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  • How to Write a Problem Statement | Guide & Examples

How to Write a Problem Statement | Guide & Examples

Published on November 6, 2022 by Shona McCombes and Tegan George. Revised on November 20, 2023.

A problem statement is a concise and concrete summary of the research problem you seek to address. It should:

  • Contextualize the problem. What do we already know?
  • Describe the exact issue your research will address. What do we still need to know?
  • Show the relevance of the problem. Why do we need to know more about this?
  • Set the objectives of the research. What will you do to find out more?

Table of contents

When should you write a problem statement, step 1: contextualize the problem, step 2: show why it matters, step 3: set your aims and objectives.

Problem statement example

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Frequently asked questions about problem statements.

There are various situations in which you might have to write a problem statement.

In the business world, writing a problem statement is often the first step in kicking off an improvement project. In this case, the problem statement is usually a stand-alone document.

In academic research, writing a problem statement can help you contextualize and understand the significance of your research problem. It is often several paragraphs long, and serves as the basis for your research proposal . Alternatively, it can be condensed into just a few sentences in your introduction .

A problem statement looks different depending on whether you’re dealing with a practical, real-world problem or a theoretical issue. Regardless, all problem statements follow a similar process.

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The problem statement should frame your research problem, giving some background on what is already known.

Practical research problems

For practical research, focus on the concrete details of the situation:

  • Where and when does the problem arise?
  • Who does the problem affect?
  • What attempts have been made to solve the problem?

Theoretical research problems

For theoretical research, think about the scientific, social, geographical and/or historical background:

  • What is already known about the problem?
  • Is the problem limited to a certain time period or geographical area?
  • How has the problem been defined and debated in the scholarly literature?

The problem statement should also address the relevance of the research. Why is it important that the problem is addressed?

Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean you have to do something groundbreaking or world-changing. It’s more important that the problem is researchable, feasible, and clearly addresses a relevant issue in your field.

Practical research is directly relevant to a specific problem that affects an organization, institution, social group, or society more broadly. To make it clear why your research problem matters, you can ask yourself:

  • What will happen if the problem is not solved?
  • Who will feel the consequences?
  • Does the problem have wider relevance? Are similar issues found in other contexts?

Sometimes theoretical issues have clear practical consequences, but sometimes their relevance is less immediately obvious. To identify why the problem matters, ask:

  • How will resolving the problem advance understanding of the topic?
  • What benefits will it have for future research?
  • Does the problem have direct or indirect consequences for society?

Finally, the problem statement should frame how you intend to address the problem. Your goal here should not be to find a conclusive solution, but rather to propose more effective approaches to tackling or understanding it.

The research aim is the overall purpose of your research. It is generally written in the infinitive form:

  • The aim of this study is to determine …
  • This project aims to explore …
  • This research aims to investigate …

The research objectives are the concrete steps you will take to achieve the aim:

  • Qualitative methods will be used to identify …
  • This work will use surveys to collect …
  • Using statistical analysis, the research will measure …

The aims and objectives should lead directly to your research questions.

Learn how to formulate research questions

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You can use these steps to write your own problem statement, like the example below.

Step 1: Contextualize the problem A family-owned shoe manufacturer has been in business in New England for several generations, employing thousands of local workers in a variety of roles, from assembly to supply-chain to customer service and retail. Employee tenure in the past always had an upward trend, with the average employee staying at the company for 10+ years. However, in the past decade, the trend has reversed, with some employees lasting only a few months, and others leaving abruptly after many years.

Step 2: Show why it matters As the perceived loyalty of their employees has long been a source of pride for the company, they employed an outside consultant firm to see why there was so much turnover. The firm focused on the new hires, concluding that a rival shoe company located in the next town offered higher hourly wages and better “perks”, such as pizza parties. They claimed this was what was leading employees to switch. However, to gain a fuller understanding of why the turnover persists even after the consultant study, in-depth qualitative research focused on long-term employees is also needed. Focusing on why established workers leave can help develop a more telling reason why turnover is so high, rather than just due to salaries. It can also potentially identify points of change or conflict in the company’s culture that may cause workers to leave.

Step 3: Set your aims and objectives This project aims to better understand why established workers choose to leave the company. Qualitative methods such as surveys and interviews will be conducted comparing the views of those who have worked 10+ years at the company and chose to stay, compared with those who chose to leave.

If you want to know more about the research process , methodology , research bias , or statistics , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

Methodology

  • Sampling methods
  • Simple random sampling
  • Stratified sampling
  • Cluster sampling
  • Likert scales
  • Reproducibility

 Statistics

  • Null hypothesis
  • Statistical power
  • Probability distribution
  • Effect size
  • Poisson distribution

Research bias

  • Optimism bias
  • Cognitive bias
  • Implicit bias
  • Hawthorne effect
  • Anchoring bias
  • Explicit bias

Once you’ve decided on your research objectives , you need to explain them in your paper, at the end of your problem statement .

Keep your research objectives clear and concise, and use appropriate verbs to accurately convey the work that you will carry out for each one.

I will compare …

All research questions should be:

  • Focused on a single problem or issue
  • Researchable using primary and/or secondary sources
  • Feasible to answer within the timeframe and practical constraints
  • Specific enough to answer thoroughly
  • Complex enough to develop the answer over the space of a paper or thesis
  • Relevant to your field of study and/or society more broadly

Writing Strong Research Questions

Research objectives describe what you intend your research project to accomplish.

They summarize the approach and purpose of the project and help to focus your research.

Your objectives should appear in the introduction of your research paper , at the end of your problem statement .

Your research objectives indicate how you’ll try to address your research problem and should be specific:

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Effective problem statements have these 5 components

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We’ve all encountered problems on the job. After all, that’s what a lot of work is about. Solving meaningful problems to help improve something. 

Developing a problem statement that provides a brief description of an issue you want to solve is an important early step in problem-solving .

It sounds deceptively simple. But creating an effective problem statement isn’t that easy, even for a genius like Albert Einstein. Given one hour to work on a problem, he’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes finding solutions. (Or so the story goes.)

Einstein was probably exaggerating to make a point. But considering his success in solving complex problems, we think he was on to something. 

As humans, we’re wired to jump past the problem and go directly to the solution stage. In emergencies, this behavior can be lifesaving, as in leaping out of the way of a speeding car. But when dealing with longer-range issues in the workplace, this can lead to bad decisions or half-baked solutions. 

That’s where problem statements come in handy. They help to meaningfully outline objectives to reach effective solutions. Knowing how to develop a great problem statement is also a valuable tool for honing your management skills .

But what exactly is a problem statement, when should you use one, and how do you go about writing one? In this article, we'll answer those questions and give you some tips for writing effective problem statements. Then you'll be ready to take on more challenges large and small.

What is a problem statement?

First, let’s start by defining a problem statement. 

A problem statement is a short, clear explanation of an issue or challenge that sums up what you want to change. It helps you, team members, and other stakeholders to focus on the problem, why it’s important, and who it impacts. 

A good problem statement should create awareness and stimulate creative thinking . It should not identify a solution or create a bias toward a specific strategy.

Taking time to work on a problem statement is a great way to short-circuit the tendency to rush to solutions. It helps to make sure you’re focusing on the right problem and have a well-informed understanding of the root causes. The process can also help you take a more proactive than reactive approach to problem-solving . This can help position you and your team to avoid getting stuck in constant fire-fighting mode. That way, you can take advantage of more growth opportunities.  

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When to use a problem statement

The best time to create a problem statement is before you start thinking of solutions. If you catch yourself or your team rushing to the solution stage when you’re first discussing a problem, hit the brakes. Go back and work on the statement of the problem to make sure everyone understands and agrees on what the real problem is. 

Here are some common situations where writing problem statements might come in handy: 

  • Writing an executive summary for a project proposal or research project
  • Collaborating   on a cross-functional project with several team members
  • Defining the customer issue that a proposed product or service aims to solve
  • Using design thinking to improve user experience
  • Tackling a problem that previous actions failed to solve 

problem-statement-colleagues-solving-at-laptop

How to identify a problem statement

Like the unseen body of an iceberg, the root cause of a specific problem isn’t always obvious. So when developing a problem statement, how do you go about identifying the true, underlying problem?

These two steps will help you uncover the root cause of a problem :

  • Collect information from the research and previous experience with the problem
  • Talk to multiple stakeholders who are impacted by the problem

People often perceive problems differently. Interviewing stakeholders will help you understand the problem from diverse points of view. It can also help you develop some case studies to illustrate the problem. 

Combining these insights with research data will help you identify root causes more accurately. In turn, this methodology will help you craft a problem statement that will lead to more viable solutions. 

What are problem statements used for?

