Perform causal analysis of selected outcomes and propose actions to address them.


The purpose of this analysis is to define actions that will address selected outcomes by analyzing relevant outcome data and producing action proposals for implementation.

Example Work Products

  1. Root cause analysis results
  2. Action proposal


1. Conduct causal analysis with those who are responsible for performing the task.

Causal analysis is performed, typically in meetings, with those who understand the selected outcome under study. Those who have the best understanding of the selected outcome are typically those who are responsible for performing the task. The analysis is most effective when applied to real time data, as close as possible to the event which triggered the outcome.


Examples of when to perform causal analysis include the following:
  • When a stable subprocess does not meet its specified quality and process performance objectives, or when a subprocess needs to be stabilized
  • During the task, if and when problems warrant a causal analysis meeting
  • When a work product exhibits an unexpected deviation from its requirements
  • When more defects than anticipated escape from earlier phases to the current phase
  • When process performance exceeds expectations
  • At the start of a new phase or task

Refer to the Quantitative Project Management (QPM) (CMMI-DEV) process area for more information about performing root cause analysis.

2. Analyze selected outcomes to determine their root causes.

Analysis of process performance baselines and models can aid in the identification of potential root causes.

Depending on the type and number of outcomes, it can be beneficial to look at the outcomes in several ways to ensure all potential root causes are investigated. Consider looking at individual outcomes as well as grouping the outcomes.


Examples of methods to determine root causes include the following:
  • Cause-and-effect (fishbone) diagrams
  • Check sheets

3. Combine selected outcomes into groups based on their root causes.

In some cases, outcomes can be influenced by multiple root causes.


Examples of cause groups or categories include the following:
  • Inadequate training and skills
  • Breakdown of communication
  • Not accounting for all details of a task
  • Making mistakes in manual procedures (e.g., keyboard entry)
  • Process deficiency
Where appropriate, look for trends or symptoms in or across groupings.

4. Create an action proposal that documents actions to be taken to prevent the future occurrence of similar outcomes or to incorporate best practices into processes.

Process performance models can support cost benefit analysis of action proposals through prediction of impacts and return on investment.


Examples of proposed preventative actions include changes to the following:
  • The process in question
  • Training
  • Tools
  • Methods
  • Work products


Examples of incorporating best practices include the following:
  • Creating activity checklists, which reinforce training or communications related to 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, such as task kickoff meetings to review common problems as well as actions to prevent them


An action proposal usually documents the following:
  • Originator of the action proposal
  • Description of the outcome to be addressed
  • Description of the cause
  • Cause category
  • Phase identified
  • Description of the action
  • Time, cost, and other resources required to implement the action proposal
  • Expected benefits from implementing the action proposal
  • Estimated cost of not fixing the problem
  • Action proposal category