Easily create cause and effect diagrams, decision trees, fishbone diagrams, Ishikawa diagrams, and root cause analysis diagrams with SmartDraw.

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Easily create cause and effect diagrams, decision trees, fishbone diagrams, Ishikawa diagrams, and root cause analysis diagrams with SmartDraw.

Free Download
CNET Editors' Rating:

Automated Cause & Effect Diagram Software

SmartDraw is absolutely the easiest way to make cause & effect diagrams and decision trees in just minutes. Use SmartDraw on any device with an internet connection to enjoy the full set of features, symbols, and high-quality output. Simply select a cause and effect template, input your information, and SmartDraw does the rest, aligning everything automatically and applying professional design themes for professional-quality results every time.

Add cause Automated cause and effect diagram

What is a cause and effect diagram?

Originally developed by Kaoru Ishikawa to visualize the causes of a specific problem, the cause and effect diagram has come to be known by several names: Cause and Effect, Fishbone, or Ishikawa diagram. A cause and effect diagram is one of the seven basic quality control tools and it is commonly used to determine components needed for a desired outcome.

One of the reasons cause & effect diagrams are also called fishbone diagrams is because the completed diagram ends up looking like a fish's skeleton with the fish head to the right of the diagram and the bones branching off behind it to the left.

To create a cause & effect diagram, you start by writing the main issue or problem in a box that is typically to the center right portion of your drawing area. This is your fish head in the fishbone diagram. A line called the "spine" or "backbone" will extend to the left of this box. The branches that angle off the spine each represent a cause that has some effect on the main issue. Each of these branches may also contain additional sub-branches.

A cause & effect or fishbone diagram is used to examine why something happened or might happen by breaking up the issue into smaller, more easily understandable categories.

Root Cause Analysis for Lean Methodology

A cause & effect diagram is used in Lean for conducting root cause analysis. It is a problem-solving tool that lets teams visually examine what factors, or causes, contribute to a known result, or effect.

In the past, root cause analysis diagrams were often drawn by hand, because most diagramming programs require too much time and manual effort. SmartDraw's automated cause & effect diagrams are so fast and easy to use, this is no longer the case.

Root cause diagram

Automated cause & effect diagrams in SmartDraw are easy--just open a blank template like this one.

Cause and effect diagram template

Highlight the labels and type to add text. Add more cause or detail symbols with a click. SmartDraw automatically builds branches and realigns your diagram for you, keeping everything looking neat. Delete or move a cause, and SmartDraw reformats your diagram automatically so that everything is aligned perfectly.

Delete cause Automatic cause and effect formatting

Add pictures, notes, documents, and hyperlinks in your diagram. Share your diagram with others using Dropbox®, Google Drive, OneDrive®, or SharePoint®. Export it to Microsoft Word®, Excel®, PDF, or PowerPoint® with a single click.

Top reasons SmartDraw is ideal for creating cause and effect diagrams:

  • Automatic Cause & Effect Formatting
    Click simple commands and SmartDraw builds your cause and effect diagram for you, automatically. Add or remove a cause and SmartDraw realigns and arranges all the elements so that your diagram continues to look great.
  • Share Your Cause & Effect Diagram Any Way You Choose
    Share your cause & effect diagram in a variety of common graphics formats such as PDF, SVG, or export it to any Office® application in one click. SmartDraw works with popular services such as Dropbox®, Google Drive, and OneDrive®.
  • Works on Any Device
    Use SmartDraw on your computer, browser or mobile device—Windows®, Mac®, Android®, iOS®, or any other platform with an internet connection. Whether you're in the office or on the go, you'll enjoy the full set of features, symbols, and high-quality output you get only with SmartDraw.
  • Quick-Start Fishbone Templates
    Dozens of professionally-designed cause and effect diagram examples will help you get started immediately. Simply choose the fishbone template that is most similar to your project, and customize it to suit your needs.
  • Free Support
    Got a question? Call or email us. SmartDraw experts are standing by ready to help, for free!
Discover why SmartDraw is the easiest and best cause and effect diagram software.
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