Root cause analysis can be a fairly data-intensive process. You need a way to store, organize, and track individual pieces of data. On top of that, you’ve got to be able to relate individual pieces of data to each other in a logical fashion. You can do this the old-fashioned way, using pencil and paper (or index cards, or sticky notes). You could also use computer software to accomplish the same thing. In this article, I’ll provide links to specialized investigation and/or root cause analysis software packages for which free demonstration packages are available.
Please note the following before jumping into the list:
- This list is not exhaustive — there are packages available that I haven’t listed. If you know of one, please contact me, and I might add it to the list. If you have any trouble accessing anything on the list, please let me know.
- I’m only listing packages that are marketed as software for incident investigation or root cause analysis, and are either free (no examples yet), or have freely available demonstration versions available for download.
- None of these software packages are necessary for performing incident investigation and/or root cause analysis. I use widely-available office productivity software (spreadsheet, flow-chart, database) to accomplish most (if not all) of what these packages claim to offer.
- By listing a package here, I am not endorsing its use or purchase.
- I’m not involved in the development or distribution of any of these packages, nor do I use any of them.
- You are responsible for your own choice of software. I am merely providing a list of what’s available; what you do with it is your own business, and the results you get are your own fault!
Now, on to the list. Software is for the Microsoft Windows platform unless otherwise noted. (Links updated/verified 23-Sep-2014.)
- Investigation Catalyst – Starline Software (MacOS only!)
- Proact – Reliability Center
- RealityCharting - Apollo Root Cause
- CauseLink - Sologic (added to list 23-Sep-2014)
- Reason – Decision Systems
Root Cause Leader from ABS Consulting(no longer available, but check this for info about a potential replacement)
Not a huge selection, I know. I’m working on expanding this list, but keep in mind that I’m only interested in providing links to packages that have demo versions available for free download. I ruled out a few packages because they didn’t meet this basic criterion.
In closing, I’d like to say again that you don’t need any of these software packages to perform a root cause analysis or an incident investigation. Specialized software may make the overall task somewhat easier, but only if the investigation/analysis model embedded in the package matches the investigation/analysis model you have adopted. In fact, by choosing to use one of these packages, you may be limiting yourself to a model that may (or may not!) meet your needs… so do your homework before spending any money!
p.s. Please contact me if you think I should list another package, or if you have trouble accessing any of the demos listed above!
by Bill Wilson