You can use problem statements for a variety of purposes. For an organization, it might be solving customer and employee issues. For the government, it could be improving public health. For individuals, it can mean enhancing their own personal well-being . Generally, problem statements can be used to:

  • Identify opportunities for improvement
  • Focus on the right problems or issues to launch more successful initiatives – a common challenge in leadership
  • Help you communicate a problem to others who need to be involved in finding a solution
  • Serve as the basis for developing an action plan or goals that need to be accomplished to help solve the problem
  • Stimulate thinking outside the box  and other types of creative brainstorming techniques

3 examples of problem statements

When you want to be sure you understand a concept or tool, it helps to see an example. There can also be some differences in opinion about what a problem statement should look like. For instance, some frameworks include a proposed solution as part of the problem statement. But if the goal is to stimulate fresh ideas, it’s better not to suggest a solution within the problem statement. 

In our experience, an effective problem statement is brief, preferably one sentence. It’s also specific and descriptive without being prescriptive. 

Here are three problem statement examples. While these examples represent three types of problems or goals, keep in mind that there can be many other types of problem statements.        

Example Problem Statement 1: The Status Quo Problem Statement

Example: 

The average customer service on-hold time for Example company exceeds five minutes during both its busy and slow seasons.

This can be used to describe a current pain point within an organization that may need to be addressed. Note that the statement specifies that the issue occurs during the company’s slow time as well as the busy season. This is helpful in performing the root cause analysis and determining how this problem can be solved. 

The average customer service on-hold time for Example company exceeds five minutes during both its busy and slow seasons. The company is currently understaffed and customer service representatives are overwhelmed.

Background:

Example company is facing a significant challenge in managing their customer service on-hold times. In the past, the company had been known for its efficient and timely customer service, but due to a combination of factors, including understaffing and increased customer demand, the on-hold times have exceeded five minutes consistently. This has resulted in frustration and dissatisfaction among customers, negatively impacting the company's reputation and customer loyalty.

Reducing the on-hold times for customer service callers is crucial for Example company. Prolonged waiting times have a detrimental effect on customer satisfaction and loyalty, leading to potential customer churn and loss of revenue. Additionally, the company's declining reputation in terms of customer service can have a lasting impact on its competitive position in the market. Addressing this problem is of utmost importance to improve customer experience and maintain a positive brand image.

Objectives:

The primary objective of this project is to reduce the on-hold times for customer service callers at Example company. The specific objectives include:

  • Analyzing the current customer service workflow and identifying bottlenecks contributing to increased on-hold times.
  • Assessing the staffing levels and resource allocation to determine the extent of understaffing and its impact on customer service.
  • Developing strategies and implementing measures to optimize the customer service workflow and reduce on-hold times.
  • Monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of the implemented measures through key performance indicators (KPIs) such as average on-hold time, customer satisfaction ratings, and customer feedback.
  • Establishing a sustainable approach to maintain reduced on-hold times, taking into account both busy and slow seasons, through proper resource planning, training, and process improvements.

Example Problem Statement 2: The Destination Problem Statement

Leaders at Example company want to increase net revenue for its premium product line of widgets by 5% for the next fiscal year. 

This approach can be used to describe where an organization wants to be in the future. This type of problem statement is useful for launching initiatives to help an organization achieve its desired state. 

Like creating SMART goals , you want to be as specific as possible. Note that the statement specifies “net revenue” instead of “gross revenue." This will help keep options open for potential actions. It also makes it clear that merely increasing sales is not an acceptable solution if higher marketing costs offset the net gains. 

Leaders at Example company aim to increase net revenue for its premium product line of widgets by 5% for the next fiscal year. However, the company currently lacks the necessary teams to tackle this objective effectively. To achieve this growth target, the company needs to expand its marketing and PR teams, as well as its product development teams, to prepare for scaling. 

Example company faces the challenge of generating a 5% increase in net revenue for its premium product line of widgets in the upcoming fiscal year. Currently, the company lacks the required workforce to drive this growth. Without adequate staff in the marketing, PR, and product development departments, the company's ability to effectively promote, position, and innovate its premium product line will be hindered. To achieve this kind of growth, it is essential that Example company expands teams, enhances capabilities, and strategically taps into the existing pool of loyal customers.

Increasing net revenue for the premium product line is crucial for Example company's overall business success. Failure to achieve the targeted growth rate can lead to missed revenue opportunities and stagnation in the market. By expanding the marketing and PR teams, Example company can strengthen its brand presence, effectively communicate the value proposition of its premium product line, and attract new customers.

Additionally, expanding the product development teams will enable the company to introduce new features and innovations, further enticing existing and potential customers. Therefore, addressing the workforce shortage and investing in the necessary resources are vital for achieving the revenue growth objective.

The primary objective of this project is to increase net revenue for Example company's premium product line of widgets by 5% in the next fiscal year. The specific objectives include:

  • Assessing the current workforce and identifying the gaps in the marketing, PR, and product development teams.
  • Expanding the marketing and PR teams by hiring skilled professionals who can effectively promote the premium product line and engage with the target audience.
  • Strengthening the product development teams by recruiting qualified individuals who can drive innovation, enhance product features, and meet customer demands.
  • Developing a comprehensive marketing and PR strategy to effectively communicate the value proposition of the premium product line and attract new customers.
  • Leveraging the existing base of loyal customers to increase repeat purchases, referrals, and brand advocacy.
  • Allocating sufficient resources, both time and manpower, to support the expansion and scaling efforts required to achieve the ambitious revenue growth target.
  • Monitoring and analyzing key performance indicators (KPIs) such as net revenue, customer acquisition, customer retention, and customer satisfaction to measure the success of the growth initiatives.
  • Establishing a sustainable plan to maintain the increased revenue growth beyond the next fiscal year by implementing strategies for continuous improvement and adaptation to market dynamics.

Example Problem Statement 3 The Stakeholder Problem Statement

In the last three quarterly employee engagement surveys , less than 30% of employees at Eample company stated that they feel valued by the company. This represents a 20% decline compared to the same period in the year prior. 

This strategy can be used to describe how a specific stakeholder group views the organization. It can be useful for exploring issues and potential solutions that impact specific groups of people. 

Note the statement makes it clear that the issue has been present in multiple surveys and it's significantly worse than the previous year. When researching root causes, the HR team will want to zero in on factors that changed since the previous year.

In the last three quarterly employee engagement surveys, less than 30% of employees at the Example company stated that they feel valued by the company. This indicates a significant decline of 20% compared to the same period in the previous year.

The company aspires to reduce this percentage further to under 10%. However, achieving this goal would require filling specialized roles and implementing substantial cultural changes within the organization.

Example company is facing a pressing issue regarding employee engagement and perceived value within the company. Over the past year, there has been a notable decline in the percentage of employees who feel valued. This decline is evident in the results of the quarterly employee engagement surveys, which consistently show less than 30% of employees reporting a sense of value by the company.

This decline of 20% compared to the previous year's data signifies a concerning trend. To address this problem effectively, Example company needs to undertake significant measures that go beyond superficial changes and necessitate filling specialized roles and transforming the company culture.

Employee engagement and a sense of value are crucial for organizational success. When employees feel valued, they tend to be more productive, committed, and motivated. Conversely, a lack of perceived value can lead to decreased morale, increased turnover rates, and diminished overall performance.

By addressing the decline in employees feeling valued, Example company can improve employee satisfaction, retention, and ultimately, overall productivity. Achieving the desired reduction to under 10% is essential to restore a positive work environment and build a culture of appreciation and respect.

The primary objective of this project is to increase the percentage of employees who feel valued by Example company, aiming to reduce it to under 10%. The specific objectives include:

  • Conducting a comprehensive analysis of the factors contributing to the decline in employees feeling valued, including organizational policies, communication practices, leadership styles, and cultural norms.
  • Identifying and filling specialized roles, such as employee engagement specialists or culture change agents, who can provide expertise and guidance in fostering a culture of value and appreciation.
  • Developing a holistic employee engagement strategy that encompasses various initiatives, including training programs, recognition programs, feedback mechanisms, and communication channels, to enhance employee value perception.
  • Implementing cultural changes within the organization that align with the values of appreciation, respect, and recognition, while fostering an environment where employees feel valued.
  • Communicating the importance of employee value and engagement throughout all levels of the organization, including leadership teams, managers, and supervisors, to ensure consistent messaging and support.
  • Monitoring progress through regular employee surveys, feedback sessions, and key performance indicators (KPIs) related to employee satisfaction, turnover rates, and overall engagement levels.
  • Providing ongoing support, resources, and training to managers and supervisors to enable them to effectively recognize and appreciate their teams and foster a culture of value within their respective departments.
  • Establishing a sustainable framework for maintaining high employee value perception in the long term, including regular evaluation and adaptation of employee engagement initiatives to address evolving needs and expectations.

problem-statement-man-with-arms-crossed-smiling

What are the 5 components of a problem statement?

