Categorise – Step 2 to Getting on Top of Issues

Step 2 – Categorise

This post concentrates on the second step – understanding and applying categories – how to delineate issues, identify root causes, structure failure, undertake diagnosis and triage, deal with location and asset categorisation.

This is the second of six posts that outline in more detail our guide to getting on top of your issues, born out of our experience, frustration and success in managing issues in complex environments.

Delineate issues and accountability

When issues get raised, very naturally the person reporting the issue does not care whose problem it is to fix. They only want it solved – there is nothing worse than a ‘it’s not my problem to fix’ response. It is therefore important to separate the issue reporting process from the issue accountability process, so that it does not hinder and delay the actual process of raising and hence solving the issue.

Root cause identification

Swapping out a fuse may solve an immediate ‘no power’ issue but rarely provides a long term solution. Getting to the actual cause of the issue can be undertaken in a repeatable and structured way using a root cause (RCA) methodology. Using the ‘5 why’s’ can be very helpful in executing this approach. In this way useful information can be gathered to help identify patterns rather than just collect data points.

Structure failure

Things break and accidents happen, failure can be delayed but generally not avoided completely. So structuring the way in which you react is important to reduce time loss and avoid serious complications. Planning for and categorising potential failures is the best way to minimise loss and speed up reaction times. Understanding failure modes through Failure Mode and Effect Analysis (FMEA) methodologies can allow very effective preparation and identify critical resources needed for swift rectification.

Diagnosis and triage

Getting to an issue without any preview can be voyage of discovery and almost certainly a waste of time and effort. Getting some preview of the issue from those raising the problem can save time and money by including them into your initial triage process. However, relying on them without a structured way of helping them to help you can lead to 100 times more reporting error – so providing an issue raising process which captures all the information need is critical to getting ahead.

Location, location, location

The location of an issue is one of the key pieces of information needed when providing a timely response. Structuring your location information in tiers can simplify the issue raising and avoid errors. Building A, corridor 5, room C is a much clearer and easier to convey location than ‘Metrology department – Calibration Lab’ to someone who does not work there!

Categorising your assets

Your assets have many attributes, size, location, capital value and complexity to name a few – but these do not necessarily help inform the management of issue response. Operational throughput, access difficulty, spares lead times may be attributes which can help you better categorise your assets so that you can manage issue response and minimise overall cost and lost time.

Step 3 in this guide will cover how to Organise your issues, exploring rapid response, scaling resources and process improvement.

Further Reading

We have prepared a simple primer from this article with a series of questions to aid your understanding:

One Issue 6 steps – Step 2 Categorise Questionnaire

An overview of the 6 steps has previously been published here .

The steps are 1 Awareness, 2 Categorise, 3 Organise, 4 Implement, 5 Feedback and 6 Monitor.

You may also find these external links useful in exploring these topics further:

Root Cause Analysis for beginners

FMEA reference manual

ISO 55000:2014 Asset Management Standard