve successful implementation
To ensure the timely, cost-effective and successful implementation of RCA solutions, best practice states that your organization should have rigorous processes in place where actions are clearly allocated and instructions or where required, work orders are issued to the right people, at the right time.
In some cases, though, once a work order goes into the CMMS, the instruction is then manually transferred to an individual. The action or instruction gets lost in translation or, because there is no written accountability, no one actually does the work. To overcome this problem, some simple strategies can be put in place:
- Appoint an owner to oversee all incomplete tasks, to keep track of what’s outstanding, and to assign team members to work orders
- If an employee is given a work order, put it in writing and make the expectations clear
- Provide clear time frames for completion of tasks
- Have an escalation system in place for when solutions become overdue
- Invest in a proven solution-tracking software to monitor progress
Something to consider when implementing RCA solutions is the impact that the change will have on other areas of the business. Sometimes, a change here will cause a problem there. Someone else or some other piece of equipment will feel the pain down the line. Teams need to evaluate RCA solutions not just in the context of their immediate environment, but also within the broader context of the business.
With the solution implemented, is the RCA case closed?
There are differing opinions about when an RCA case is officially closed. Some people think that the job is done when the RCA report, with its recommendations for change, is handed over to management. Others think that it’s complete when the solution is implemented. A third group (and we fall into this camp) believes that RCA cases remain open until the effectiveness of the solution can be measured.
Unless you evaluate the performance of the solution that has been put in place as a result of the RCA, then there is no way of knowing whether the RCA was successful. With an evaluation in hand, you can then prove the effectiveness of your RCA program and justify your efforts.
Unfortunately, we find that many companies have relatively immature RCA processes in place and lack the set of metrics required to measure performance. While they are doing RCA – which is a great start – there’s not a lot of rigor around how it’s done or the quality of outcomes. There is a great opportunity for companies to take their RCA processes to the next level, with more accountability and measurement in place. This will ultimately ensure the long-term success of RCA programs.