Using Tally Sheet for Root Cause Analysis

TALLY SHEET/CHECK SHEET - Includes Free Template

One of the responsibilities of a business analyst is seeking solutions to business problems and improving existing processes. In order to achieve improvement in daily operations, trends need to be monitored. This is where the tally sheet comes in – it’s used for recording the frequency of events/problems as they occur.

The data collected on a tally sheet can reveal the root cause of business problems when subjected to further analysis.

When to Use it?

  • When processes/events need to be monitored and recorded as they occur. The BA may want to observe events and note them down immediately. This can easily be applied when using the passive or active observation technique for requirements elicitation.
  • When collecting data on the frequency of certain events/problems in order to make critical business decisions
  • When collecting quantitative data for statistical analysis; data is recorded by making marks on the tally sheet anytime the problem/event occurs.

Practical Application

  • Identify and describe the event(s) that needs to be observed - ensure that every member of the team making use of the tally sheet understands the meaning of each event
  • Determine how much data will be needed to make intelligent decisions; this will in turn determine the duration for which the tally sheet will be used
  • Design the tally sheet so that data can be captured easily; an “other events” category should be included as this will be useful where events not initially planned for are observed. The tally sheet should contain the 5Ws - Who, what, why, when and where.
  • Test the tally sheet and improve it based on observations
  • Begin observation - each time the event being studied occurs, insert a tally in the appropriate category
  • Identify events with unusually high or low occurrences and shortlist them for further analysis, if necessary

Here’s a practical example of how a tally sheet can be used:

The HR Department has noticed a recent spike in the number of complaints from staff members. In order to understand the biggest pain, the analyst decides to use a tally sheet to take note of the frequency of each type of complaint reported.

Every time a complaint is made, a mark is inserted on the tally sheet. The resulting document would look like this:

Tally Sheet: Click to enlarge

The tally sheet may also be shown in this form:

Tally Sheet: Click to enlarge

From the above sheet, it's obvious that most complaints are around "Leave history not updated". In order to increase user satisfaction, the BA would pay more attention to this complaint.

Download the tally sheet template in Excel.

Useful Links

Check Sheet Explanation
ASQ’s Tally Sheet Template – A histogram, bar chart and pareto chart are automatically generated
heck Sheets: 5 Basic Types