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Cause-Effect Analysis

The cause-effect analysis is a systematic method for identifying and investigating problems or defects in processes. It helps to determine the causes of a particular problem or event and to understand the relationship between these causes and their effects on the system. The analysis aims to solve the underlying problems and bring about improvements in the affected processes.

Detailed Contents

The cause-effect analysis is an important approach in the field of quality management and process optimization. It is also referred to as a cause-and-effect diagram, fishbone diagram, or Ishikawa diagram. The term cause-effect analysis goes back to the Japanese chemical engineer Kaoru Ishikawa, who developed this method in the 1960s.

Basic Principles and Objectives

The cause-effect analysis is based on the assumption that problems and defects in processes can be traced back to specific causes that can be identified and eliminated. The main objectives of the analysis are:

  • Identifying the main causes of a problem or defect
  • Investigating the relationships between causes and effects
  • Developing approaches to eliminate the causes and improve the processes

Procedure for Cause-Effect Analysis

The cause-effect analysis follows a structured approach that takes place in the following steps:

  1. Problem Definition: First, the problem or defect to be investigated is precisely described and defined. This ensures that the analysis focuses on the relevant aspects.
  3. Creation of the Cause-Effect Diagram: Subsequently, a diagram is created that represents the possible causes and their effects on the problem. The causes are divided into main and secondary causes and shown in a fishbone diagram. The main causes are usually divided into the following categories: people, methods, machines, materials, environment, and management.
  5. Identification of Main Causes: Through systematic analysis of the diagram, the main causes of the problem are determined, taking into account possible interconnections and dependencies between the causes.
  7. Development of Solution Approaches: Based on the identified main causes, measures are developed to eliminate the causes and improve the affected processes.
  9. Implementation and Control: The developed solutions are put into practice and their effectiveness is checked. The cause-effect analysis can also be used for the continuous improvement of processes.

Areas of Application and Benefits

The cause-effect analysis is used in various areas, such as in production, quality management, project management, or customer service. It offers the following benefits:

  • Determining systemic causes for problems and defects
  • Promoting systematic and structured thinking in problem-solving
  • Involving all persons and departments involved in the analysis process
  • Improving process quality and reducing errors and problems

Example of a Cause-Effect Analysis

An example of the application of cause-effect analysis is the investigation of quality problems in a company's production. Suppose there is an increased occurrence of defective products leading to complaints. In this case, cause-effect analysis could help identify the reasons for these defects and initiate appropriate improvement measures.


The cause-effect analysis is an effective method for identifying and eliminating problems and defects in processes. By systematically investigating the causes and their effects on the system, sustainable improvements can be achieved. The use of the analysis is suitable for companies and organizations that want to increase their process quality and efficiency.