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 Practical techniques  Practical techniques   Problem people   Problem people

A simple root cause analysis technique we use to uncover the original problem causing an issue is the use of stopped question analysis. This is a simple and effective technique. Start with one question and continue to delve using the same questioning stance. Do this using the question what stopped? until the root cause is uncovered or the reasons are apparent. We can describe this for ever but it is easier if we just look at an example. In this situation you have just learned of a shipment that did not go ahead and you want to get to the bottom of why this has happened. Here goes:

QUESTION. What stopped the Shipment being delivered on Thursday?
ANSWER. It was not fully tested so we pulled the shipment.

QUESTION. What stopped it being tested?
ANSWER. It was not tested because the testers were not prepared to test.

QUESTION. What stopped the testing preparation?
ANSWER. There was no testing preparation as they were not aware shipment testing was due.

QUESTION. What stopped the testers being aware of the need for testing the shipment?
ANSWER. The testers were not informed of the shipment.

QUESTION. What stopped the testers being informed about the shipment?
ANSWER. They were not in attendance at the Daily Forum where the shipment was announced.

QUESTION. What stopped the testers being at the Daily Forum?
ANSWER. They were not at the Daily Forum because there was no free tester to attend. They were taken away to work on another project.

You have probably now uncovered the reason why the Shipment was not done on Thursday. This was actually due to resource constraints in the testing team. A serious problem has occurred and you need to repair the resource constraint as well as the need to review future resource levels.

This has to be done with a view to demand and to ensure you are aware of this problem early. Use this technique often and your colleagues will get ready with the answers but do not overdo it as it can become a little annoying even counter productive.


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Root Cause Analysis


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