In developing a problem statement, it helps to think like a journalist by focusing on the five Ws: who, what, when, where, and why or how. Keep in mind that every statement may not explicitly include each component. But asking these questions is a good way to make sure you’re covering the key elements:

  • Who: Who are the stakeholders that are affected by the problem?
  • What: What is the current state, desired state, or unmet need? 
  • When: When is the issue occurring or what is the timeframe involved?
  • Where: Where is the problem occurring? For example, is it in a specific department, location, or region?
  • Why: Why is this important or worth solving? How is the problem impacting your customers, employees, other stakeholders, or the organization? What is the magnitude of the problem? How large is the gap between the current and desired state? 

How do you write a problem statement?

There are many frameworks designed to help people write a problem statement. One example is outlined in the book, The Conclusion Trap: Four Steps to Better Decisions, ” by Daniel Markovitz. A faculty member at the Lean Enterprise Institute, the author uses many case studies from his work as a business consultant.

To simplify the process, we’ve broken it down into three steps:

1. Gather data and observe

Use data from research and reports, as well as facts from direct observation to answer the five Ws: who, what, when, where, and why. 

Whenever possible, get out in the field and talk directly with stakeholders impacted by the problem. Get a firsthand look at the work environment and equipment. This may mean spending time on the production floor asking employees questions about their work and challenges. Or taking customer service calls to learn more about customer pain points and problems your employees may be grappling with.    

2. Frame the problem properly  

A well-framed problem will help you avoid cognitive bias and open avenues for discussion. It will also encourage the exploration of more options.

A good way to test a problem statement for bias is to ask questions like these:

3. Keep asking why (and check in on the progress)

When it comes to problem-solving, stay curious. Lean on your growth mindset to keep asking why — and check in on the progress. 

Asking why until you’re satisfied that you’ve uncovered the root cause of the problem will help you avoid ineffective band-aid solutions.

Refining your problem statements

When solving any sort of problem, there’s likely a slew of questions that might arise for you. In order to holistically understand the root cause of the problem at hand, your workforce needs to stay curious. 

An effective problem statement creates the space you and your team need to explore, gain insight, and get buy-in before taking action.

If you have embarked on a proposed solution, it’s also important to understand that solutions are malleable. There may be no single best solution. Solutions can change and adapt as external factors change, too. It’s more important than ever that organizations stay agile . This means that interactive check-ins are critical to solving tough problems. By keeping a good pulse on your course of action, you’ll be better equipped to pivot when the time comes to change. 

BetterUp can help. With access to virtual coaching , your people can get personalized support to help solve tough problems of the future.

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Madeline Miles

Madeline is a writer, communicator, and storyteller who is passionate about using words to help drive positive change. She holds a bachelor's in English Creative Writing and Communication Studies and lives in Denver, Colorado. In her spare time, she's usually somewhere outside (preferably in the mountains) — and enjoys poetry and fiction.

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  • Research Process

What is a Problem Statement? [with examples]

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Table of Contents

The statement of the problem is one of the first things that a colleague or potential client will read. With the vastness of the information available at one’s fingertips in the online9 world, your work may have just a few seconds to draw in a reader to take a deeper look at your proposal before moving on to the next option. It explains quickly to the reader, the problem at hand, the need for research, and how you intend to do it.

A strong, clear description of the problem that drew you to your research has to be straightforward, easy to read and, most important, relevant. Why do you care about this problem? How can solving this problem impact the world? The problem statement is your opportunity to explain why you care and what you propose to do in the way of researching the problem.

A problem statement is an explanation in research that describes the issue that is in need of study . What problem is the research attempting to address? Having a Problem Statement allows the reader to quickly understand the purpose and intent of the research. The importance of writing your research proposal cannot be stressed enough. Check for more information on Writing a Scientific Research Project Proposal .

It is expected to be brief and concise , and should not include the findings of the research or detailed data . The average length of a research statement is generally about one page . It is going to define the problem, which can be thought of as a gap in the information base. There may be several solutions to this gap or lack of information, but that is not the concern of the problem statement. Its purpose is to summarize the current information and where a lack of knowledge may be presenting a problem that needs to be investigated .

The purpose of the problem statement is to identify the issue that is a concern and focus it in a way that allows it to be studied in a systematic way . It defines the problem and proposes a way to research a solution, or demonstrates why further information is needed in order for a solution to become possible.

What is Included in a Problem Statement?

Besides identifying the gap of understanding or the weakness of necessary data, it is important to explain the significance of this lack.

-How will your research contribute to the existing knowledge base in your field of study?

-How is it significant?

-Why does it matter?

Not all problems have only one solution so demonstrating the need for additional research can also be included in your problem statement. Once you identify the problem and the need for a solution, or for further study, then you can show how you intend to collect the needed data and present it.

How to Write a Statement of Problem in Research Proposal

It is helpful to begin with your goal. What do you see as the achievable goal if the problem you outline is solved? How will the proposed research theoretically change anything? What are the potential outcomes?

Then you can discuss how the problem prevents the ability to reach your realistic and achievable solution. It is what stands in the way of changing an issue for the better. Talk about the present state of affairs and how the problem impacts a person’s life, for example.

It’s helpful at this point to generally layout the present knowledge and understanding of the subject at hand, before then describing the gaps of knowledge that are currently in need of study. Your problem statement is a proposed solution to address one of these gaps.

A good problem statement will also layout the repercussions of leaving the problem as it currently stands. What is the significance of not addressing this problem? What are the possible future outcomes?

Example of Problem Statement in Research Proposal

If, for example , you intended to research the effect of vitamin D supplementation on the immune system , you would begin with a review of the current knowledge of vitamin D’s known function in relation to the immune system and how a deficiency of it impacts a person’s defenses.

You would describe the ideal environment in the body when there is a sufficient level of vitamin D. Then, begin to identify the problems associated with vitamin D deficiency and the difficulty of raising the level through supplementation, along with the consequences of that deficiency. Here you are beginning to identify the problem of a common deficiency and the current difficulty of increasing the level of vitamin D in the blood.

At this stage, you may begin to identify the problem and narrow it down in a way that is practical to a research project. Perhaps you are proposing a novel way of introducing Vitamin D in a way that allows for better absorption by the gut, or in a combination with another product that increases its level in the blood.

Describe the way your research in this area will contribute to the knowledge base on how to increase levels of vitamin D in a specific group of subjects, perhaps menopausal women with breast cancer. The research proposal is then described in practical terms.

How to write a problem statement in research?

Problem statements differ depending on the type and topic of research and vary between a few sentences to a few paragraphs.

However, the problem statement should not drag on needlessly. Despite the absence of a fixed format, a good research problem statement usually consists of three main parts:

Context: This section explains the background for your research. It identifies the problem and describes an ideal scenario that could exist in the absence of the problem. It also includes any past attempts and shortcomings at solving the problem.

Significance: This section defines how the problem prevents the ideal scenario from being achieved, including its negative impacts on the society or field of research. It should include who will be the most affected by a solution to the problem, the relevance of the study that you are proposing, and how it can contribute to the existing body of research.

Solution: This section describes the aim and objectives of your research, and your solution to overcome the problem. Finally, it need not focus on the perfect solution, but rather on addressing a realistic goal to move closer to the ideal scenario.

Here is a cheat sheet to help you with formulating a good problem statement.

1. Begin with a clear indication that the problem statement is going to be discussed next. You can start with a generic sentence like, “The problem that this study addresses…” This will inform your readers of what to expect next.

2. Next, mention the consequences of not solving the problem . You can touch upon who is or will be affected if the problem continues, and how.

3. Conclude with indicating the type of research /information that is needed to solve the problem. Be sure to reference authors who may have suggested the necessity of such research.

This will then directly lead to your proposed research objective and workplan and how that is expected to solve the problem i.e., close the research gap.

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How to Write a Problem Statement in 5 Steps

Lindsay Kramer

A problem statement is a summary of a problem its writer hopes to solve. It details the parties affected by the problem, the financial and other costs associated with the issue, and when applicable, the root causes of it.

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What is a problem statement?

A problem statement briefly explains a problem you want to correct. In most cases, it doesn’t include a proposed solution. Rather, it simply states a problem and articulates the problem’s details. In some cases, a problem statement is known as an opportunity statement —generally when the statement presents an opportunity for innovation or growth rather than a problem to be solved.

Problem statements are often used in executive summaries for projects, business proposals , and research proposals. By stating a specific challenge, the problem statement demonstrates why the project or proposal is necessary.

Parts of a problem statement

A problem statement should be about 150 to 300 words. It doesn’t have to be overly descriptive, but it should be a few sentences long and provide enough information for the reader to fully grasp the issue. A strong problem statement includes the following pieces of information:

The problem’s cause(s) and background details

Start your problem statement with the problem’s cause—if one exists and you can name it. It’s possible you don’t know what caused the issue. In such cases, don’t make assumptions or look to assign blame. Instead, simply articulate exactly what’s happening.

The impact of the problem

After introducing the problem, discuss the people affected by it and how it affects them.

  • Other effects caused by the problem

The last component of a problem statement is the problem’s repercussions. Think of these as the broader impact the problem has on a group or organization.

