Casual Analysis and Resolution (CAR)  Category: Support

Notes:

        The contents of this web page were extracted from the following document: Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMISM), Version 1.1, Continuous Representation, CMU/SEI-2002-TR-011, March 2002 (CMMI-SE/SW/IPPD/SS). Copyright 2002 by Carnegie Mellon University. NO WARRANTY.

        Ignore the identifiers in square brackets that appear at the end of paragraphs.

        The formatting may not be the same as in the printed CMMI document. The web page is best viewed in Internet Explorer.

        In the CMMI, a subset is known as a "Process Area (PA)" and a requirement is known as a "Practice". The specific practices are referred to as SPs and the generic practices are referred to as GPs.

        This web page contains the text for SPs and GPs as it appears in Chapter 7 of the CMMI document, in the section corresponding to the process area named in the heading of this page. This web page does not include the detailed description of the GPs that appears in a separate chapter of the CMMI document; the detailed description of the GPs is available in a separate web page. (Note: Using the hyperlink provided here will open that web page in a separate window.)

Purpose   The purpose of Causal Analysis and Resolution is to identify causes of defects and other problems and take action to prevent them from occurring in the future.  [PA155]

Introductory Notes  The Causal Analysis and Resolution process area involves the following:  [PA155.N101]

           Identifying and analyzing causes of defects and other problems

           Taking specific actions to remove the causes and prevent the occurrence of those types of defects and problems in the future

Causal analysis and resolution improves quality and productivity by preventing the introduction of defects into a product. Reliance on detecting defects after they have been introduced is not cost effective. It is more effective to prevent defects from being introduced by integrating causal analysis and resolution activities into each phase of the project.  [PA155.N102]

Since defects and problems may have been previously encountered on other projects or in earlier phases or tasks of the current project, causal analysis and resolution activities are a mechanism for communicating lessons learned among projects.  [PA155.N103]

The types of defects and other problems encountered are analyzed to identify any trends. Based on an understanding of the defined process and how it is implemented, the root causes of the defects and the future implications of the defects are determined.  [PA155.N104]

Causal analysis may also be performed on problems unrelated to defects. For example, causal analysis may be used to improve quality attributes such as cycle time. Improvement proposals, simulations, dynamic systems models, engineering analyses, new business directives, or other items may initiate such analysis.  [PA155.N105]

Sometimes it may be impractical to perform causal analysis on all defects. In these cases, tradeoffs are made between estimated investments and estimated returns in quality, productivity, and cycle time, and defect targets are selected.  [PA155.N106]

A measurement process should already be in place. The defined measures can be used, though in some instances new measures may be needed to analyze the effects of the process change.  [PA155.N107]

Refer to the Measurement and Analysis process area for more information about establishing objectives for measurement and analysis, specifying the measures and analyses to be performed, obtaining and analyzing measures, and reporting results.  [PA155.N107.R101]

Causal Analysis and Resolution activities provide a mechanism for projects to evaluate their processes at the local level and look for improvements that can be implemented.  [PA155.N108]

When improvements are judged to be effective, the information is extended to the organizational level.  [PA155.N109]

Refer to the Organizational Innovation and Deployment process area for more information about improving organizational level processes through proposed improvements and action proposals.  [PA155.N109.R101]

The informative material in this process area is written with the assumption that the specific practices are applied to a quantitatively managed process. The specific practices of this process area may be applicable, but with reduced value, if the assumption is not met.  [PA155.N110]

See the definitions of “stable process” and “common cause of process variation” in Appendix C, the glossary.  [PA155.N111]

Refer to the Quantitative Project Management process area for more information about the analysis of process performance and the creation of process capability measures for selected project processes.  [PA155.R101]

Refer to the Organizational Innovation and Deployment process area for more information about the selection and deployment of improvements to organizational processes and technologies.  [PA155.R102]

Refer to the Measurement and Analysis process area for more information about establishing objectives for measurement and analysis, specifying the measures and analyses to be performed, obtaining and analyzing measures, and reporting results.  [PA155.R103]

Specific Goals

SG 1           Determine Causes of Defects  [PA155.IG101]

                   Root causes of defects and other problems are systematically determined.

SG 2           Address Causes of Defects  [PA155.IG102]

                   Root causes of defects and other problems are systematically addressed to prevent their future occurrence.

