Reporting and the 5 Whys

At a recent event I was speaking with someone who said that they were doing all kinds of reporting but it never seemed to make any real difference to their ability to improve the delivery of services.

Reference to the 5 why’s speaks to a style of root cause analysis that asks the question “why” to outline cause and effect.


For Example:
·         The hamburger is cold – why?
·         The order took a long time – why?
·         There was no staff in the restaurant – why?
·         The staffing software did not project the right numbers – why?
·         The system did not receive correct updates – more whys could be asked but you can see where this is going.


While the 5 whys is typically used for root cause, I start to think about how asking why applies to reporting and the gathering of metrics for continual service improvement.


For Example:
·         We had an increase in incidents last month – why?
·         There were more failed changes than normal – why?
·         The lead times for implementations were shorter – why?
·         The business required faster implementations – why?
·         IT needs to be better coordinated with the business to ensure this type of issue doesn’t occur.


More than ever we have the ability to collect all forms of data the question that you have to ask yourselves is what benefit will pulling this information serve. In other words why?


Far too often we extract data in large quantities and are really unable to translate the information in ways in which IT is able to make any type improvement. More is not always better. What we need to ensure is that we align our critical success factors to our businesses goals. From there we can determine what we really need to measure as far as KPI’s in order to make lasting improvements.


So when I asked the person about the data being pulled and said why, there was no real definitive answer to indicate what value the information extracted would provide. It’s not to day that we shouldn’t collect more information than we need, but we need to focus our attention on what outcomes we are trying to achieve with our business partners and then tailor the reporting to line up to those goals. After all, everybody is really busy so spending time focusing on the statistics that matter is time well spent.


Always ask:
·         Why are we reporting on this?
·         What business objectives will this align to?
·         What improvement initiative can we build to achieve the business goals?


Asking questions will allow you to increase your ability to make overall service improvements.