How to Write a Good Problem Statement

Stating the Problem for Root Cause Analysis

The Analysis phase of any improvement project depends on a good problem statement to drive the root cause analysis. Writing a good statement of the problem is easy if you have analyzed the data using one or more pareto charts.

Pareto charts narrow the focus to a few "big bars". Each big bar can become a good problem statement. In the pareto chart below, Timely Filing is the "big bar".

use a pareto to help focus on the root causes

Writing the Problem Statement

It's easy to write a good problem statement using a template I developed many years ago and included in the QI Macros Fishbone Diagram Template.

Template: 
During (time), (big bar on pareto) accounted for XX% of problem which was X higher than desired and caused customer dissatisfaction.

So the problem statement for the pareto chart above would be:
During 2006, Timely Filing accounted for 61.6% of denied insurance claims which was $7.8 million dollars higher than desired and caused significant loss of profit.

Just put this problem statement into the head of the fishbone diagram:

Create these charts and diagrams in just seconds using QI Macros for Excel...