2.3.2 – Identifying Cause and Effect: A Tutorial
This section describes how to use ProcessModel to analyze a problem with a cause-and-effect chart. This tutorial has four sections:
• Stating the problem
• Identifying major causes
• Identifying primary causes and sub-causes
• Using information to improve processes
In creating this cause-and-effect chart, you will learn to:
• Set up and label a cause-and-effect chart
• Move causes from one area of the chart to another
• Add and delete causes
Use the example of a procurement department that is slow in processing its purchase requisitions. You want to find out why the department is not able to process more requisitions. You resist a quick fix and decide to look at all the possible causes. A good way to do this is to develop a cause-and-effect chart.
Begin with a clear statement of the basic problem or desired effect: the Procurement Department processes too few transactions.
Then identify major causes of the effect. These can be skills, procedures, information systems, authority, or any other relevant causes that lead to the situation you are examining.
When considering the causes of any effect, examine the five Ms:
• Man (people)
• Machine (technology)
• Method (process)
• Material (structure)
• Milieu (environment)
In each of these five areas, review the process in the procurement department to identify major causes that lead to slow processing. For example, the number of workers in the office may affect the number of transactions that the Procurement Office can process. Identify each primary cause, and identify sub-causes for each cause. Your diagram will ultimately display a complete list of causes and sub-causes.
In the procurement department example, you identify two problems that can be solved simply. The first problem occurs in the area of Process, where you find that incomplete forms are being recorded in the log. The second problem occurs in the area of Structure, where you find that company regulations require the Procurement Manager to review and authorize all discrepancies. This step creates a backlog whenever the manager is unavailable.
For the third major cause, People, the primary cause of slow processing is a need for software training. In Technology, the primary cause is the need for a form that staff can e-mail to the procurement department.
By identifying the root causes, you can improve the process and solve the problem. By eliminating the problems identified in Process and Structure, you can expect to see improvement. By providing the training identified in People and Technology, you can expect to see more improvement.
The cause-and-effect diagram provides a method for a group of people to define, categorize and agree on the major causes of a problem process.
Step 1: Stating the Problem
How To – Set up the Cause-and-Effect Chart
1. Click the Selector tool.
2. On the General Palette, click the rounded rectangle.
3. Click on the right side of the work area to place the shape for the effect or problem.
4. While the box is selected, type the problem statement: Procurement handles orders too slowly.
5. Click on the Connector Line tool on the left toolbar, and select the cause-and-effect style line to draw a horizontal line from a point on the left side of the work area toward the Effect box on the right. This forms the spine of the “fish.”
Step 2: Identifying Major Causes
How To – Place and label major causes
1. For each major cause, draw a diagonal line from the top of the work area to the spine or from the bottom of the work area to the spine.
2. For those major causes that you identify, place a rectangle shape at the end of the diagonal lines (leaning left). Adjust lines and size the shapes as necessary. In our example, we identify four major causes: process, people, technology, and structure.
3. Label each of these by typing while the box is still selected. The mode automatically changes to Text.
The chart is easy to edit. Simply drag lines from their midsections and snap lines to and from other lines. Movement works by hierarchy. If you move the spine, all attached lines will move. If you move a major cause, all sub-causes and root causes will move, but not the spine.
Step 3: Identifying Primary Causes and Sub-Causes
How To – Place and label primary and sub-causes
1. For each major cause, identify the primary causes.
In our example, we identify two problems that can be solved simply. For the major cause People , the primary cause of slow processing is a need for software training. In the major cause Technology, the primary cause is the need for a form that staff can e-mail to the procurement department.
2. Identify each primary cause and label it on a horizontal line leading from the major causes.
3. Identify sub-causes for each cause, and add them to your diagram as diagonal and horizontal lines radiating from each cause until you have enough detail. The diagram will ultimately display a complete list of causes and sub-causes.
Move the text block as needed and use the Fill tab in the Gallery to color the background of the text as desired.
Step 4: Using Information about Causes to Improve Processes
By identifying the root causes, you can improve the process and solve the problem. By eliminating the problem identified in Process and Structure, you can expect to see some improvement. By providing the training identified in People and the new form required in Technology, you can expect to see more improvement.