Generic Goals

GG 1           Achieve Specific Goals   [CL102.GL101]

                   The process supports and enables achievement of the specific goals of the process area by transforming identifiable input work products to produce identifiable output work products.

GG 2           Institutionalize a Managed Process  [CL103.GL101]

                   The process is institutionalized as a managed process.

GG 3           Institutionalize a Defined Process  [CL104.GL101]

                   The process is institutionalized as a defined process.

GG 4           Institutionalize a Quantitatively Managed Process  [CL105.GL101]

                   The process is institutionalized as a quantitatively managed process.

GG 5           Institutionalize an Optimizing Process  [CL106.GL101]

                   The process is institutionalized as an optimizing process.

Practice-to-Goal Relationship Table

SG 1 Determine Causes of Defects  [PA155.IG101]

SP 1.1-1      Select Defect Data for Analysis

SP 1.2-1      Analyze Causes

SG 2 Address Causes of Defects  [PA155.IG102]

SP 2.1-1      Implement the Action Proposals

SP 2.2-1      Evaluate the Effect of Changes

SP 2.3-1      Record Data

GG 1 Achieve Specific Goals   [CL102.GL101]

GP 1.1        Perform Base Practices

GG 2 Institutionalize a Managed Process  [CL103.GL101]

GP 2.1        Establish an Organizational Policy

GP 2.2        Plan the Process

GP 2.3        Provide Resources

GP 2.4        Assign Responsibility

GP 2.5        Train People

GP 2.6        Manage Configurations

GP 2.7        Identify and Involve Relevant Stakeholders

GP 2.8        Monitor and Control the Process

GP 2.9        Objectively Evaluate Adherence

GP 2.10      Review Status with Higher Level Management

GG 3 Institutionalize a Defined Process  [CL104.GL101]

GP 3.1        Establish a Defined Process

GP 3.2        Collect Improvement Information

GG 4 Institutionalize a Quantitatively Managed Process  [CL105.GL101]

GP 4.1        Establish Quantitative Objectives for the Process

GP 4.2        Stabilize Subprocess Performance

GG 5 Institutionalize an Optimizing Process  [CL106.GL101]

GP 5.1        Ensure Continuous Process Improvement

GP 5.2        Correct Root Causes of Problems

Specific Practices by Goal

SG 1           Determine Causes of Defects

                   Root causes of defects and other problems are systematically determined.  [PA155.IG101]

A root cause is a source of a defect such that if it is removed, the defect is decreased or removed.  [PA155.IG101.N101]

SP 1.1-1      Select Defect Data for Analysis

Select the defects and other problems for analysis.  [PA155.IG101.SP101]

Typical Work Products

1.    Defect and problem data selected for further analysis  [PA155.IG101.SP101.W101]

Subpractices

1.    Gather relevant defect data.  [PA155.IG101.SP101.SubP101]

Examples of relevant defect data may include the following:  [PA155.IG101.SP101.SubP101.N101]

       Project management problem reports requiring corrective action

       Defects reported by the customer

       Defects reported by end user

       Defects found in peer reviews

       Defects found in testing

       Process capability problems

 

Refer to the Verification process area for more information about work product verification.  [PA155.IG101.SP101.SubP101.N101.R101]

Refer to the Quantitative Project Management process area for more information about statistical management.  [PA155.IG101.SP101.SubP101.N101.R102]

2.    Determine which defects and other problems will be analyzed further.  [PA155.IG101.SP101.SubP102]

When determining which defects to analyze further, consider the impact of the defects, the frequency of occurrence, the similarity between defects, the cost of analysis, the time and resources needed, safety considerations, etc.  [PA155.IG101.SP101.SubP102.N101]

Examples of methods for selecting defects and other problems include the following:  [PA155.IG101.SP101.SubP102.N102]

       Pareto analysis

       Histograms

       Process capability analysis

 

SP 1.2-1      Analyze Causes

Perform causal analysis of selected defects and other problems and propose actions to address them.  [PA155.IG101.SP102]

The purpose of this analysis is to develop solutions to the identified problems by analyzing the relevant data and producing action proposals for implementation.  [PA155.IG101.SP102.N101]

