Problem Statement

Change activity or initiatives are sometimes needed to improve a particular challenge or address an opportunity.

In order to clarify the challenge, it can help to follow the process defined in the ‘Problem Statement’ steps below.

The problem statement is a useful too to help articulate the challenge / opportunity with stakeholders and to gain buy-in and support from others.

Having the problem statement clearly articulated can help in ensuring the solution will be fit for purpose in addressing the challenge/ opportunity.


Steps to developing a good problem statement

  1. Write a “Problem Description” – a short paragraph describing as many details of the problem as possible.
  2. Work out the What Should Be Happening vs. What’s Actually Happening. This will begin to narrow your Problem Description into a single sentence or phrase.
  3. Further develop the problem by adding “When,” “Where” and “What”.
  4. Write the first draft of the problem statement. Make it as short and to the point as possible.
  5. Circle any words that are vague or can have different meanings to different people. E.g. “a lot” or “too expensive”.
  6. Circle any phrases dealing with amounts or time frames and ensure that these are measurable.
  7. Ensure that you remove words such as because, need to, should, must, as they refer to the cause or the solution of the problem.


Hints & Tips

Put the time and energy up front in identifying an accurate problem and writing a clear, concise, and measurable problem statement.

Write the problem statement with the audience in mind. It should be concise and include the following:

  • A brief description of the problem and the metric used to describe the problem.
  • Where the problem is occurring, consider which process and/or physical location.
  • The time frame over which the problem has been occurring.
  • The size or magnitude of the problem.