How to write a problem statement in 5 steps

1 answer the five w s.

The first step in writing a problem statement is answering the questions known as the five Ws :

What is the problem? Where is the problem occurring? Why is it occurring? Who is it affecting? When does it cause difficulties?

The answers to these questions should provide a more comprehensive look at the situation. And a better understanding of the problem’s facets may make easier to write a well-constructed problem statement.

2 Describe the ideal situation

The next step is to write a description of the ideal scenario. If the problem didn’t exist, what would the reality be? Exploring the ideal situation helps you pinpoint the causes, details, and side effects of the problem you might have initially missed. Elements of this ideal situation may find their way into your problem statement or subsequent purpose statement.

3 Explain the problem and why it matters

With a clear , multi-angled picture of the problem , you’re ready to write a professional problem statement that articulates the situation at hand. In this step, present the information in a logical order : State the problem, the reason (or reasons) it’s a problem, and thus, why it needs to be fixed.

4 Explore the problem’s costs

In this step, explain why the problem matters by examining what it costs the people affected—financially and non-financially. For example, you may show that your company’s reliance on outdated software costs money for recurring repairs and that its resulting downtime also costs employee productivity.

4 Support your claim with facts

Last, make sure you have relevant facts and statistics to support your claim. Otherwise, there’s little reason for the reader to fund your research or support the changes you claim would resolve the problem.

Problem statement vs. purpose statement

Problem statements and purpose statements can be easily confused. A purpose statement follows a problem statement. After a problem is articulated in a problem statement, a purpose statement outlines how the author suggests fixing the problem. When presented by a company or organization, these statements are often provided alongside a mission statement .

Problem statement examples

Since returning to the office full time, the Working Group’s productivity has decreased approximately 30 percent. Team members, delayed by rush-hour traffic, frequently arrive at work after 9 a.m. When they arrive, they are stressed and unable to focus for the first hour or so of their workday. This often means that about five hours’ worth of work is completed each eight-hour day, in contrast to the team’s higher productivity rate while working from home. Team members who work through lunch are not significantly more productive than their peers who take lunch. Our reduced productivity has made it difficult to acquire new clients in the past year. With fewer new clients than we onboarded in past years, the Hartsgrove Group is not projected to meet our revenue goals for this fiscal year.

In the past three academic years, teachers in our elementary school have spent the month of September reviewing material their students learned in their previous grades rather than introducing new material. This trend has been noted in first-, second-, third-, and fourth-grade classrooms. Currently, students are not required to complete summer reading assignments, nor does our school provide academic resources throughout the summer break. Because students’ skills regress over the summer and they are retaught each September, teachers find themselves rushing through higher-level material later in the year in order to have students ready for state testing in the spring. When tested on this higher-level material, 40 percent of first- and second-grade students and 50 percent of third- and fourth-grade students are found to be performing below grade-level benchmarks as defined by the state’s core curriculum.

Problem statement FAQs

A problem statement is a short paragraph, about 150 to 300 words, that clearly outlines a specific problem that needs solving.

What is the purpose of a problem statement?

The purpose of a problem statement is to articulate a problem, its causes, and its repercussions.

What are the parts of a problem statement?

A problem statement should include the following information:

  • The problem’s causes and background details
  • The people affected by the problem

how to make problem statement in case study

Do Your Students Know How to Analyze a Case—Really?

Explore more.

  • Case Teaching
  • Student Engagement

J ust as actors, athletes, and musicians spend thousands of hours practicing their craft, business students benefit from practicing their critical-thinking and decision-making skills. Students, however, often have limited exposure to real-world problem-solving scenarios; they need more opportunities to practice tackling tough business problems and deciding on—and executing—the best solutions.

To ensure students have ample opportunity to develop these critical-thinking and decision-making skills, we believe business faculty should shift from teaching mostly principles and ideas to mostly applications and practices. And in doing so, they should emphasize the case method, which simulates real-world management challenges and opportunities for students.

To help educators facilitate this shift and help students get the most out of case-based learning, we have developed a framework for analyzing cases. We call it PACADI (Problem, Alternatives, Criteria, Analysis, Decision, Implementation); it can improve learning outcomes by helping students better solve and analyze business problems, make decisions, and develop and implement strategy. Here, we’ll explain why we developed this framework, how it works, and what makes it an effective learning tool.

The Case for Cases: Helping Students Think Critically

Business students must develop critical-thinking and analytical skills, which are essential to their ability to make good decisions in functional areas such as marketing, finance, operations, and information technology, as well as to understand the relationships among these functions. For example, the decisions a marketing manager must make include strategic planning (segments, products, and channels); execution (digital messaging, media, branding, budgets, and pricing); and operations (integrated communications and technologies), as well as how to implement decisions across functional areas.

Faculty can use many types of cases to help students develop these skills. These include the prototypical “paper cases”; live cases , which feature guest lecturers such as entrepreneurs or corporate leaders and on-site visits; and multimedia cases , which immerse students into real situations. Most cases feature an explicit or implicit decision that a protagonist—whether it is an individual, a group, or an organization—must make.

For students new to learning by the case method—and even for those with case experience—some common issues can emerge; these issues can sometimes be a barrier for educators looking to ensure the best possible outcomes in their case classrooms. Unsure of how to dig into case analysis on their own, students may turn to the internet or rely on former students for “answers” to assigned cases. Or, when assigned to provide answers to assignment questions in teams, students might take a divide-and-conquer approach but not take the time to regroup and provide answers that are consistent with one other.

To help address these issues, which we commonly experienced in our classes, we wanted to provide our students with a more structured approach for how they analyze cases—and to really think about making decisions from the protagonists’ point of view. We developed the PACADI framework to address this need.

PACADI: A Six-Step Decision-Making Approach

The PACADI framework is a six-step decision-making approach that can be used in lieu of traditional end-of-case questions. It offers a structured, integrated, and iterative process that requires students to analyze case information, apply business concepts to derive valuable insights, and develop recommendations based on these insights.

Prior to beginning a PACADI assessment, which we’ll outline here, students should first prepare a two-paragraph summary—a situation analysis—that highlights the key case facts. Then, we task students with providing a five-page PACADI case analysis (excluding appendices) based on the following six steps.

Step 1: Problem definition. What is the major challenge, problem, opportunity, or decision that has to be made? If there is more than one problem, choose the most important one. Often when solving the key problem, other issues will surface and be addressed. The problem statement may be framed as a question; for example, How can brand X improve market share among millennials in Canada? Usually the problem statement has to be re-written several times during the analysis of a case as students peel back the layers of symptoms or causation.

Step 2: Alternatives. Identify in detail the strategic alternatives to address the problem; three to five options generally work best. Alternatives should be mutually exclusive, realistic, creative, and feasible given the constraints of the situation. Doing nothing or delaying the decision to a later date are not considered acceptable alternatives.

Step 3: Criteria. What are the key decision criteria that will guide decision-making? In a marketing course, for example, these may include relevant marketing criteria such as segmentation, positioning, advertising and sales, distribution, and pricing. Financial criteria useful in evaluating the alternatives should be included—for example, income statement variables, customer lifetime value, payback, etc. Students must discuss their rationale for selecting the decision criteria and the weights and importance for each factor.

Step 4: Analysis. Provide an in-depth analysis of each alternative based on the criteria chosen in step three. Decision tables using criteria as columns and alternatives as rows can be helpful. The pros and cons of the various choices as well as the short- and long-term implications of each may be evaluated. Best, worst, and most likely scenarios can also be insightful.

Step 5: Decision. Students propose their solution to the problem. This decision is justified based on an in-depth analysis. Explain why the recommendation made is the best fit for the criteria.

Step 6: Implementation plan. Sound business decisions may fail due to poor execution. To enhance the likeliness of a successful project outcome, students describe the key steps (activities) to implement the recommendation, timetable, projected costs, expected competitive reaction, success metrics, and risks in the plan.

“Students note that using the PACADI framework yields ‘aha moments’—they learned something surprising in the case that led them to think differently about the problem and their proposed solution.”

PACADI’s Benefits: Meaningfully and Thoughtfully Applying Business Concepts

The PACADI framework covers all of the major elements of business decision-making, including implementation, which is often overlooked. By stepping through the whole framework, students apply relevant business concepts and solve management problems via a systematic, comprehensive approach; they’re far less likely to surface piecemeal responses.

As students explore each part of the framework, they may realize that they need to make changes to a previous step. For instance, when working on implementation, students may realize that the alternative they selected cannot be executed or will not be profitable, and thus need to rethink their decision. Or, they may discover that the criteria need to be revised since the list of decision factors they identified is incomplete (for example, the factors may explain key marketing concerns but fail to address relevant financial considerations) or is unrealistic (for example, they suggest a 25 percent increase in revenues without proposing an increased promotional budget).

