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4 Examples of Problem Statements

 , September 01, 2021
A problem statement is documentation of a problem or opportunity for improvement. These are a starting point for change proposals such as action plans, business cases and project charters. Problems statements aren't requirements or solution designs. They simply state a problem without making assumptions about solutions. The following are illustrative examples.


Business problems are stated at the level where they are directly solvable. For example, a specific improvement that would make a product more competitive on the market. As a counterexample, general problems such as low employee moral, productivity issues or dropping revenue aren't directly actionable.


Documenting a usability issue from real users. Some designers document problem statements from fictional users because they lack engagement with customers. For internal apps, usability issues are always captured from end-users and business units.


Programs and projects often have broad problem statements that have little detail because they are a small part of a business case or similar document that may include background and financial analysis that builds an investment case for an initiative. Project problem statements are essentially executive summaries that are consumable and memorable. In other words, message framing is more important than detail.


An operations problem is a failure of execution such as a system outage. These are first recorded as incidents whereby a problem represents the root cause and incidents represent symptoms of the root cause.


A problem statement is a starting point for initiatives and fixes. This specifically excludes assumptions about solutions. The point of a problem statement is to force separation of problem and solution.

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