February 23, 2011 | Ken Reed

Root Cause Tip: Speeding up the TapRooT® Investigation Process – Preparation

One of the common questions I get during a TapRooT® course is, “How long should a TapRooT® investigation take?”  Other ways I’ve heard it asked:

Do I have to do all 7 steps in the TapRooT® process?

I’d like to do a really fast (5 minute) investigation, so what steps can I skip?

Is there a TapRooT® Lite?

It is tempting to try to streamline the process by eliminating steps.  After all, the fewer steps, the faster the investigation, right?

Well, what part don’t you want to do well?

– If you don’t want to worry about gathering good information, you can skip the SnapCharT®.
– If you don’t mind missing valuable information in your investigation, again, skip the SnapCharT®.
– If you’re not concerned about unbiased, evidence-based root cause analysis, drop the Root Cause Tree®.
– If you want to continue using poor corrective actions, don’t use the Corrective Action Helper®.

You get my drift.  You can’t skip any of these steps if you want to perform a good investigation.

That being said, this doesn’t mean a TapRooT® investigation must take days.  In fact, if the process is used correctly, TapRooT® investigations will actually take less time than other investigation processes to get the better results you expect from TapRooT®.

The real question is, “How can we efficiently complete a TapRooT® investigation?”  Over the next two weeks, I’m going to give you some ideas on methods you can employ that will help you speed up the investigation process.  This week, let’s start with Investigation Preparation.

One of the best ways to minimize your investigation time is to ensure you are actually ready to perform an investigation when you need to.  When something bad happens, that is not the time to start preparing for your investigation.  There are several things you need to do long before you start your first investigation.

1.  Investigation Policy – It is critical that you and your management team all understand the investigation process at your facility.  You should have a policy in place that discusses:
– When is an investigation required?
– Who is on your teams?
– What resources are available?

All of these items are covered in much more detail in Appendix A of the TapRooT® Book.

2.  Experienced Facilitators – You need to ensure that you have facilitators that are ready to perform the investigation.  These team leaders should be well-trained in the TapRooT® process and experienced in the use of the techniques, and should therefore be 5-Day TapRooT® course graduates.  This well-trained, experienced core team of facilitators will allow you to use more less-experienced investigators as part of a more efficient team.

3.  Well-trained Team Members – The rest of your investigation team pool should also be trained by attending a 2-Day TapRooT® course.

4.  Trained Employees – This doesn’t mean all of you employees should be trained 2-Day TapRooT® users.  However, it is much easier to conduct interviews and gather information if your field personnel have at least some familiarity with the TapRooT® process.

5.  Trained Management – Why waste your time on performing an unbiased, well-documented analysis if your management team just questions and re-writes your results because they don’t understand root cause analysis?  Make sure that your managers understand the TapRooT® process to the extent necessary to make good decisions based on your investigation results.

6.  Investigation Materials – Where are your interview forms?  Do I have a username and password for the TapRooT® software?  Do I have an investigation kit that is ready for me to use when I’m assigned to a team?  Again, Appendix A in the TapRooT® Book discusses what should be included in your kit.

By having these items ready to go before you are required to actually perform an investigation, you will find that your investigations will go much more quickly and efficiently.


Editor’s note: Don’t miss the second column in this three-week series, “Speeding up the TapRooT® Investigation Process – SnapCharT®.”  The column will post on the blog next Wednesday.

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