Published 29 Jul 2022
What is a 5W1H Template?
A 5W1H template is a standardized checklist for problem solving and questioning based on the 5W1H method, which is focused on answering the fundamental questions of a problem: What, Who, Where, When, Why, and How. The goal of implementing or using the 5W1H method is to gain a better understanding of a certain situation and to continuously improve upon existing solutions.
This template can be used by project managers, team leaders, product developers, and quality managers to improve their processes and products by identifying the cause of problems and coming together with their team to create solutions for them. Use this 5W1H template to:
- Go through each element of the 5W1H method systematically
- Attach photos and videos of spotted problems when conducting inspections
- Improve problem-solving skills
This article briefly discusses:
- where the 5W1H method is commonly used;
- the elements of a 5W1H template; and
- how iAuditor can be used for implementing it.
The 5W1H method is used in many industries to question or expound on existing or new problems that might arise in providing a product or service. The most well-known use for it is in news or content writing wherein to develop a story, it is necessary to question all the details of it. However, it is also widely used in ensuring quality in many businesses’ processes.
Today, as part of the 5S Lean, Kipling Method, and other process improvement methods, the 5W1H method is meant to aid quality managers, leaders, project managers, and product development staff with the following:
- Identifying and analyzing problems deeply by discussing who is involved in it, what the problem is about, where and when is it happening, why, and how
- Exploring solutions based on the different aspects of a problem
- Managing known facts to create solutions
Often, the 5W1H method is carried out as if it were a checklist. This means that the 5W1H method can be used to ensure a problem is solved in every possible way, or that a project follows all quality standards and will be delivered efficiently and effectively by preventing any problems from arising.
While the 5W1H method already functions much like a checklist, it is still better to have dedicated checklists for it. Managers use 5W1H checklists to help set the flow of a discussion on project or process improvement and it gives them an idea of what to talk about and organize their ideas. Having a set 5W1H template will be a bigger help as well.
Anyone can make a 5W1H checklist from scratch, but if you work in a fast-paced environment or handle many products and services, having a 5W1H template checklist that is readily available would be better in the long run. A template can help with organizing questions and answers, making it easier to spot errors or opportunities for improvement. Additionally, using a template makes it easier to sort documents and create plans based on specific criteria that will be standardized.
A typical 5H1W Template will have a dedicated field per W as follows:
The first part of any problem-solving analysis and 5W1H template is defining the problem. Identify what is the problem at hand that is either happening in the moment or can happen soon depending on certain circumstances.
After identifying the problem, your 5W1H template should prompt you to list down the relevant people involved in the “what” problem. This can pertain to those directly causing the problem, or those that may be affected by it directly and indirectly. This field can also be used to list down who can solve the problem at hand.
The “where” portion of a 5W1H template should detail the location of the problem or where it is expected to take place.
All details about the timeline of a problem that is occurring or is expected to happen should be listed under the “when” field. If a problem is ongoing, this should also contain the duration of the issue.
The “why” field is an essential part of a 5W1H template. Now that you have identified the problem and its details, you should now analyze its main cause or causes.
The “how” field in a 5W1H template also seeks to explain the details of a problem, particularly in discovering ways to solve it. Sometimes, the “how” field asks for detailed enumerated steps on how to solve a problem, but other times a descriptive paragraph will do. This field should also include the items and processes necessary to solve the problem at hand.
Consider using iAuditor by SafetyCulture to get started on your 5W1H Template. iAuditor is a digital tool you can use to analyze, manage, and understand how 5W1H can be applied to your products or services through its wide array of customizable 5W1H templates. Using iAuditor, you can work closely together with your team to identify and address problems and questions along every step of analyzing your product or service, store your findings in the cloud, and view your data with the help of analytics.
In addition to 5W1H templates, iAuditor also offers templates in its Public Library for other process improvement frameworks such as Lean, Zero Defects, and Kaizen. These templates will work well in conjunction with your chosen 5W1H template as supplementary documents and tasks in order to help you with improving your current products and processes.
iAuditor also allows you to:
- Convert existing 5W1H templates in PowerPoint, Excel, PDF, and Word formats into a digital checklist inside iAuditor
- Schedule inspections to analyze and understand problems using the 5W1H method
- Report problems by raising Issues or by providing a Heads Up to your entire team in one go
- Correct any issue spotted immediately by assigning them priority levels and specific staff members to take Actions on them
- Ensure the authenticity of an inspection by requiring inspectors or managers to affix their signatures
- Export accomplished 5W1H templates and inspection forms into web links, PDF, and Word files
A concept closely related to 5W1H is that of 5 Whys. Use this template to dig deeper into why a problem exists and collaborate with teammates to help address it.
Use this root-cause analysis template to identify the root causes of different problems and eliminate them as needed. This template can be used with the 5W1H template for a more comprehensive problem-solving analysis.