Typical Work Products

1.    Action proposal  [PA155.IG101.SP102.W101]

Subpractices

1.    Conduct causal analysis with the people who are responsible for performing the task.  [PA155.IG101.SP102.SubP101]

Causal analysis is performed with those people who have an understanding of the selected defect or problem under study, typically in meetings. The people who have the best understanding of the selected defect are typically those responsible for performing the task.  [PA155.IG101.SP102.SubP101.N102]

Examples of when to perform causal analysis include the following:  [PA155.IG101.SP102.SubP101.N101]

       When a stable process does not meet its specified quality and process-performance objectives

       During the task, if and when problems warrant additional meetings

       When a work product exhibits an unexpected deviation from its requirements

 

Refer to the Quantitative Project Management process area for more information about achieving the project’s quality and process-performance objectives.  [PA155.IG101.SP102.SubP101.N101.R101]

2.    Analyze selected defects and other problems to determine their root causes.  [PA155.IG101.SP102.SubP102]

Depending on the type and number of defects, it may make sense to first group the defects before identifying their root causes.  [PA155.IG101.SP102.SubP102.N102]

Examples of methods to determine root causes include the following:  [PA155.IG101.SP102.SubP102.N101]

       Cause-and-effect (fishbone) diagrams

       Check sheets

 

3.    Group the selected defects and other problems based on their root causes.  [PA155.IG101.SP102.SubP103]

Examples of cause groups, or categories, include the following:  [PA155.IG101.SP102.SubP103.N101]

       Inadequate training

       Breakdown of communications

       Not accounting for all details of the task

       Making mistakes in manual procedures (e.g., typing)

       Process deficiency

 

4.    Propose and document actions that need to be taken to prevent the future occurrence of similar defects or other problems.  [PA155.IG101.SP102.SubP104]

Examples of proposed actions include changes to the following:  [PA155.IG101.SP102.SubP104.N101]

       The process in question

       Training

       Tools

       Methods

       Communications

       Work products

 

Examples of specific actions include the following:  [PA155.IG101.SP102.SubP104.N102]

       Providing training in common problems and techniques for preventing them

       Changing a process so that error-prone steps do not occur

       Automating all or part of a process

       Reordering process activities

       Adding process steps to prevent defects, such as task kickoff meetings to review common defects and actions to prevent them

 

An action proposal usually documents the following:  [PA155.IG101.SP102.SubP104.N103]

       Originator of the action proposal

       Description of the problem

       Description of the defect cause

       Defect cause category

       Phase when the problem was introduced

       Phase when the defect was identified

       Description of the action proposal

       Action proposal category

SG 2           Address Causes of Defects

                   Root causes of defects and other problems are systematically addressed to prevent their future occurrence.  [PA155.IG102]

Projects operating according to a well-defined process will systematically analyze the operation where problems still occur and implement process changes to eliminate root causes of selected problems.  [PA155.IG102.N101]

SP 2.1-1      Implement the Action Proposals

Implement the selected action proposals that were developed in causal analysis.  [PA155.IG102.SP101]

Action proposals describe the tasks necessary to remove the root causes of the analyzed defects or problems and avoid their reoccurrence.  [PA155.IG102.SP101.N101]

Only changes that prove to be of value should be considered for broad implementation.  [PA155.IG102.SP101.N102]

Typical Work Products

1.    Action proposals selected for implementation  [PA155.IG102.SP101.W101]

2.    Improvement proposals  [PA155.IG102.SP101.W102]

Subpractices

1.    Analyze the action proposals and determine their priorities.  [PA155.IG102.SP101.SubP101]

Criteria for prioritizing action proposals include the following:  [PA155.IG102.SP101.SubP101.N101]

       Implications of not addressing the defects

       Cost to implement process improvements to prevent the defects

       Expected impact on quality

2.    Select the action proposals that will be implemented.  [PA155.IG102.SP101.SubP102]

3.    Create action items for implementing the action proposals.  [PA155.IG102.SP101.SubP103]

Examples of information provided in an action item include the following:  [PA155.IG102.SP101.SubP103.N101]

       Person responsible for implementing it

       Description of the areas affected by it

       People who are to be kept informed of its status

       Next date that status will be reviewed

       Rationale for key decisions

       Description of implementation actions

       Time and cost for identifying the defect and correcting it

       Estimated cost of not fixing the problem

 

