Fishbone diagrams (see article on fishbone diagrams here) are commonly used in fault finding / route cause analysis. They offer a great way of articulating factors that contribute to a given situation or problem.

Cause and effect diagrams are typically drawn with a spine that represents the problem or issue – lines and boxes that represent route causes with further lines emanating from the route causes for sub causes. When complete it resembles a fish skeleton (hence the name fishbone diagram).

While Microsoft Visio is an excellent tool for producing cause and effect diagrams – you don’t have to use it – indeed you can produce a competent fishbone diagram from within any of the MS Office applications by using the drawing toolbar (see here for our example on creating a fishbone cause and effect diagram in Excel) – however Visio, to make life easy – features out of the box support for fishbone diagrams and comes readily equipped with a suitable template and various icons/shapes which makes producing the diagram nice and easy. In our example below we used Visio 2003 in other versions you may find the menu options slightly different although the premise remains the same.

1/ Start Visio
2/ From the file menu select New – Business Process – Cause and Effect Diagram
3/ Visio will load the generic cause and effect template (this shows 1 issue and 4 route causes)
4/ Add appropriate titles, name your issue and route causes.
5/ Drag and drop the appropriate Visio shapes into the template to complete your fishbone diagram – note this might mean further route causes or further sub clauses.

Check out the video!

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2 Responses to “Creating a fishbone diagram or cause and effect diagram in Visio”

  1. MS Visio on September 9th, 2010 10:25 am

    Creating such fishbone diagrams is pretty simple. Using visio diagram makes it much simpler since it has template and various icons/shapes for this purpose. Thanks for sharing this example on creating a fishbone cause and effect diagram.

  2. Pikesway on September 14th, 2010 4:26 pm

    There is a template on my blog that will allow you to just fill in a few blanks and it will create a fishbone diagram for your.

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