In addition, the PACADI framework can be used alongside quantitative assignments, in-class exercises, and business and management simulations. The structured, multi-step decision framework encourages careful and sequential analysis to solve business problems. Incorporating PACADI as an overarching decision-making method across different projects will ultimately help students achieve desired learning outcomes. As a practical “beyond-the-classroom” tool, the PACADI framework is not a contrived course assignment; it reflects the decision-making approach that managers, executives, and entrepreneurs exercise daily. Case analysis introduces students to the real-world process of making business decisions quickly and correctly, often with limited information. This framework supplies an organized and disciplined process that students can readily defend in writing and in class discussions.

PACADI in Action: An Example

Here’s an example of how students used the PACADI framework for a recent case analysis on CVS, a large North American drugstore chain.

The CVS Prescription for Customer Value*

PACADI Stage

Summary Response

How should CVS Health evolve from the “drugstore of your neighborhood” to the “drugstore of your future”?

Alternatives

A1. Kaizen (continuous improvement)

A2. Product development

A3. Market development

A4. Personalization (micro-targeting)

Criteria (include weights)

C1. Customer value: service, quality, image, and price (40%)

C2. Customer obsession (20%)

C3. Growth through related businesses (20%)

C4. Customer retention and customer lifetime value (20%)

Each alternative was analyzed by each criterion using a Customer Value Assessment Tool

Alternative 4 (A4): Personalization was selected. This is operationalized via: segmentation—move toward segment-of-1 marketing; geodemographics and lifestyle emphasis; predictive data analysis; relationship marketing; people, principles, and supply chain management; and exceptional customer service.

Implementation

Partner with leading medical school

Curbside pick-up

Pet pharmacy

E-newsletter for customers and employees

Employee incentive program

CVS beauty days

Expand to Latin America and Caribbean

Healthier/happier corner

Holiday toy drives/community outreach

*Source: A. Weinstein, Y. Rodriguez, K. Sims, R. Vergara, “The CVS Prescription for Superior Customer Value—A Case Study,” Back to the Future: Revisiting the Foundations of Marketing from Society for Marketing Advances, West Palm Beach, FL (November 2, 2018).

Results of Using the PACADI Framework

When faculty members at our respective institutions at Nova Southeastern University (NSU) and the University of North Carolina Wilmington have used the PACADI framework, our classes have been more structured and engaging. Students vigorously debate each element of their decision and note that this framework yields an “aha moment”—they learned something surprising in the case that led them to think differently about the problem and their proposed solution.

These lively discussions enhance individual and collective learning. As one external metric of this improvement, we have observed a 2.5 percent increase in student case grade performance at NSU since this framework was introduced.

Tips to Get Started

The PACADI approach works well in in-person, online, and hybrid courses. This is particularly important as more universities have moved to remote learning options. Because students have varied educational and cultural backgrounds, work experience, and familiarity with case analysis, we recommend that faculty members have students work on their first case using this new framework in small teams (two or three students). Additional analyses should then be solo efforts.

To use PACADI effectively in your classroom, we suggest the following:

Advise your students that your course will stress critical thinking and decision-making skills, not just course concepts and theory.

Use a varied mix of case studies. As marketing professors, we often address consumer and business markets; goods, services, and digital commerce; domestic and global business; and small and large companies in a single MBA course.

As a starting point, provide a short explanation (about 20 to 30 minutes) of the PACADI framework with a focus on the conceptual elements. You can deliver this face to face or through videoconferencing.

Give students an opportunity to practice the case analysis methodology via an ungraded sample case study. Designate groups of five to seven students to discuss the case and the six steps in breakout sessions (in class or via Zoom).

Ensure case analyses are weighted heavily as a grading component. We suggest 30–50 percent of the overall course grade.

Once cases are graded, debrief with the class on what they did right and areas needing improvement (30- to 40-minute in-person or Zoom session).

Encourage faculty teams that teach common courses to build appropriate instructional materials, grading rubrics, videos, sample cases, and teaching notes.

When selecting case studies, we have found that the best ones for PACADI analyses are about 15 pages long and revolve around a focal management decision. This length provides adequate depth yet is not protracted. Some of our tested and favorite marketing cases include Brand W , Hubspot , Kraft Foods Canada , TRSB(A) , and Whiskey & Cheddar .

Art Weinstein

Art Weinstein , Ph.D., is a professor of marketing at Nova Southeastern University, Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He has published more than 80 scholarly articles and papers and eight books on customer-focused marketing strategy. His latest book is Superior Customer Value—Finding and Keeping Customers in the Now Economy . Dr. Weinstein has consulted for many leading technology and service companies.

Herbert V. Brotspies

Herbert V. Brotspies , D.B.A., is an adjunct professor of marketing at Nova Southeastern University. He has over 30 years’ experience as a vice president in marketing, strategic planning, and acquisitions for Fortune 50 consumer products companies working in the United States and internationally. His research interests include return on marketing investment, consumer behavior, business-to-business strategy, and strategic planning.

John T. Gironda

John T. Gironda , Ph.D., is an assistant professor of marketing at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. His research has been published in Industrial Marketing Management, Psychology & Marketing , and Journal of Marketing Management . He has also presented at major marketing conferences including the American Marketing Association, Academy of Marketing Science, and Society for Marketing Advances.

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How to Write a Case Study: The Compelling Step-by-Step Guide

How to write a case study the compelling step by step guide

Is there a poignant pain point that needs to be addressed in your company or industry? Do you have a possible solution but want to test your theory? Why not turn this drive into a transformative learning experience and an opportunity to produce a high-quality business case study? However, before that occurs, you may wonder how to write a case study.

You may also be thinking about why you should produce one at all. Did you know that case studies are impactful and the fifth most used type of content in marketing , despite being more resource-intensive to produce?

Below, we’ll delve into what a case study is, its benefits, and how to approach business case study writing:

Definition of a Written case study and its Purpose

A case study is a research method that involves a detailed and comprehensive examination of a specific real-life situation. It’s often used in various fields, including business, education, economics, and sociology, to understand a complex issue better. 

It typically includes an in-depth analysis of the subject and an examination of its context and background information, incorporating data from multiple sources, such as interviews, observations, and existing literature. 

The ultimate aim is to provide a rich and detailed account of a situation to identify patterns and relationships, generate new insights and understanding, illustrate theories, or test hypotheses.

Importance of Business Case Study Writing

As such an in-depth exploration into a subject with potentially far-reaching consequences, a case study has benefits to offer various stakeholders in the organisation leading it.

  • Business Founders: Use business case study writing to highlight real-life examples of companies or individuals who have benefited from their products or services, providing potential customers with a tangible demonstration of the value their business can bring. It can be effective for attracting new clients or investors by showcasing thought leadership and building trust and credibility.
  • Marketers through case studies and encourage them to take action: Marketers use a case studies writer to showcase the success of a particular product, service, or marketing campaign. They can use persuasive storytelling to engage the reader, whether it’s consumers, clients, or potential partners.
  • Researchers: They allow researchers to gain insight into real-world scenarios, explore a variety of perspectives, and develop a nuanced understanding of the factors that contribute to success or failure. Additionally, case studies provide practical business recommendations and help build a body of knowledge in a particular field.

How to Write a Case Study – The Key Elements 

How to Write a Case Study – The Key Elements

Considering how to write a case study can seem overwhelming at first. However, looking at it in terms of its constituent parts will help you to get started, focus on the key issue(s), and execute it efficiently and effectively.

Problem or Challenge Statement

A problem statement concisely describes a specific issue or problem that a written case study aims to address. It sets the stage for the rest of the case study and provides context for the reader. 

Here are some steps to help you write a case study problem statement:

  • Identify the problem or issue that the case study will focus on.
  • Research the problem to better understand its context, causes, and effects.
  • Define the problem clearly and concisely. Be specific and avoid generalisations.
  • State the significance of the problem: Explain why the issue is worth solving. Consider the impact it has on the individual, organisation, or industry.
  • Provide background information that will help the reader understand the context of the problem.
  • Keep it concise: A problem statement should be brief and to the point. Avoid going into too much detail – leave this for the body of the case study!

Here is an example of a problem statement for a case study:

“ The XYZ Company is facing a problem with declining sales and increasing customer complaints. Despite improving the customer experience, the company has yet to reverse the trend . This case study will examine the causes of the problem and propose solutions to improve sales and customer satisfaction. “

Solutions and interventions

Here are some steps to help you write a case study solution or intervention

Business case study writing provides a solution or intervention that identifies the best course of action to address the problem or issue described in the problem statement. 

Here are some steps to help you write a case study solution or intervention:

  • Identify the objective , which should be directly related to the problem statement.
  • Analyse the data, which could include data from interviews, observations, and existing literature.
  • Evaluate alternatives that have been proposed or implemented in similar situations, considering their strengths, weaknesses, and impact.
  • Choose the best solution based on the objective and data analysis. Remember to consider factors such as feasibility, cost, and potential impact.
  • Justify the solution by explaining how it addresses the problem and why it’s the best solution with supportive evidence.
  • Provide a detailed, step-by-step plan of action that considers the resources required, timeline, and expected outcomes.

