Learn the in's and out's of the 5 Why's Analysis and how it ties into investigations. This useful tool can help you get to the root cause of issues more quickly.

Investigations ­­­­

If deemed necessary, you have the option to open a 5 Whys Analysis in your report using the Investigations tile from the Report Management page.

5 Whys Analysis

Have you ever had a problem that refused to go away? No matter what you did, sooner or later it would return, perhaps in another form.

Stubborn or recurrent problems are often symptoms of deeper issues. "Quick fixes" may seem convenient, but they often solve only the surface issues and waste resources that could otherwise be used to tackle the real cause.

In this article, we look at the 5 Whys technique (sometimes known as 5Y). This is a simple but powerful tool for cutting quickly through the outward symptoms of a problem to reveal its underlying causes so that you can deal with it once and for all.

Wait, what does that mean?

The 5 Whys root cause analysis is a technique used to explore the cause-and-effect relationships underlying a particular problem. The primary goal of the technique is to determine the root cause of a problem by repeating the question "Why?" Each answer forms the basis of the next question. The "five" in the name derives from an anecdotal observation on the number of repetitions needed to resolve the problem.


Issue Statement: An employee is on their way to a client site and the company car stops in the middle of the road.

  1. Why did the car stop?
    Because it ran out of gas.
  2. Why did it run out of gas?
    Because employee didn’t buy any gas before heading to the site.
  3. Why didn’t the employee buy any gas?
    Because they didn’t have any money.
  4. Why didn’t they have any money?
    Because they were not given a company gas card.
  5. Why were they not given a company gas card?
    Because our gas cards have not been distributed to employees yet.

As you can see, in this example the final "Why" leads the team to a statement (root cause) that the team can take action upon. While the concept is called a “5 Why’s” there is not a requirement to do all five and there is not a limit at five. The key is to use enough “Why’s” to reach an actionable conclusion.

Starting a 5 Whys Analysis

To begin the investigation from the Report Management page, click on the Open Investigation tile on the left-hand side of the page. This will open the 5 Whys Analysis section on the right of the screen.

Role Tabs

There will be five tabs under the heading. The first four tabs are available for different “roles” to complete. This tab indicates the role of the person who is filling out the investigation section of the report. The default labeling of the first four tabs is Operations, Maintenance, Safety, and Other. These first four tabs can be customized by your Sospes admin so they may be labeled differently for you.

Below, they are labeled Supervisor, Department Supervisor/Manager, General Manager, Other:

Example: The supervisor would click on the Supervisor tab to complete their section of the investigation. The general manager would click the General Manager tab to fill out their section of the investigation and so on. If the person filling out the investigation does not have any of the roles listed, they will click Other to complete their section of the report.

Completing an Investigation

Click on the tab at the top for the role of the person completing the 5 Whys Analysis. This will open up an investigation report with various fields to complete.

 Issue Statement

  • Click on the text box under Issue Statement.
  • Type the problem or incident that occurred.

Assign To (Employee)

  • Next to Assign To click the text box and a drop-box containing all employee names will appear.
  • Scroll down the list until you find the employee name and then click the name to select. If you will be the one completing this investigation, find your name from the list and select it.
  • You can also search for an employee’s name by clicking SEARCH and being typing the employee’s name until it appears on the list.
  • To the right of the drop-down text box, click Assign to attach this investigation to that individual. This will create a task associated with this investigation and the identified employee that Sospes will begin tracking.

 Filling out the 5 Whys

To fill out the 5 Whys, verify that it is assigned to you in the Assigned To box. Then begin filling out the first Why. Then fill out the corresponding Because. This will be your Why #1, to begin your Why #2 click Next Question.

To Delete a Why
Each Why/Because section can be deleted from the investigation by clicking the red “X” to the right of Why.


The summary section at the bottom of each 5 Why’s is where you can add a summary of your findings. This is usually a formula of Issue Statement that happened as a result of Why #5.

For example:

Issue Statement: An employee is on their way to a client site and the company car stops in the middle of the road.

#5 Why were they not given a company gas card?
Because our gas cards have not been distributed to employees yet.

Summary: An employee ran out of gas going to a client’s site because the gas cards have not been distributed yet.


Corrective/Preventative Action

Before you submit your investigation, you must provide a suggested corrective/preventative action at the end of your investigation.

Saving a 5 Whys

Saving your 5 Whys investigation allows you to keep it editable and open so that you may leave and return later in order to make changes.

Submitting your 5 Whys

Clicking Submit will finalize the investigation, mark it as complete, close the associated task, create the suggested corrective/preventative action under the Corrective/Preventative Actions tile and lock the investigation so that it cannot be edited.


This tab will be used when investigations from multiple roles tabs have been completed and submitted.

Once investigation reports assigned to other employees have been completed, the Summary tab will automatically pull from the other investigation reports and summarize the findings on this page. Using the summaries from the other analysis pages, you can enter a summary of the findings by clicking on the text box under Summary Conclusions and typing a summary conclusion of the investigation, then click Save.

Printing the Investigation

To print a copy of the investigation with the 5 Whys Analysis, at the top right-hand of the report, click the icon of the printer. This will open the report in another window for you to print, using your computer’s printing functions.