Make better decisions in your business using our comprehensive guide on problem statements. Discover how to create one, their uses, and helpful examples.
Navigating the path to success often means confronting challenges head-on. But how can you tackle a challenge if you can't clearly define it?
Enter the problem statement — a tool that sharpens your focus on the hurdles you face.
In this guide, we'll demystify the art of crafting precise problem statements and illuminate their power in guiding decision-making. You'll also learn how to define a problem statement and enjoy real-world examples to spark your thinking.
What’s a problem statement? 🤔
A problem statement summarizes a challenge or issue you want to solve. The goal is to help you, stakeholders, and other team members focus on the problem, its significance, and its impact.
You can create problem statements for various situations, like when trying to solve a customer issue or personal roadblock.
More generally, you might create a problem statement to:
- Draw someone’s focus to an issue
- Identify a gap or improvement opportunity
- Brainstorm solutions with others
- Craft action plans for solving the problem
- Choose information for a case study, project proposal, or white paper
The five Ws of a problem statement 📝
Problem statements typically answer the five Ws: who, what, where, when, and why. You might situate these questions as follows:
- Who are the people the issue affects?
- What’s causing the problem?
- When does it occur/did it initially occur?
- Where does it happen?
- Why is it happening, i.e., what’s the root cause?
To answer these questions, you’d gather documented information about the issue and communicate with every stakeholder involved. These insights and research help your team find viable solutions to the problem.
How to write problem statements: 4 steps 🪜
Ready to find a solution to your issue? Here’s a simple four-step guide to crafting effective problem statements.
1. Gather insights from previous projects 🧐
Dive deep into previous problem documentation and client feedback to determine whether you’ve solved this issue before. If so, determine whether that solution was effective or not.
Remember to also consider insights from fellow freelancers and even trends in the gig economy. The more information you have about the issue, the better you can tackle it.
2. Craft a clear statement ✏️
By developing a concise description of your challenge, you'll ensure clarity and avoid misinterpretation. And following the structured “Ws” approach helps you clearly and thoroughly share your issue with others, like peers who might be able to help or clients involved.
3. Brainstorm solutions 💭
Once you've defined the challenge, brainstorm potential solutions. Collaborate with fellow freelancers and teammates, tap into online forums, or even attend workshops. Exploring various avenues helps generate diverse, innovative solutions for your problem statement.
4. Embrace an iterative mindset 🌀
As you navigate your freelance journey, be open to revising and refining your chosen solutions. By consistently evaluating your approach, you'll stay agile, ensuring that your strategies evolve in line with project and issue needs.
2 problem statement examples 🌟
To better understand the concept, here are two problem statement examples. Use these as templates when crafting your own.
ABC’s low product quality 🥀
Problem description: ABC Manufacturing is experiencing a high rate of product defects, leading to increased customer complaints, returns, and a decline in overall product quality perception. This issue persists across all product lines, impacting the company’s reputation and market competitiveness.
Background: ABC has faced a growing challenge in maintaining product quality standards. Historically, the company was known for producing reliable, high-quality products. But in recent years, an increasing number of defects have been identified across various product lines.
Relevance: Addressing the high rate of product defects is paramount for ABC. The ongoing issues not only lead to customer dissatisfaction and potential market share loss but also result in significant financial implications due to warranty claims, returns processing, and rework costs. Over time, this affects customer trust.
Objectives: The primary objective is to reduce the rate of product defects at ABC. Related objectives include:
- Carrying out a comprehensive analysis of the production processes to identify root causes
- Evaluating the effectiveness of current quality control measures
- Evaluating employee training and development programs
- Monitoring and assessing improvement strategies through KPIs
XYZ’s low employee engagement 😶🌫️
Problem description: XYZ Corporation is grappling with a significant decrease in employee engagement across all departments, leading to reduced productivity, higher turnover rates, and a negative impact on the overall company culture.
Background: XYZ previously maintained high employee engagement levels. But in recent years, it has observed a steady decline, with lower levels of job satisfaction and reduced commitment among employees company-wide.
Relevance: The decline in engagement leads to lower productivity, decreased innovation, increased recruitment costs, and high turnover rates.
Objectives: The primary objective is to enhance employee engagement at XYZ. Related objectives include:
- Conducting a comprehensive employee survey and analysis to identify the root causes of decreased engagement
- Developing and implementing targeted strategies to address the identified issues
- Enhancing recognition and reward programs
- Monitoring engagement changes through KPIs
Join a community of fellow problem-solvers 🔍
Struggling to find solutions to the challenges penned in your problem statement? Join Contra, an Independent-forward community brimming with insights. Engage with seasoned freelancers who've navigated similar roadblocks, leveraging their expertise to clarify the path forward.
And if you need specific skills to tackle your problems head-on, we'll match you with the perfect professional. At Contra, your problem statement becomes a roadmap to results.