Example of a solution or intervention for a case study:

“ To address the problem of declining sales and increasing customer complaints at the XYZ Company, we propose a comprehensive customer experience improvement program. “

“ This program will involve the following steps:

  • Conducting customer surveys to gather feedback and identify areas for improvement
  • Implementing training programs for employees to improve customer service skills
  • Revising the company’s product offerings to meet customer needs better
  • Implementing a customer loyalty program to encourage repeat business “

“ These steps will improve customer satisfaction and increase sales. We expect a 10% increase in sales within the first year of implementation, based on similar programs implemented by other companies in the industry. “

Possible Results and outcomes

Writing case study results and outcomes

Writing case study results and outcomes involves presenting the impact of the proposed solution or intervention. 

Here are some steps to help you write case study results and outcomes:

  • Evaluate the solution by measuring its effectiveness in addressing the problem statement. That could involve collecting data, conducting surveys, or monitoring key performance indicators.
  • Present the results clearly and concisely, using graphs, charts, and tables to represent the data where applicable visually. Be sure to include both quantitative and qualitative results.
  • Compare the results to the expectations set in the solution or intervention section. Explain any discrepancies and why they occurred.
  • Discuss the outcomes and impact of the solution, considering the benefits and drawbacks and what lessons can be learned.
  • Provide recommendations for future action based on the results. For example, what changes should be made to improve the solution, or what additional steps should be taken?

Example of results and outcomes for a case study:

“ The customer experience improvement program implemented at the XYZ Company was successful. We found significant improvement in employee health and productivity. The program, which included on-site exercise classes and healthy food options, led to a 25% decrease in employee absenteeism and a 15% increase in productivity . “

“ Employee satisfaction with the program was high, with 90% reporting an improved work-life balance. Despite initial costs, the program proved to be cost-effective in the long run, with decreased healthcare costs and increased employee retention. The company plans to continue the program and explore expanding it to other offices .”

Case Study Key takeaways

Key takeaways are the most important and relevant insights and lessons

Key takeaways are the most important and relevant insights and lessons that can be drawn from a case study. Key takeaways can help readers understand the most significant outcomes and impacts of the solution or intervention. 

Here are some steps to help you write case study key takeaways:

  • Summarise the problem that was addressed and the solution that was proposed.
  • Highlight the most significant results from the case study.
  • Identify the key insights and lessons , including what makes the case study unique and relevant to others.
  • Consider the broader implications of the outcomes for the industry or field.
  • Present the key takeaways clearly and concisely , using bullet points or a list format to make the information easy to understand.

Example of key takeaways for a case study:

  • The customer experience improvement program at XYZ Company successfully increased customer satisfaction and sales.
  • Employee training and product development were critical components of the program’s success.
  • The program resulted in a 20% increase in repeat business, demonstrating the value of a customer loyalty program.
  • Despite some initial challenges, the program proved cost-effective in the long run.
  • The case study results demonstrate the importance of investing in customer experience to improve business outcomes.

Steps for a Case Study Writer to Follow

Steps for a Case Study Writer to Follow

If you still feel lost, the good news is as a case studies writer; there is a blueprint you can follow to complete your work. It may be helpful at first to proceed step-by-step and let your research and analysis guide the process:

  • Select a suitable case study subject: Ask yourself what the purpose of the business case study is. Is it to illustrate a specific problem and solution, showcase a success story, or demonstrate best practices in a particular field? Based on this, you can select a suitable subject by researching and evaluating various options.
  • Research and gather information: We have already covered this in detail above. However, always ensure all data is relevant, valid, and comes from credible sources. Research is the crux of your written case study, and you can’t compromise on its quality.
  • Develop a clear and concise problem statement: Follow the guide above, and don’t rush to finalise it. It will set the tone and lay the foundation for the entire study.
  • Detail the solution or intervention: Follow the steps above to detail your proposed solution or intervention.
  • Present the results and outcomes: Remember that a case study is an unbiased test of how effectively a particular solution addresses an issue. Not all case studies are meant to end in a resounding success. You can often learn more from a loss than a win.
  • Include key takeaways and conclusions: Follow the steps above to detail your proposed business case study solution or intervention.

Tips for How to Write a Case Study

Here are some bonus tips for how to write a case study. These tips will help improve the quality of your work and the impact it will have on readers:

  • Use a storytelling format: Just because a case study is research-based doesn’t mean it has to be boring and detached. Telling a story will engage readers and help them better identify with the problem statement and see the value in the outcomes. Framing it as a narrative in a real-world context will make it more relatable and memorable.
  • Include quotes and testimonials from stakeholders: This will add credibility and depth to your written case study. It also helps improve engagement and will give your written work an emotional impact.
  • Use visuals and graphics to support your narrative: Humans are better at processing visually presented data than endless walls of black-on-white text. Visual aids will make it easier to grasp key concepts and make your case study more engaging and enjoyable. It breaks up the text and allows readers to identify key findings and highlights quickly.
  • Edit and revise your case study for clarity and impact: As a long and involved project, it can be easy to lose your narrative while in the midst of it. Multiple rounds of editing are vital to ensure your narrative holds, that your message gets across, and that your spelling and grammar are correct, of course!

Our Final Thoughts

A written case study can be a powerful tool in your writing arsenal. It’s a great way to showcase your knowledge in a particular business vertical, industry, or situation. Not only is it an effective way to build authority and engage an audience, but also to explore an important problem and the possible solutions to it. It’s a win-win, even if the proposed solution doesn’t have the outcome you expect. So now that you know more about how to write a case study, try it or talk to us for further guidance.

Are you ready to write your own case study?

Begin by bookmarking this article, so you can come back to it. And for more writing advice and support, read our resource guides  and  blog content . If you are unsure, please reach out with questions, and we will provide the answers or assistance you need.

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Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Assignments

  • Annotated Bibliography
  • Analyzing a Scholarly Journal Article
  • Group Presentations
  • Dealing with Nervousness
  • Using Visual Aids
  • Grading Someone Else's Paper
  • Types of Structured Group Activities
  • Group Project Survival Skills
  • Leading a Class Discussion
  • Multiple Book Review Essay
  • Reviewing Collected Works
  • Writing a Case Analysis Paper
  • Writing a Case Study
  • About Informed Consent
  • Writing Field Notes
  • Writing a Policy Memo
  • Writing a Reflective Paper
  • Writing a Research Proposal
  • Generative AI and Writing
  • Acknowledgments

A case study research paper examines a person, place, event, condition, phenomenon, or other type of subject of analysis in order to extrapolate  key themes and results that help predict future trends, illuminate previously hidden issues that can be applied to practice, and/or provide a means for understanding an important research problem with greater clarity. A case study research paper usually examines a single subject of analysis, but case study papers can also be designed as a comparative investigation that shows relationships between two or more subjects. The methods used to study a case can rest within a quantitative, qualitative, or mixed-method investigative paradigm.

Case Studies. Writing@CSU. Colorado State University; Mills, Albert J. , Gabrielle Durepos, and Eiden Wiebe, editors. Encyclopedia of Case Study Research . Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2010 ; “What is a Case Study?” In Swanborn, Peter G. Case Study Research: What, Why and How? London: SAGE, 2010.

How to Approach Writing a Case Study Research Paper

General information about how to choose a topic to investigate can be found under the " Choosing a Research Problem " tab in the Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper writing guide. Review this page because it may help you identify a subject of analysis that can be investigated using a case study design.

However, identifying a case to investigate involves more than choosing the research problem . A case study encompasses a problem contextualized around the application of in-depth analysis, interpretation, and discussion, often resulting in specific recommendations for action or for improving existing conditions. As Seawright and Gerring note, practical considerations such as time and access to information can influence case selection, but these issues should not be the sole factors used in describing the methodological justification for identifying a particular case to study. Given this, selecting a case includes considering the following:

