Excel Your KPIs with AI Copilot Start for free today

Root Cause Analysis: A Quick Start Guide

Dong Li
VP of Global Growth
Jul. 13, 2023

In the complex world of data analysis and performance evaluation, metrics are vital compasses that guide an organization's journey towards success. However, unexpected fluctuations in these metrics can signal a shift in the business environment, often requiring prompt investigation to understand the underlying causes. In this blog, we delve into the concept of Root Cause Analysis (RCA) - a systematic approach aimed at discerning these fundamental reasons behind metric fluctuations. This article will equip you with an understanding of RCA's significance, introduce you to practical RCA methods, highlight its benefits, and walk you through a step-by-step guide to effectively tackle metric-related challenges. Moreover, we'll illustrate these principles with a real-world example, showing you how RCA can be applied to enhance marketing performance. So, let's embark on this journey to navigate the fluctuating seas of metrics and steer your organization towards improved performance and outcomes.


What is Root Cause Analysis (RCA)?


Root Cause Analysis, or RCA, is a systematic approach that aims to identify the fundamental reasons causing metric fluctuations. It delves beyond surface-level observations, seeking to uncover the contributing factors that drive changes in metrics. By pinpointing the root causes, organizations can implement targeted solutions to stabilize and enhance their metrics, leading to improved performance and outcomes.


The Benefit of Root Cause Analysis (RCA)


Implementing Root Cause Analysis (RCA) for metric fluctuations offers significant benefits to organizations, particularly when it comes to managing North-Star Metrics and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). North-Star Metrics are the pivotal indicators that reflect an organization's long-term success and strategic goals. They serve as guiding stars, helping an organization navigate towards its desired destination. By conducting RCA for metric fluctuations, organizations can align these essential North-Star Metrics with their underlying root causes.Let's explore how RCA enhances these crucial aspects of enterprise performance evaluation and goal-setting:

  • North-Star Metrics Alignment

Understanding the reasons behind metric variations helps identify the critical drivers impacting North-Star Metrics. This alignment ensures that corrective actions are targeted at the root causes, enabling organizations to make strategic decisions and optimize their performance toward achieving their long-term objectives.

Root Cause Analysis Can Help Marketers Identify Causes of North-Star Metric Drops
  • Enhanced Performance and Accountability

In addition to aligning North-Star Metrics, RCA also enhances performance and accountability at both individual and organizational levels. By understanding the root causes of metric fluctuations, individuals and teams become more aware of their impact on performance outcomes. This awareness fosters accountability and ownership, driving efforts toward achieving desired metric targets. Furthermore, RCA helps identify process gaps or inefficiencies, enabling organizations to implement changes that lead to improved performance, increased efficiency, and enhanced overall productivity.


Root Cause Analysis (RCA) Methods


The "5 Whys" technique is a simple, yet powerful, method for understanding the root causes of a problem. It involves repeatedly asking "why" to dig deeper into the underlying factors contributing to the issue. By asking "why" at least five times, teams can peel back the layers and reveal the true root cause. This method helps uncover not only the immediate cause but also the systemic or process-related causes that may have triggered the issue.To practice the 5 Whys technique on metrics fluctuation, the first step is to perform a comprehensive data analysis to identify which dimensions affect mostly to the metrics. Usually, there are two ways to accomplish this:

  • Automated Root Cause Analysis

There are tools like Kyligence Zen which are designed for Root Cause Analysis of metric fluctuations. With these tools, you only need to provide your data and metrics definition to the platform, and then the tools will generate insights automatically for you.

  • Analyzing with Business Intelligence (BI) tool

This approach involves examining historical data, segmenting the data based on relevant variables, and visualizing the data using graphs or charts. By analyzing the trends, spikes, or dips in the metric, teams can gain insights into potential causes that contributed to the fluctuations. Usually, this approach will require you to learn and become a BI expert.


Accomplish Automated Root Cause Analysis in 3 Steps


Kyligence Zen is a metrics platform that includes management and analytics capabilities, designed to help you conduct Root Cause Analysis automatically in just three steps. Here's how you can conduct an RCA in just three steps using this platform:

  • Step 1: Define Accurate and Reliable Metrics

The first step towards trustworthy RCA results is to define your metrics without any business ambiguity. It's recommended to manage all your metrics on a unified platform, such as a metrics store or metrics platform. This approach serves as a single source of truth within your organization.

Managing All Metrics in the Metrics Store as a Single Source of Truth
  • Step 2: Set Targets for North-Star Metrics

North-Star metrics often experience fluctuations. Therefore, you need to establish a specific time range and identify relevant dimensions to pinpoint the fluctuation you wish to analyze.

Selecting the Time Range and Analysis Dimensions for Root Cause Analysis

  • Analyze the Results

The final step involves diving deep into the results to identify which dimension contributed the most to the fluctuations. By doing so, you can gain insights into potential causes and understand their effects on your metrics.

Automated Root Cause Analysis helps user identify which dimension contributed the most to the fluctuations

Having identified the root causes, and developing and implementing targeted solutions to address them, you can collaborate with relevant teams or departments to devise strategies that stabilize the metric and promote consistent performance.


A Root Cause Analysis (RCA) Example


Let's explore a specific example to illustrate how Root Cause Analysis (RCA) can be applied to a common marketing metric: the conversion rate from Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL) to Sales Qualified Leads (SQL). Conducting an RCA for this metric can provide valuable insights into improving marketing performance and driving better alignment between marketing and sales efforts.

Figure. 5 The Example of RCA for the MQL/SQL Conversion Metrics


As Figure. 5 shows, after we collected the data of MQL/SQL conversion rate metric and run the RCA with Kyligence Zen. It's easy to identify the contribution of each Lead Source to the fluctuation of the result. As websites contribute the most to the increase of the MQL/SQL conversion rate, EDM and events hold it back. So that the marketing operation team can take action immediately to continue adding investments to the website, and optimize the ROI of EDM and Event.


By applying RCA to the MQL to SQL conversion rate, organizations can uncover valuable insights and take targeted actions to improve marketing effectiveness and drive higher-quality leads for the sales team. In this example, as a result, the marketing operation team can take action immediately to continue adding investments to the website and optimize the ROI of EDM and Event. This example highlights the practical application of RCA in the context of marketing metrics, demonstrating its ability to provide actionable recommendations for enhancing overall marketing and sales alignment and driving better conversion outcomes.




Root Cause Analysis serves as a powerful approach for effectively understanding and addressing metric fluctuations. By following the practical steps outlined in this guide, organizations can gain valuable insights into the underlying causes of metric variations and implement targeted solutions for long-term stability and improved performance. Remember, RCA is an ongoing process, and a data-driven approach will help uncover the true root causes behind metric fluctuations, leading to enhanced decision-making and organizational success.


Navigating metric fluctuations is easier than ever with Kyligence Zen. Our platform streamlines Root Cause Analysis, turning complexity into clarity in just three steps. Don't let your metrics be a mystery. Try Kyligence Zen today and unlock the insights within your data.


To find out more about Kyligence Zen and how it can benefit your organization, visit kyligence.io/zen or try it for free at zen.kyligence.io/en/user/register.

Start Free Trial