To implement the action proposals, the following tasks must be done:  [PA155.IG102.SP101.SubP103.N102]

       Make assignments

       Coordinate the persons doing the work

       Review the results

       Track the action items to closure

Experiments may be conducted for particularly complex changes.  [PA155.IG102.SP101.SubP103.N103]

Examples of experiments include the following:  [PA155.IG102.SP101.SubP103.N105]

       Using a temporarily modified process

       Using a new tool

 

Action items may be assigned to members of the causal analysis team, members of the project team, or other members of the organization.  [PA155.IG102.SP101.SubP103.N104]

4.    Identify and remove similar defects that may exist in other processes and work products.  [PA155.IG102.SP101.SubP104]

5.    Identify and document improvement proposals for the organization’s set of standard processes.  [PA155.IG102.SP101.SubP105]

Refer to the Organizational Innovation and Deployment process area for more information about the selection and deployment of improvement proposals for the organization’s set of standard processes.  [PA155.IG102.SP101.SubP105.R101]

SP 2.2-1      Evaluate the Effect of Changes

Evaluate the effect of changes on process performance.  [PA155.IG102.SP102]

Refer to the Quantitative Project Management process area for more information about analyzing process performance and creating process capability measures for selected processes.  [PA155.IG102.SP102.R101]

Once the changed process is deployed across the project, the effect of the changes must be checked to gather evidence that the process change has corrected the problem and improved performance.  [PA155.IG102.SP102.N101]

Typical Work Products

1.    Measures of performance and performance change  [PA155.IG102.SP102.W101]

Subpractices

1.    Measure the change in the performance of the project's defined process as appropriate.  [PA155.IG102.SP102.SubP101]

This subpractice determines whether the selected change has positively influenced the process performance and by how much.  [PA155.IG102.SP102.SubP101.N101]

An example of a change in the performance of the project’s defined design process would be the change in the defect density of the design documentation, as statistically measured through peer reviews before and after the improvement has been made. On a statistical process control chart, this would be represented by a change in the mean.  [PA155.IG102.SP102.SubP101.N102]

 

2.    Measure the capability of the project's defined process as appropriate.  [PA155.IG102.SP102.SubP102]

This subpractice determines whether the selected change has positively influenced the ability of the process to meet its quality and process-performance objectives, as determined by relevant stakeholders.  [PA155.IG102.SP102.SubP102.N101]

An example of a change in the capability of the project’s defined design process would be a change in the ability of the process to stay within its process-specification boundaries. This can be statistically measured by calculating the range of the defect density of design documentation, as collected in peer reviews before and after the improvement has been made. On a statistical process control chart, this would be represented by lowered control limits.  [PA155.IG102.SP102.SubP102.N102]

 

SP 2.3-1      Record Data

Record causal analysis and resolution data for use across the project and organization.  [PA155.IG102.SP103]

Data are recorded so that other projects and organizations can make appropriate process changes and achieve similar results.  [PA155.IG102.SP103.N101]

Record the following:  [PA155.IG102.SP103.N102]

           Data on defects and other problems that were analyzed

           Rationale for decisions

           Action proposals from causal analysis meetings

           Action items resulting from action proposals

           Cost of the analysis and resolution activities

           Measures of changes to the performance of the defined process resulting from resolutions

Typical Work Products

1.    Causal analysis and resolution records  [PA155.IG102.SP103.W101]

Generic Practices by Goal

(Note: The detailed description of the GPs is available in a separate web page. Using the hyperlink provided here will open that web page in a separate window. However, the GP elaborations pertinent to the process area of this web page are available below.)

GG 1           Achieve Specific Goals

                   The process supports and enables achievement of the specific goals of the process area by transforming identifiable input work products to produce identifiable output work products.

GP 1.1        Perform Base Practices

Perform the base practices of the causal analysis and resolution process to develop work products and provide services to achieve the specific goals of the process area.  [GP102]

GG 2           Institutionalize a Managed Process

                   The process is institutionalized as a managed process.