  • The case represents an unusual or atypical example of a research problem that requires more in-depth analysis? Cases often represent a topic that rests on the fringes of prior investigations because the case may provide new ways of understanding the research problem. For example, if the research problem is to identify strategies to improve policies that support girl's access to secondary education in predominantly Muslim nations, you could consider using Azerbaijan as a case study rather than selecting a more obvious nation in the Middle East. Doing so may reveal important new insights into recommending how governments in other predominantly Muslim nations can formulate policies that support improved access to education for girls.
  • The case provides important insight or illuminate a previously hidden problem? In-depth analysis of a case can be based on the hypothesis that the case study will reveal trends or issues that have not been exposed in prior research or will reveal new and important implications for practice. For example, anecdotal evidence may suggest drug use among homeless veterans is related to their patterns of travel throughout the day. Assuming prior studies have not looked at individual travel choices as a way to study access to illicit drug use, a case study that observes a homeless veteran could reveal how issues of personal mobility choices facilitate regular access to illicit drugs. Note that it is important to conduct a thorough literature review to ensure that your assumption about the need to reveal new insights or previously hidden problems is valid and evidence-based.
  • The case challenges and offers a counter-point to prevailing assumptions? Over time, research on any given topic can fall into a trap of developing assumptions based on outdated studies that are still applied to new or changing conditions or the idea that something should simply be accepted as "common sense," even though the issue has not been thoroughly tested in current practice. A case study analysis may offer an opportunity to gather evidence that challenges prevailing assumptions about a research problem and provide a new set of recommendations applied to practice that have not been tested previously. For example, perhaps there has been a long practice among scholars to apply a particular theory in explaining the relationship between two subjects of analysis. Your case could challenge this assumption by applying an innovative theoretical framework [perhaps borrowed from another discipline] to explore whether this approach offers new ways of understanding the research problem. Taking a contrarian stance is one of the most important ways that new knowledge and understanding develops from existing literature.
  • The case provides an opportunity to pursue action leading to the resolution of a problem? Another way to think about choosing a case to study is to consider how the results from investigating a particular case may result in findings that reveal ways in which to resolve an existing or emerging problem. For example, studying the case of an unforeseen incident, such as a fatal accident at a railroad crossing, can reveal hidden issues that could be applied to preventative measures that contribute to reducing the chance of accidents in the future. In this example, a case study investigating the accident could lead to a better understanding of where to strategically locate additional signals at other railroad crossings so as to better warn drivers of an approaching train, particularly when visibility is hindered by heavy rain, fog, or at night.
  • The case offers a new direction in future research? A case study can be used as a tool for an exploratory investigation that highlights the need for further research about the problem. A case can be used when there are few studies that help predict an outcome or that establish a clear understanding about how best to proceed in addressing a problem. For example, after conducting a thorough literature review [very important!], you discover that little research exists showing the ways in which women contribute to promoting water conservation in rural communities of east central Africa. A case study of how women contribute to saving water in a rural village of Uganda can lay the foundation for understanding the need for more thorough research that documents how women in their roles as cooks and family caregivers think about water as a valuable resource within their community. This example of a case study could also point to the need for scholars to build new theoretical frameworks around the topic [e.g., applying feminist theories of work and family to the issue of water conservation].

Eisenhardt, Kathleen M. “Building Theories from Case Study Research.” Academy of Management Review 14 (October 1989): 532-550; Emmel, Nick. Sampling and Choosing Cases in Qualitative Research: A Realist Approach . Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2013; Gerring, John. “What Is a Case Study and What Is It Good for?” American Political Science Review 98 (May 2004): 341-354; Mills, Albert J. , Gabrielle Durepos, and Eiden Wiebe, editors. Encyclopedia of Case Study Research . Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2010; Seawright, Jason and John Gerring. "Case Selection Techniques in Case Study Research." Political Research Quarterly 61 (June 2008): 294-308.

Structure and Writing Style

The purpose of a paper in the social sciences designed around a case study is to thoroughly investigate a subject of analysis in order to reveal a new understanding about the research problem and, in so doing, contributing new knowledge to what is already known from previous studies. In applied social sciences disciplines [e.g., education, social work, public administration, etc.], case studies may also be used to reveal best practices, highlight key programs, or investigate interesting aspects of professional work.

In general, the structure of a case study research paper is not all that different from a standard college-level research paper. However, there are subtle differences you should be aware of. Here are the key elements to organizing and writing a case study research paper.

I.  Introduction

As with any research paper, your introduction should serve as a roadmap for your readers to ascertain the scope and purpose of your study . The introduction to a case study research paper, however, should not only describe the research problem and its significance, but you should also succinctly describe why the case is being used and how it relates to addressing the problem. The two elements should be linked. With this in mind, a good introduction answers these four questions:

  • What is being studied? Describe the research problem and describe the subject of analysis [the case] you have chosen to address the problem. Explain how they are linked and what elements of the case will help to expand knowledge and understanding about the problem.
  • Why is this topic important to investigate? Describe the significance of the research problem and state why a case study design and the subject of analysis that the paper is designed around is appropriate in addressing the problem.
  • What did we know about this topic before I did this study? Provide background that helps lead the reader into the more in-depth literature review to follow. If applicable, summarize prior case study research applied to the research problem and why it fails to adequately address the problem. Describe why your case will be useful. If no prior case studies have been used to address the research problem, explain why you have selected this subject of analysis.
  • How will this study advance new knowledge or new ways of understanding? Explain why your case study will be suitable in helping to expand knowledge and understanding about the research problem.

Each of these questions should be addressed in no more than a few paragraphs. Exceptions to this can be when you are addressing a complex research problem or subject of analysis that requires more in-depth background information.

II.  Literature Review

The literature review for a case study research paper is generally structured the same as it is for any college-level research paper. The difference, however, is that the literature review is focused on providing background information and  enabling historical interpretation of the subject of analysis in relation to the research problem the case is intended to address . This includes synthesizing studies that help to:

  • Place relevant works in the context of their contribution to understanding the case study being investigated . This would involve summarizing studies that have used a similar subject of analysis to investigate the research problem. If there is literature using the same or a very similar case to study, you need to explain why duplicating past research is important [e.g., conditions have changed; prior studies were conducted long ago, etc.].
  • Describe the relationship each work has to the others under consideration that informs the reader why this case is applicable . Your literature review should include a description of any works that support using the case to investigate the research problem and the underlying research questions.
  • Identify new ways to interpret prior research using the case study . If applicable, review any research that has examined the research problem using a different research design. Explain how your use of a case study design may reveal new knowledge or a new perspective or that can redirect research in an important new direction.
  • Resolve conflicts amongst seemingly contradictory previous studies . This refers to synthesizing any literature that points to unresolved issues of concern about the research problem and describing how the subject of analysis that forms the case study can help resolve these existing contradictions.
  • Point the way in fulfilling a need for additional research . Your review should examine any literature that lays a foundation for understanding why your case study design and the subject of analysis around which you have designed your study may reveal a new way of approaching the research problem or offer a perspective that points to the need for additional research.
  • Expose any gaps that exist in the literature that the case study could help to fill . Summarize any literature that not only shows how your subject of analysis contributes to understanding the research problem, but how your case contributes to a new way of understanding the problem that prior research has failed to do.
  • Locate your own research within the context of existing literature [very important!] . Collectively, your literature review should always place your case study within the larger domain of prior research about the problem. The overarching purpose of reviewing pertinent literature in a case study paper is to demonstrate that you have thoroughly identified and synthesized prior studies in relation to explaining the relevance of the case in addressing the research problem.

III.  Method

In this section, you explain why you selected a particular case [i.e., subject of analysis] and the strategy you used to identify and ultimately decide that your case was appropriate in addressing the research problem. The way you describe the methods used varies depending on the type of subject of analysis that constitutes your case study.

If your subject of analysis is an incident or event . In the social and behavioral sciences, the event or incident that represents the case to be studied is usually bounded by time and place, with a clear beginning and end and with an identifiable location or position relative to its surroundings. The subject of analysis can be a rare or critical event or it can focus on a typical or regular event. The purpose of studying a rare event is to illuminate new ways of thinking about the broader research problem or to test a hypothesis. Critical incident case studies must describe the method by which you identified the event and explain the process by which you determined the validity of this case to inform broader perspectives about the research problem or to reveal new findings. However, the event does not have to be a rare or uniquely significant to support new thinking about the research problem or to challenge an existing hypothesis. For example, Walo, Bull, and Breen conducted a case study to identify and evaluate the direct and indirect economic benefits and costs of a local sports event in the City of Lismore, New South Wales, Australia. The purpose of their study was to provide new insights from measuring the impact of a typical local sports event that prior studies could not measure well because they focused on large "mega-events." Whether the event is rare or not, the methods section should include an explanation of the following characteristics of the event: a) when did it take place; b) what were the underlying circumstances leading to the event; and, c) what were the consequences of the event in relation to the research problem.

If your subject of analysis is a person. Explain why you selected this particular individual to be studied and describe what experiences they have had that provide an opportunity to advance new understandings about the research problem. Mention any background about this person which might help the reader understand the significance of their experiences that make them worthy of study. This includes describing the relationships this person has had with other people, institutions, and/or events that support using them as the subject for a case study research paper. It is particularly important to differentiate the person as the subject of analysis from others and to succinctly explain how the person relates to examining the research problem [e.g., why is one politician in a particular local election used to show an increase in voter turnout from any other candidate running in the election]. Note that these issues apply to a specific group of people used as a case study unit of analysis [e.g., a classroom of students].

If your subject of analysis is a place. In general, a case study that investigates a place suggests a subject of analysis that is unique or special in some way and that this uniqueness can be used to build new understanding or knowledge about the research problem. A case study of a place must not only describe its various attributes relevant to the research problem [e.g., physical, social, historical, cultural, economic, political], but you must state the method by which you determined that this place will illuminate new understandings about the research problem. It is also important to articulate why a particular place as the case for study is being used if similar places also exist [i.e., if you are studying patterns of homeless encampments of veterans in open spaces, explain why you are studying Echo Park in Los Angeles rather than Griffith Park?]. If applicable, describe what type of human activity involving this place makes it a good choice to study [e.g., prior research suggests Echo Park has more homeless veterans].

