What is 5W1H?



5W2H is acronym for the set of seven question What, Where, When, Which, Who, How and How-much. This technique was developed in Automobile industry as 5W1H to gather and report information in full. It is intensively used across industries to report non-conformances, quality incidents, safety incidents, accidents etc.

Off late we have added the 2nd ‘H’ How-much to quantify the risk associated with the condition being reported. In LSS, it is used to define a problem condition with full information in define phase and as Operational Definition in measure phase.

QuestionExpected InformationImportance
What?What is the problem?What happened? What has gone wrong against (what) expectations?
Where?Where was the problem Observed? (Location)Location of problem observation including process stage. This will also be useful for effective investigation.
When?Date / Shift / Time of observation of problem  Date, shift and exact time of observation of problem. Time of incident will provide clues of delays in process. Delay could also be a cause of problem. We will lose this perspective if we fail to record exact time
Which?In Which line / which product / which batch or lot number / which brand / which Record?Exact point where the problem happened. Useful during analysis. Helps to isolate the problem.
Who?Who has observed the problem? Name and designation.Significance of him / her observing problem (somebody else should have observed?) He / She becomes documented witness for the incident. This will be useful to get first-hand information on problem, in future.
How?How the problem was experienced / observedProvides more critical information on problem on how the person found the problem. For example, during Performance monitoring / during regular check-up / sudden noise / abnormal smell etc.
How many?How many batches rejected? How much material lost? How much time wasted? How much money / how many machines downThis captures the impact of the problem. This will help in determining urgency of remedial actions and to take decision on future course of action
5W1H & 5W2H