GP 2.1        Establish an Organizational Policy

Establish and maintain an organizational policy for planning and performing the causal analysis and resolution process.  [GP103]

Elaboration:

This policy establishes organizational expectations for identifying and systematically addressing root causes of defects and other problems.  [PA155.EL101]

GP 2.2        Plan the Process

Establish and maintain the plan for performing the causal analysis and resolution process.  [GP104]

Elaboration:

This plan for performing the causal analysis and resolution process differs from the action proposals and associated action plans described in the specific practice in this process area. The plan called for in this generic process would address the organization’s overall causal analysis and resolution process. In contrast, the process action proposals and associated action plans address the activities needed to remove the root cause under study.  [PA155.EL111]

GP 2.3        Provide Resources

Provide adequate resources for performing the causal analysis and resolution process, developing the work products, and providing the services of the process.  [GP105]

Elaboration:

Examples of resources provided include the following tools:  [PA155.EL102]

           Database systems

           Process modeling tools

           Statistical analysis packages

           Tools, methods, and analysis techniques (e.g., Ishakawa or fishbone diagram, Pareto analysis, histograms, process capability studies, control charts)

 

GP 2.4        Assign Responsibility

Assign responsibility and authority for performing the process, developing the work products, and providing the services of the causal analysis and resolution process.  [GP106]

GP 2.5        Train People

Train the people performing or supporting the causal analysis and resolution process as needed.  [GP107]

Elaboration:

Examples of training topics include the following:  [PA155.EL103]

           Quality management methods (e.g., root cause analysis)

 

GP 2.6        Manage Configurations

Place designated work products of the causal analysis and resolution process under appropriate levels of configuration management.  [GP109]

Elaboration:

Examples of work products placed under configuration management include the following:  [PA155.EL104]

           Action proposals

           Action proposals selected for implementation

           Causal analysis and resolution records

 

GP 2.7        Identify and Involve Relevant Stakeholders

Identify and involve the relevant stakeholders of the causal analysis and resolution process as planned.  [GP124]

Elaboration:

Examples of activities for stakeholder involvement include the following:  [PA155.EL110]

           Conducting causal analysis

           Assessing the action proposals

 

GP 2.8        Monitor and Control the Process

Monitor and control the causal analysis and resolution process against the plan for performing the process and take appropriate corrective action.  [GP110]

Elaboration:

Examples of measures used in monitoring and controlling include the following:  [PA155.EL105]

           Number of root causes removed

           Change in quality or process performance per instance of the causal analysis and resolution process

 

GP 2.9        Objectively Evaluate Adherence

Objectively evaluate adherence of the causal analysis and resolution process against its process description, standards, and procedures, and address noncompliance.  [GP113]

Elaboration:

Examples of activities reviewed include the following:  [PA155.EL106]

           Determining causes of defects

           Addressing causes of defects

 

Examples of work products reviewed include the following:  [PA155.EL109]

           Action proposals selected for implementation

           Causal analysis and resolution records

 

GP 2.10      Review Status with Higher Level Management

Review the activities, status, and results of the causal analysis and resolution process with higher level management and resolve issues.  [GP112]

GG 3           Institutionalize a Defined Process

                   The process is institutionalized as a defined process.

GP 3.1        Establish a Defined Process

Establish and maintain the description of a defined causal analysis and resolution process.  [GP114]

GP 3.2        Collect Improvement Information

Collect work products, measures, measurement results, and improvement information derived from planning and performing the causal analysis and resolution process to support the future use and improvement of the organization’s processes and process assets.  [GP117]

GG 4           Institutionalize a Quantitatively Managed Process

                   The process is institutionalized as a quantitatively managed process.

GP 4.1        Establish Quantitative Objectives for the Process

Establish and maintain quantitative objectives for the causal analysis and resolution process that address quality and process performance based on customer needs and business objectives.  [GP118]

GP 4.2        Stabilize Subprocess Performance

Stabilize the performance of one or more subprocesses to determine the ability of the causal analysis and resolution process to achieve the established quantitative quality and process-performance objectives.  [GP119]

GG 5           Institutionalize an Optimizing Process

                   The process is institutionalized as an optimizing process.

GP 5.1        Ensure Continuous Process Improvement

Ensure continuous improvement of the causal analysis and resolution process in fulfilling the relevant business objectives of the organization.  [GP125]

GP 5.2        Correct Root Causes of Problems

Identify and correct the root causes of defects and other problems in the causal analysis and resolution process.  [GP121]