Writing a problem statement in simple terms evaluates a specific condition that can be improved or an issue that is expected to be addressed promptly.
A problem statement concisely explains the issue at hand by addressing the current state of the problem and the desired future state while pointing out the gaps identified between the two.
It is, therefore, a description of the undesirable gap between the current state and the desired one.
Importance of Problem Statement
Various scenarios may require the writing of a problem statement. In organizations such as businesses, a well-written problem statement is a vital anchor to improvement projects. A proper understanding of a project at hand in an organization is crucial to discovering and implementing the solutions. In academic research, a problem statement is a roadmap that contextualizes and helps the researcher understand the significance of their research problem. The ability to efficiently articulate a problem statement is an essential tool to communicate what a project is trying to solve.
A problem statement serves as a guiding light to projects by establishing focus by identifying the goals. Problem statements outline a path to a solution and ensure that the teams remain on track. It also offers teams a platform to look back on the problem at the end of the project. Teams can evaluate whether they accomplished fully solving the problem that was initially identified by an assessment of all the associated metrics goals.
A problem statement serves several purposes in any organization. It offers a guide to refer back to in the making of decisions and activities on a project. It also helps organizations gain support when in need of buy-in in the project or financial support; This is because it offers stakeholders a platform to verify that the problem against its goals is accurate and valuable enough for them to provide their support.
A well-written problem statement will center and focus a team at the start, help them remain on track during the solution effort, and finally validate that the effort was why the team delivered the solution that solved the outcome to the solution.
In academic research, a problem statement is the starting point that contextualizes a problem and establishes the significance of the whole investigation. Depending on the research problem’s scope, the problem statement may range from several paragraphs, a chapter, or as little as a few introductory sentences.
Problem Statement Requiring Situations
Practical research problems in an organization necessitate a problem statement. Once a problem is identified in an organization, a problem statement reviews the matter in detail and offers viability for any efforts to counter the problem.
The organization has had a constant breakdown in communication channels over the past year since employees began working remotely; this has affected most departments’ ability to deliver on their projects due to poor communication. Project managers have held several seminars with their teammates to straighten out the communication mishaps; however, the efforts have seen little to no input in bettering the circumstance.
Theoretical research problems in fields like science, history science, and geography form a background to developing a thesis. Problem statements, for instance, put debated issues into perspective.
Residents in region X reporting chest complications and cancers have increased steadily over the past seven years. In contrast to other regions in the country, according to surveys and tests conducted by Y, residents of zones neighboring major industrial companies report higher chest complication cases and cancers. There have been a few effective attempts by region X industries to reduce their toxic waste emission. However, the measures are yet to show any significant impact in reducing health hazards to the residents.
Writing a Problem Statement
One of the fundamentals of writing an excellent problem statement is making it as accurate and straightforward as possible. To report a reliable problem statement, have the following are essentials to have in mind to achieve the required level of clarity and conciseness;
Explain the situation
Describe the ideal process to contextualize the problem at hand. To achieve this, articulate how things would function if the issue at hand did not exist. Have the end-user in mind when undertaking this process. Answer what, when, where, who and why to help you remain on track and keep you from including self-based opinions instead of facts.
Assuming you have an idea on how to increase the efficiency of the communication in-house communication in an organization. You would begin by explaining how an effective communication system should run within an organization. For scientific research, let’s say you have a proposal to reduce industrial company waste to the environment. You could begin by describing an ideal theoretical situation where companies operate on a minimal waste release structure.
Mention the problem
Apart from stating the problem, a problem statement needs to include why the problem is a problem and why developing a solution is crucial. Consider this; what is the problem, why is it a problem, and why should we resolve it.
As you mention the problem, include who is affected and why they need a solution. Feel free to have any prior attempts to solve the issue at hand and why they failed to offer a solution.
Using our previous example on an ideal communication system, contrast the ideal situation with the problematic reality in your organization such as delays in receipt and passing of information, exposure to getting hacked, frequent miscommunication, some employees missing the messages, or ideas leaking to competitors.
Similarly, the scientific problem statement’s next step would be a statement of the problematic manner in which industrial companies release waste.
Describe the importance of solving problem
The problem will always exist in any given organization at different times of operation. That is why you should show the importance of solving the problem. What will it benefit from solving the problem, and what harm is caused by failing to solve it? If the problem worsens as time goes by, including staying warry of time when taking action to solve the problem.
The faulty communication system reduces the organization’s productivity by a constant failure to meet deadlines and causes multiple miscommunications. If the organization fails to attend to the matter, essential messages will continue to clutter through the numerous email strings and even get lost.
An environmentally friendlier means of releasing toxic waste would significantly preserve the lives and health conditions and the growing population of region X residents.
Mention financial costing
Stakeholders, such as the partners, rate analysts, or designers, will analyze your problem statement to determine the effort’s financial implications. Therefore, you want to refrain from talking about all the money they will require to pour into the project. Instead, explain how costly it would be if the problem does not get fixed.
Businesses are centered on cost-efficiency. The problem in question is likely adding extra costs to the business’s operations; it could even damage the public image or brand. Ensure you have included this in your problem statement by putting out the potential losses should the problem remain unaddressed. Get as specific as possible.
The failure to meet client deadlines has led to multiple clients pulling out their deals while others have shifted their allegiance and new deals to our competitors. The decrease in productivity of employees also costs the organization more to deliver on tasks.
Health complications for region X residents are costly to their families, reduce their quality of life and reduce the region’s productivity.
Back up claims
Since your problem statement generally claims that the problem is costing the organization money and any other loss, you must include evidence of the same. Speculate any backup question that may follow your claims and precisely but thoroughly place the answers to these questions in the problem statement. Conduct plenty of research and cite credible sources.
