5W2H is a tool that provides guiding questions when assessing a process or problem. The five W's-who, what, when, where, and why, and the two H's-how and how much - force you to consider various facets of the situation being analyzed.
When planning a project or steps of a project (such as data collection or rolling out changes).
When seeking improvement opportunities for a process.
When there is a suspected problem or an identified problem requiring a better definition.
1. REVIEW THE SITUATION to be analyzed. Ensure everyone understands the subject of the 5W2H.
2. DEVELOP APPROPRIATE QUESTIONS ABOUT THE SITUATION for each question word (who, what, when, where, why, how, how much). (Note: the order in which the questions are asked is irrelevant.)
3. ANSWER EACH QUESTION and develop a plan for answering questions that do not immediately have a known answer.
4. Next, depending on the situation:
If you are planning a project, let the questions and answers help to form your plan.
If you are analyzing a process for improvement opportunities, develop additional questions about potential changes from your initial questions and answers.
If you are defining a problem, allow the questions and answers to lead you into cause analysis.
If you are reviewing a completed project, develop additional questions about modifying, expanding, or standardizing changes from your initial questions and answers.
If you are preparing an article, report, or presentation, include answers to the questions in your text.
Takes into account all aspects of a situation, process, or problem.
Requires little or no training.
Can be applied to any situation, process, or problem.
Not useful if answers to most of the questions are unknown.
Tague N. The tools. In: O'Mara P, editor. The quality toolbox. 2nd ed. Milwaukee, WI: ASQ Quality Press; 2005. p. 93-521.