Knowing how to write a problem statement is very important when solving problems on its own. Professionals who can identify, analyze and solve problems get to practice their critical thinking skills, which will be a valuable asset to many companies.
This is why if you know how to write a problem statement, many companies would be willing to give you challenging projects to handle and opportunities to grow in your career as well.
Whether you want to acquire or simply improve your skills in writing a problem statement, this article can be your guide with easy step-by-step methods. You’ll find out the elements and get tips on how to write a problem statement. We also included problem statement examples that you can use as templates for your first try.
What is a problem statement?
A problem statement is a brief description of a situation or an issue that calls for action to improve the state of a business or organization. A problem statement identifies the shortcomings of a business or project. Plus, it proposes possible solutions that can drive the business to achieve its desired result.
Good decision-making and well-thought-out plans usually begin with an effective problem statement. A problem statement provides insights and enables people to come up with process improvement strategies to ensure that the organization achieves its objectives. These improvement strategies entail devoting some time to the planning phase so that you can analyze the problem and create a practical solution.
Apart from business cases, a problem statement can also be used in academic writing. A problem statement is part of a thesis statement, which captures the focus of an entire research paper. However, our main focus in this article will be the use of a problem statement in a business setting.
What are the 5 elements of a problem statement?
Here are the elements of a problem statement:
The Ideal Situation
This paints a picture of the vision or desired outcome of the business. It highlights how the business would operate if the problem were absent. Letting people know of the ideal situation gives more perspective as to why it’s imperative to resolve the problem.
The problem or reality
A problem statement must mention the source of difficulty by putting the problem into context. It should clearly show where the gaps are between the ideal situation and the current reality. This element pinpoints the causes of the setback and lays the foundation for a feasible ideal solution.
Your problem statement should follow a cause-effect pattern. So, once you identify the problem, you should detail its impact and consequences. Explain the exact loss it caused to the organization in terms of profit, cost, time, reputation, productivity, and other factors.
The potential solution(s)
This element identifies viable solutions to the problem. It may propose more than one solution to direct the project team on how to approach the problem. A problem statement without this element cannot fulfill its purpose because although it sets the premise for a change, it fails to give a sense of direction.
This element outlines the desired outcome of a project. In this section, you should reveal the intended result of your proposed solution. This will help your organization visualize what the future of the business would look like after the problem is resolved.
Now, know the elements surrounding how to write a problem statement, next, here is a guide to help you.
How to write a problem statement as a beginner to a pro
A problem statement doesn’t only reflect your problem-solving skills, it also enhances your communication skills, which are both great skills to add to your credentials. It’s a communication tool that involves a great deal of research and articulation to convey your thoughts properly. The tips below will give you a grasp of how to begin and end a strong problem statement.
How to begin a problem statement?
First, describe the ideal situation to give an adequate context. This will help the reader to understand the basis of your problem statement. Then, state the problem you intend to solve and highlight its impact on the organization. You must communicate the problem clearly and succinctly, and state the losses the organization has suffered due to the problem. This gives a deeper understanding of why and how urgently the problem needs to be addressed.
How to end a problem statement
Propose possible solutions and explain why and how they will be effective. Ask yourself, “Will the solution help the company achieve its business goals?”. Conclude by providing a concise summary of your main argument or the central idea being emphasized in your problem statement. It’s how your proposed set of ideas aims to solve underlying problems and help the company achieve its ultimate goal.
5 useful Tips – How to write a problem statement?
A problem statement aims to propose actionable solutions to an identified problem and help the company realize its goals.
Ascertain the context of the problem
The best approach to problem-solving is to tackle the problem at its roots. This is what we mean by identifying the context of the problem. This enables you to quantify and qualify the impact of the problem and identify what areas are directly affected. If it’s a business challenge, a variable to consider is whether or not it’s a regular problem, such as one that impacts everyday sales or profit.
It must be persuasive
A problem statement, like every workplace writing, should be persuasive to get approval from stakeholders and compelling to get the project team to take action. It must emphasize the problem and its impact in contrast with the company’s ideal vision. A persuasive problem statement uses facts, statistics, and rhetorics to compel the team to understand the situation and take action.
Address the five ‘Ws”
Remember that your problem statement needs to inform just as much as it persuades the team or individual reader. The five W’s (who, what, where, when, why, plus how) are questions that must be core to your proposal, so you must integrate them into your problem statement. They give the reader a preview of your proposal without being overwhelmed by additional details.
A problem statement should be written concisely, which is one of the principles of writing a proposal or any formal writing. Avoid adding irrelevant information, and simple and clear terms to ensure that your audience gets the message as intended. Your problem statement should be informative yet concise, dealing only with the bare essentials of the proposal.
How to write a problem statement FAQ
Is a problem statement the same as the research hypothesis?
No, a problem statement is not the same as a research hypothesis. While a problem statement identifies a problem and suggests effective solutions, a hypothesis is a predictive statement that raises a research question and proposes the expected outcome of the study.
Why is a problem statement important?
A problem statement provides a context for your research or business proposal. It identifies the gap between the current situation and the ideal or desired situation. A problem statement is an effective tool used to reveal a state of affairs that needs improvement. It highlights the problem that an organization faces and describes how it can be eliminated.
An ideal problem statement should not exceed a page. However, depending on the nature, scope, and complexity, a problem statement could be expressed in a few sentences, a couple of paragraphs, or even an entire page.
Where can I find the problem statement in a research paper?
It’s expressed clearly in the introduction of your research paper or thesis, as the problem statement guides the scope of the research. It is a comprehensive summary of the issues that your paper seeks to address, hence it precedes the main body of the research.