Smart and Savvy modern home builders, Artic designs ltd, and Metaorder Ltd, our long-term clients, have allocated all their new incoming project contract tenders to Prime enterprise, our top competitor. The shift was a result of our failure to meet deadlines and deliver projects as precisely as requested.
According to a report by Minilabs and the National health council Region X reports approximately 1000 cancer patients yearly. 600 more than the yearly average.
Explain the goals and aims of addressing the issue at hand gives your problem statement relevance. The goals and aims of a problem statement show whether the whole matter is worth putting effort into. The aims and objectives, however, do not need to change the world. The important thing is that you set achievable goals that are feasible, researchable, and ones that address a matter relevant to the field you are in.
A noteworthy point of direction to have in mind when writing the aims and objectives is that your goal should not be finding a definitive solution. This section should frame out how you intend to address the matter. The aims and goals should elucidate the reasons behind the issue then propose better approaches to understanding or tackling the subject.
I aim to investigate the root causes of the miscommunication, the barriers within our current forms of communication, and what flatform would be free of these problems.
This project investigates the impact of the current waste release measures by industries in and near region X. The project aims to explore a new approach that seeks to reduce the toxicity of materials released by industries.
Present a solution
A problem statement needs to include an initial proposed solution to the subject matter. However, the write-up shouldn’t focus on finding a single solution, and it should articulate the cause of the problem and how you’d imagine the solution practically. An easy way to present a solution is by stating the objectives of the solution.
I propose that members of the organization all adopt and sign up for slack which we should use for most in-house communication. Through slack, conversations are easily searched since they are organized through channels. Emails should be left for formal announcements.
I propose using XYZ chemical, which filters the F component in toxic substances and releases through the MNO model of emission.
Advantages of the solution
By the time you get to this segment, you have described what the issue should look like, pointed out the problem, and explained any cost concerns of not solving the said problem. Having proposed a solution, an efficient problem statement will follow up to demonstrate why the proposed solutions will work.
Focus on the solution’s financial impact and efficiency while tying the advantages back to how they will benefit the organization, employees, students, society, or the affected. In a single short paragraph, detail these benefits.
The use of slack will offer a timely delivery of information across departments; department heads can easily monitor the responses and have joint discussions without the cluttered email form of discussion. This will lead to increased productivity and prevent any potential loss of clients.
The F component has been the root cause of chest complications and cancers; current filtration systems fail to meet the threshold that would comprehensively beat this component. Component F dissolves in XYZ; the element’s liquid disposal will significantly minimize the component’s interaction with the air residents breathe, which was the primary route for cancer and chest complication development.
The final segment of a problem statement is a summary of what is already stated. The section summarizes the problem and the need to fix it. Include a summarized argument of why your proposed solution is the fix. The section ensures that readers accurately understand the situation you intend to solve. Have in mind the impact of the problem on the organization, society, or any group of people. Re-stating any academic support here will also strengthen your conclusion.
Communication is a primary factor in any effective working system. A more efficient system will increase productivity, improve creativity due to clear channels of communicating ideologies, and an overall image improvement with current and future clients.
Health complications and loss of lives through cancer are some of the most significant problems worldwide. Any effort at combating cancer-causing industrial waste would be a life-changing addition to the general improvement of life.
Problem Statement Example
As the current pandemic has led to company employees working from home, speedy communication is crucial for the success of the new remote working procedures. Many employees, however, have been dealing with poor connectivity issues. The inability to communicate in live sessions and trouble sending and receiving messages quickly conveniently has resulted in miscommunication. The constant miscommunication across the departments has negatively impacted the overall productivity. I suggest that the company provide all employees with better data packages and train them to use reliable online communication applications.
Free Downloads (Examples & Templates)
Here are the free customizable templates of the problem statement to help better understanding:
5 Questions to Guide Your Problem Statement
Suppose you are still encountering problems trying to contextualize the situation into a problem statement. In that case, the following are five questions to help you break down the matter before drafting your problem statement.
- Who does the said problem affect? Customers, employees, organizations, the environment, and are concerned a small group or an in large numbers?
- What is the problem? What is this issue, its impact, what happens when the problem is fixed, and what happens if it’s left unattended?
- When does the problem occur? Does the problem occur throughout specific times or under certain conditions? When should the team address the problem?
- Where does the problem occur? Is the problem specific to a particular location, or is location irrelevant to the matter?
- Why does the problem take place? Why does the problem occur, and why is it essential to fix it? Why is it vital for your team or organization to fix the problem?
Barriers in Writing an Effective Statement
Problem statements should be very objective; the significant challenge for writing an objective piece is the distraction from the following sources:
The associated symptoms of a problem confuse when trying to directly and specifically describe an issue. Jumping to the solutions too quickly may also hinder you from making an effective problem statement. To combat this confusion, especially when dealing with a problem that has meandered into causing multiple issues, do not end your research until you have confirmed and established the root cause. Once you establish this, ensure you have a profound understanding of the status quo.
Blame is a natural reflex when afflicted with a problem. However, refrain from subjectively placing blame on your causes you discover. State the reason for the problem in a detailed straightforward, and concise manner at the beginning of your problem statement.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
A problem statement should be short and elaborate; a page is enough to suffice a good problem statement.
A problem statement should include a status quo, which highlights the current state of things against how the ideal situation should be, highlighting the problem at hand and the importance of solving it. Additionally, it should include a solution to the problem and the goals and aims of the solution.
A problem statement is an area of concern requiring improvement. It’s a dive into a difficulty that needs elimination, and sometimes it’s a theoretically existing troubling question that necessitates deliberate investigation of a problem to create meaningful understanding. A well-written problem statement will keep the effort focused since it made a preview of a problem’s solvability.