bigstock--165000134.jpgAs outlined in our previous blog article, “RCA Program Development: The Key Steps of Designing Your Program”, there are 11 key steps to a successful RCA program. Last month we introduced the first two steps – Defining Goals and Current Status. In this article we’ll break down steps 3 and 4 – Setting KPIs for your RCA program and establishing trigger thresholds to initiate an RCA.

  1. Key Performance Indicators

Key Performance Indicators, or KPIs, are the benchmarks used to measure the success of a program or effort. They can generally be divided into two categories: leading indicators and lagging indicators.  Both of these measure the degree to which progress is being made in achieving a specific goal.  Leading indicators tend to be objectives that progress you towards achieving the ultimate goal. They can be measured over a short period and act as mileposts to gauge how you’re tracking towards your goal. Lagging indicators are often the goals themselves.  If the relationship between the two is correctly defined, then achieving the short-term (leading) indicators virtually guarantees achieving the long-term goals.

To provide perspective in measuring progress using KPIs, a baseline must first be established.  Baselines for the selected KPIs should be at least 3 years of historical performance. Once these are established, then goals or targets for improvement should be set for a period of time, say 3 years, going forward. This process should be reviewed at least annually with baselines and targets adjusted accordingly.

  1. Formal RCA Threshold Criteria

An effective incident prevention program will have RCAs being performed at two levels: 1) On an informal or ad hoc basis for smaller, nuisance-level problems that may be specific to individuals or departments; and 2) on a formal level where challenges to the organization’s goals exist.

Leaders must communicate the organizational trigger criteria but they should also encourage and support teams and individuals to set their own trigger criteria as well.  When your employees can solve smaller day-to-day problems more effectively, your organization will realize the benefits of pro-active problem solving because many smaller problems will be rectified before they can manifest themselves into larger organization-level problem.

For RCA to be a core competency at all levels of the organization, and for people to be proactively preventing organizational problems, it is important to have clear guidance for formal RCAs. This is the function of the Trigger Criteria diagram. High-level challenges should be formally identified and assigned a threshold that when exceeded will automatically trigger a formal RCA.  Triggers should generally be leading indicators of some form or another and derived from specific organizational goals, or KPIs.  They are the trip wires to engage the RCA process for finding solutions to problems that are inhibiting organization goal achievement.

Organizations at higher levels of maturity will most often have triggers for multiple categories including safety, environmental compliance, revenue loss, unbudgeted costs, production loss, and sometimes repeat incidents.

For a deeper dive into the topic of trigger thresholds and scaling your RCA investigation, check out our whitepaper “Matching the Scale of Your RCA Investigation to the Significance of the Incident

In this blog series, we’ve now covered:


  • Setting KPIs and Establishing Trigger Thresholds

But of course, there is more to setting up your RCA program for success. ARMS Reliability’s RCA experts can assist you with designing your complete RCA program or reinvigorating your current one. This of course includes assisting with determining the status of your current RCA effort, walking you through the process of establishing and aligning goals, helping you set KPIs for your program, and establishing trigger thresholds that make sense for your organization. Learn more about our recommended facilitated workshop that covers all 11 of the key steps, and contact us for more information.


2 Thoughts on “RCA Program Development: Setting KPIs and Establishing Trigger Thresholds

  1. Pingback: RCA Program Development - Recommended RCA Team StructureARMS Reliability Blog

  2. Pingback: RCA Program Development:Training Strategy | | ARMS Reliability BlogARMS Reliability Blog

Post Navigation