A problem statement is a description of an issue to be addressed or a condition to be improved upon. It identifies the gap between the current problem and goal. The first condition of solving a problem is understanding the problem, which can be done by way of a problem statement.[1]

Problem statements are used by most businesses and organizations to execute process improvement projects.[2]



The main purpose of the problem statement is to identify and explain the problem.[3][4]

Another function of the problem statement is as a communication device.[3] Before the project begins, stakeholders verify the problem and goals are accurately described in the problem statement. Once approved, the project reviews it. This also helps define project scope.[5]

The problem statement is referenced throughout the project to establish focus within the project team and verify they stay on track. At the end of the project, it is revisited to confirm the solution indeed solves the problem.

A problem statement can aid in performing root-cause analysis.[2]

The problem statement does not define the solution or methods of reaching the solution, and only recognizes the gap between the problem and goal.[4][6]



There are several basic elements that can be built into every problem statement. The problem statement should focus on the end user and the statement should not be too broad or too narrow.[7]

Problem statements usually follow a format. While there are several options, the following is a template often used in business analysis.

  1. Ideal: This section is used to describe the desired state of the process or product.
  2. Reality: This section is used to describe the current state of the process or product.
  3. Consequences: This section is used to describe the impacts on the business if the problem is not fixed or improved upon.
  4. Proposal: This section is used to describe potential solutions.[8]


  1. ^ Kush, Max (June 2015). "The Statement Problem". Quality Progress. 48 (6).
  2. ^ a b Annamalai, Nagappan; Kamaruddin, Shahrul; Azid, Ishak Abdul; Yeoh, TS (September 2013). "Importance of Problem Statement in Solving Industry Problems". Applied Mechanics and Materials. 421. Zurich: 857–863. doi:10.4028/www.scientific.net/AMM.421.857. S2CID 60791623.
  3. ^ a b Gygi, Craig; DeCarlo, Neil; Williams, Bruce (2015). Six sigma for dummies. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons. pp. 76–78.
  4. ^ a b Lindstrom, Chris (2011-04-24). "How To Write A Problem Statement". www.ceptara.com. Retrieved 2018-04-10.
  5. ^ Perry, Randy; Bacon, David (2010). Commercializing Great Products with Design for Six Sigma. Prentice Hall. p. 18.
  6. ^ Shaffer, Deb (2017-07-12). "How to Write a Problem Statement". ProProject Manager. Retrieved 2018-04-10.
  7. ^ Widen, Steven (2018-04-02). "Take These Steps To Define Your UI/UX Problem And Avoid Haphazard Changes". Forbes. Retrieved 2018-04-10.
  8. ^ Shaffer, David (2015-12-21). "Cooking Up Business Analysis Success". BA Times. Retrieved 2018-04-10.