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Root Cause Analysis through 5-Whys


Many of us are aware that Breakdowns leading to Production losses draw attention of Senior Management as well as QMS audit people. Very frequently asked question by these authorities is What is the Root Cause? Also Many of us know about a very common and effective approach to reach at this Root Cause is through the method of asking Why 5 times. (5-Why method). It is said that by receiving answer to the 5th Why on the Breakdown reason, we would be arriving at the Root Cause.  (It is quite possible that we arrive at Root Cause well before answering the 5th Why.)


We are discussing in this document about an idea implemented to map this process of Root Cause Analysis, making use of Catalogs & Codes. We will be able to show to the Authorities, the Root Cause Analysis done on vital breakdowns.

Here we see how to go about it


Make few Code-Groups and Codes as under through Tcode QS41 (and Transport to other clients)


Root Cause Analysis

For demonstration, we have taken a simple case of EME vehicle not starting, on which we had already created a Malfunction Notification. See this Graphic to understand the 5-Why Analysis.


Now let’s do it in the system with the help of the codes created above. Go to the Catalogs & Codes Tab of this Notification, give the Object part and Damage details and enter the Causes Tab page. See the picture how we used the above codes to perform 5-Why analysis .


So the Root Cause we have Arrived at is Training not Given. Note: If needed, you can write long-texts against each code-Text.

Now Go to Activities tab and record this way:


Here too Long texts can be used.

All done.

Now we can show the Authorities, the Analysis we do on vital Breakdowns.

Further, to show it in an impressive Lay-out, and system generated PDF formats, we can go for a Smartform as I opted for (shown below)


I need not explain the picture above, it is self-explanatory. This Samrtform was integrated to custom reports of Breakdown Analysis When clicked on a CAPA cell against a Notification, system presents you the above screen.


The coding part (QS41), will be customized by Readers as per their situation. Bottom line is how we map the 5-Why process using the SAP objects. Hope this share will be useful to members.

Thank you


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  • wow nice sir, after seen this document no need to go for capa development ,developing a separate tab in notification every time.but one thing wht abt tasks tab sir when ur doing CAPA Tasks tab is also need i think bcoz which kind of action have been performed is also important


    Madhava Krishna.S

    • Hi Madhava,

      It is as per your requirement. To simplify document I did not deal with Tasks . We had Tasks too. Off late we felt Tasks info not required for Smartform,  so this has been removed. As per the output I described the process. Because you understood this document well, you can understand the usage of Task-codes also those can be maintained as per your situation. We have these Task-codes.


      Thanks for the appreciation Madhav.

      Jogeswara Rao K

  • Thank you sir, bcoz why I asked this question means  CAPA  tab in Notification is a developed in my client .requirment is suppose a equipment got breakdown in a month 5 times,here main point is every breakdown they will note the cause and which kind of operation performed even same breakdown will occurs means they will change the task performed on that equipment, here tracking is only through tasks they i dentify that next time  this task is useless to perform on equipment bcoz breakdown is occuring contineously even performing the task like here client is performing sir, any how it is a useful document for me


    Madhava Krishna.S

  • Hi

    It is very useful to implement WHY-5? analysis through SAP.

    It is always interesting to read you post and documents. You always come up new ways for  using existing tool of SAP.



    • Hi WARRIOR,

      Many thanks to you for the motivating words. Such comments are the root causes for your observations about my posts.


      Jogeswara Rao K

  • Hi,

    every organization having interest in Topline and Bottomline i.e. Gross sales and net profit,

    Implementation of lean manufacturing techniques in manufacturing industry is the challenging works, You have done it.Your contribution help in increase the bottomline.

    Nice work,

    My thums up for your sharing,

    Best Regards,


  • Thanks for reminding me again about this technique! I learned during my ‘lean leadership program’ and I really think it is great to go deeper into where the problem really is. I use it rather in a business context – not so much in a technology context. For me it is sometimes the challenge to stop at the right moment in time with the ‘why’ question. When you overdo it, the reason turns usually out to be a very holistic one, that is nearly impossible to tackle, as it is too big.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Ursula,

      I must say these observations of yours about this technique are apt. I fully agree with the probability of overdoing. Here we must agree that there is no substitute for human intelligence.

      Also it is very true that these Why-Whys are relevant to all aspects of life.

      Thanks for your time and such a good review.

      Jogeswara Rao K

  • SIr ji,

    as we know, we donot do Y Y analysis & fill CAPA for every BD. For that we can set YY analysis need flag based on the organization rule manaually or automatically.

    Document is good as always 🙂



    • Good question with answers often lying with the Company itself. Also the answer is often is driven by the external audit agencies. Whether external or internal, the norm depends upon factors like

      How critical the equipment is?


      How much impact the Production had due to this BDn

      For example a company does this for

      1. 100% BDns on Category A equipments (ABC indicator).


      2. BDns on Category B Equipment where the Downtime exceeds 60 minutes.

      Hope this answers Santosh !.

      Also thanks for the praise

      Jogeswara Rao K

      • For this purpose, i have done Flagging of breakdown notification using priority field Required YY analysis, moderate, casual. Default is Casual priority,

        This is helpful to find out the YY analysis & CAPA required & done Breakdown notification.

        We are used SAP script to print YY analysis & CAPA form.

        If needed print the form or else it is in system 🙂

  • Had an entire course on this that our Black Belts performed. The one thing that stuck with me was the saying “If you go past 5 Why’s, you are practically a philosopher.”

  • Sir

    Why do we use corrective action and preventive action in activities?

    Same can be used in task, as there are some preventive actions which are required to be done over a period of time and we can track if the point is completed or not in task, as there is task release and complete flag which is not available in activities…

    • This document is not centered at the Hows of CA or PA or RCA. This is centered at how to make use of Catalogs & Codes and Reporting techniques (smartform) for mapping the SOP guidelines prescribed by agencies like ISO9000 QMS / IMS auditors etc. You can have your own logic for analysis and henceforth the CA, PA, RCA system and accordingly you can have the Catalogs and Codes. We mapped it that way as suggested by an external auditor.


  • Jogeswara,

    Nice idea given…. This document and its concept will be very helpful to me in my next implementation…

    Thanks for sharing this view… It will be very much helpful to all consultants…

    Follwong this post 🙂 ….



Comments are closed.