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Ask the Expert: Root Cause Analysis

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  • 1. ©Seapine Software, Inc. All rights reserved. www.seapine.com1 As demands on product development teams increase and product complexity grows, it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain quality while keeping costs down. This is especially true if the same types of defects keep recurring across several development cycles. One of the most effective ways to reduce development costs is finding the root causes of these defects and taking corrective actions to fix them permanently. Preventing Defects with Root Cause Analysis
  • 2. ©Seapine Software, Inc. All rights reserved. www.seapine.com2 My team just had an embarrassing quality issue crop up in a recent release—one that we had found and supposedly fixed in an earlier release. I’m under the gun to not only make sure this issue is resolved, but also to prove to upper management that issues like this won’t happen in the future. What action or processes can I use to help find and correct defects like this and ensure they stop recurring? Q:
  • 3. ©Seapine Software, Inc. All rights reserved. www.seapine.com3 Many product development teams employ root cause analysis (RCA) and root cause corrective action (RCCA) to identify the true origin of defects in their development processes and prevent them from recurring. RCA is a systematic process for categorizing and analyzing identified defects that have occurred pre-release, post-release, or both. When done properly, RCA reveals the points in the development process that are causing significant and recurring defects. Root Cause Corrective Action (RCCA) is where you look at the analysis of problems during RCA and put a corrective action in place, as far upstream in the process as possible. Catching failures upstream saves rework, time, and money. The basic idea is you don’t simply put a bandage on a mortal wound: you attempt to remove the cause of the wound putting some type of corrective action in place (like wearing armor) to prevent the event from happening. A critical piece of implementing the corrective action is to also plan for how you will assess the effectivity of the correction. Without providing for this assessment, you won’t know if your action corrected the underlying problem partially, completely, or not at all. A:
  • 4. ©Seapine Software, Inc. All rights reserved. www.seapine.com4 My team recently started conducting root cause analysis on all P1 and P2 defects, but we’re finding that the analysis and corrective action process is taking too much time given our already-hectic schedules. I’m getting push back from my team as well as upper management, to either speed up the analysis cycle or drop the practice entirely. I believe in the value of RCA and don’t want to abandon it, I’m wondering if there’s a tool that could help us perform root cause analysis faster? Q:
  • 5. ©Seapine Software, Inc. All rights reserved. www.seapine.com5 Many organizations use manual methods to perform root cause analyses, but automated tools can help make the RCA process faster, while exposing gaps and errors that might otherwise have been missed. An automated product development solution can reduce the amount of time spent on RCA, RCCA, code reviews, and other quality improvement efforts. By automatically tracking the product development data needed for process analysis, design for Six Sigma (DFSS), and similar reports, such solutions can cut development costs while improving time to market. Best suited for facilitating RCA and RCCA are product development solutions that give teams the ability to define, capture, and follow the links between requirements and other project artifacts. This can make the RCA process faster and easier, because the data needed to track a problem to its root cause in the process is just a few clicks away. Such solutions also make it easy to analyze the impact of corrective actions taken in response to a root cause analysis, as well as automating traceability matrices and other key reports. You can easily analyze the impact of corrective actions and continually evaluate their effectiveness as processes continue to change and grow in complexity. A:
  • 6. ©Seapine Software, Inc. All rights reserved. www.seapine.com6 Learn More about RCA and TestTrack Download Seapine Software’s white paper, “Using Root Cause Analysis and TestTrack for Powerful Defect Prevention,” to learn how TestTrack makes the RCA process faster and easier by putting vital data just a few clicks away and automating traceability matrices and other key reports. With TestTrack, managers can easily analyze the impact of corrective actions and continually evaluate their effectiveness as processes continue to change and grow in complexity. Download the white paper now. About Seapine Software With more than 8,500 customers worldwide, Seapine Software, Inc. is a leading provider of process-centric product development solutions. Headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, with offices in Europe, Asia-Pacific, and Africa, Seapine’s development solutions help organizations ensure the consistent release of high quality products, while providing traceability, metrics and reporting, and compliance. www.seapine.com

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