If your subject of analysis is a phenomenon. A phenomenon refers to a fact, occurrence, or circumstance that can be studied or observed but with the cause or explanation to be in question. In this sense, a phenomenon that forms your subject of analysis can encompass anything that can be observed or presumed to exist but is not fully understood. In the social and behavioral sciences, the case usually focuses on human interaction within a complex physical, social, economic, cultural, or political system. For example, the phenomenon could be the observation that many vehicles used by ISIS fighters are small trucks with English language advertisements on them. The research problem could be that ISIS fighters are difficult to combat because they are highly mobile. The research questions could be how and by what means are these vehicles used by ISIS being supplied to the militants and how might supply lines to these vehicles be cut off? How might knowing the suppliers of these trucks reveal larger networks of collaborators and financial support? A case study of a phenomenon most often encompasses an in-depth analysis of a cause and effect that is grounded in an interactive relationship between people and their environment in some way.

NOTE:   The choice of the case or set of cases to study cannot appear random. Evidence that supports the method by which you identified and chose your subject of analysis should clearly support investigation of the research problem and linked to key findings from your literature review. Be sure to cite any studies that helped you determine that the case you chose was appropriate for examining the problem.

IV.  Discussion

The main elements of your discussion section are generally the same as any research paper, but centered around interpreting and drawing conclusions about the key findings from your analysis of the case study. Note that a general social sciences research paper may contain a separate section to report findings. However, in a paper designed around a case study, it is common to combine a description of the results with the discussion about their implications. The objectives of your discussion section should include the following:

Reiterate the Research Problem/State the Major Findings Briefly reiterate the research problem you are investigating and explain why the subject of analysis around which you designed the case study were used. You should then describe the findings revealed from your study of the case using direct, declarative, and succinct proclamation of the study results. Highlight any findings that were unexpected or especially profound.

Explain the Meaning of the Findings and Why They are Important Systematically explain the meaning of your case study findings and why you believe they are important. Begin this part of the section by repeating what you consider to be your most important or surprising finding first, then systematically review each finding. Be sure to thoroughly extrapolate what your analysis of the case can tell the reader about situations or conditions beyond the actual case that was studied while, at the same time, being careful not to misconstrue or conflate a finding that undermines the external validity of your conclusions.

Relate the Findings to Similar Studies No study in the social sciences is so novel or possesses such a restricted focus that it has absolutely no relation to previously published research. The discussion section should relate your case study results to those found in other studies, particularly if questions raised from prior studies served as the motivation for choosing your subject of analysis. This is important because comparing and contrasting the findings of other studies helps support the overall importance of your results and it highlights how and in what ways your case study design and the subject of analysis differs from prior research about the topic.

Consider Alternative Explanations of the Findings Remember that the purpose of social science research is to discover and not to prove. When writing the discussion section, you should carefully consider all possible explanations revealed by the case study results, rather than just those that fit your hypothesis or prior assumptions and biases. Be alert to what the in-depth analysis of the case may reveal about the research problem, including offering a contrarian perspective to what scholars have stated in prior research if that is how the findings can be interpreted from your case.

Acknowledge the Study's Limitations You can state the study's limitations in the conclusion section of your paper but describing the limitations of your subject of analysis in the discussion section provides an opportunity to identify the limitations and explain why they are not significant. This part of the discussion section should also note any unanswered questions or issues your case study could not address. More detailed information about how to document any limitations to your research can be found here .

Suggest Areas for Further Research Although your case study may offer important insights about the research problem, there are likely additional questions related to the problem that remain unanswered or findings that unexpectedly revealed themselves as a result of your in-depth analysis of the case. Be sure that the recommendations for further research are linked to the research problem and that you explain why your recommendations are valid in other contexts and based on the original assumptions of your study.

V.  Conclusion

As with any research paper, you should summarize your conclusion in clear, simple language; emphasize how the findings from your case study differs from or supports prior research and why. Do not simply reiterate the discussion section. Provide a synthesis of key findings presented in the paper to show how these converge to address the research problem. If you haven't already done so in the discussion section, be sure to document the limitations of your case study and any need for further research.

The function of your paper's conclusion is to: 1) reiterate the main argument supported by the findings from your case study; 2) state clearly the context, background, and necessity of pursuing the research problem using a case study design in relation to an issue, controversy, or a gap found from reviewing the literature; and, 3) provide a place to persuasively and succinctly restate the significance of your research problem, given that the reader has now been presented with in-depth information about the topic.

Consider the following points to help ensure your conclusion is appropriate:

  • If the argument or purpose of your paper is complex, you may need to summarize these points for your reader.
  • If prior to your conclusion, you have not yet explained the significance of your findings or if you are proceeding inductively, use the conclusion of your paper to describe your main points and explain their significance.
  • Move from a detailed to a general level of consideration of the case study's findings that returns the topic to the context provided by the introduction or within a new context that emerges from your case study findings.

Note that, depending on the discipline you are writing in or the preferences of your professor, the concluding paragraph may contain your final reflections on the evidence presented as it applies to practice or on the essay's central research problem. However, the nature of being introspective about the subject of analysis you have investigated will depend on whether you are explicitly asked to express your observations in this way.

Problems to Avoid

Overgeneralization One of the goals of a case study is to lay a foundation for understanding broader trends and issues applied to similar circumstances. However, be careful when drawing conclusions from your case study. They must be evidence-based and grounded in the results of the study; otherwise, it is merely speculation. Looking at a prior example, it would be incorrect to state that a factor in improving girls access to education in Azerbaijan and the policy implications this may have for improving access in other Muslim nations is due to girls access to social media if there is no documentary evidence from your case study to indicate this. There may be anecdotal evidence that retention rates were better for girls who were engaged with social media, but this observation would only point to the need for further research and would not be a definitive finding if this was not a part of your original research agenda.

Failure to Document Limitations No case is going to reveal all that needs to be understood about a research problem. Therefore, just as you have to clearly state the limitations of a general research study , you must describe the specific limitations inherent in the subject of analysis. For example, the case of studying how women conceptualize the need for water conservation in a village in Uganda could have limited application in other cultural contexts or in areas where fresh water from rivers or lakes is plentiful and, therefore, conservation is understood more in terms of managing access rather than preserving access to a scarce resource.

Failure to Extrapolate All Possible Implications Just as you don't want to over-generalize from your case study findings, you also have to be thorough in the consideration of all possible outcomes or recommendations derived from your findings. If you do not, your reader may question the validity of your analysis, particularly if you failed to document an obvious outcome from your case study research. For example, in the case of studying the accident at the railroad crossing to evaluate where and what types of warning signals should be located, you failed to take into consideration speed limit signage as well as warning signals. When designing your case study, be sure you have thoroughly addressed all aspects of the problem and do not leave gaps in your analysis that leave the reader questioning the results.

Case Studies. Writing@CSU. Colorado State University; Gerring, John. Case Study Research: Principles and Practices . New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007; Merriam, Sharan B. Qualitative Research and Case Study Applications in Education . Rev. ed. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 1998; Miller, Lisa L. “The Use of Case Studies in Law and Social Science Research.” Annual Review of Law and Social Science 14 (2018): TBD; Mills, Albert J., Gabrielle Durepos, and Eiden Wiebe, editors. Encyclopedia of Case Study Research . Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2010; Putney, LeAnn Grogan. "Case Study." In Encyclopedia of Research Design , Neil J. Salkind, editor. (Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2010), pp. 116-120; Simons, Helen. Case Study Research in Practice . London: SAGE Publications, 2009;  Kratochwill,  Thomas R. and Joel R. Levin, editors. Single-Case Research Design and Analysis: New Development for Psychology and Education .  Hilldsale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1992; Swanborn, Peter G. Case Study Research: What, Why and How? London : SAGE, 2010; Yin, Robert K. Case Study Research: Design and Methods . 6th edition. Los Angeles, CA, SAGE Publications, 2014; Walo, Maree, Adrian Bull, and Helen Breen. “Achieving Economic Benefits at Local Events: A Case Study of a Local Sports Event.” Festival Management and Event Tourism 4 (1996): 95-106.

Writing Tip

At Least Five Misconceptions about Case Study Research

Social science case studies are often perceived as limited in their ability to create new knowledge because they are not randomly selected and findings cannot be generalized to larger populations. Flyvbjerg examines five misunderstandings about case study research and systematically "corrects" each one. To quote, these are:

Misunderstanding 1 :  General, theoretical [context-independent] knowledge is more valuable than concrete, practical [context-dependent] knowledge. Misunderstanding 2 :  One cannot generalize on the basis of an individual case; therefore, the case study cannot contribute to scientific development. Misunderstanding 3 :  The case study is most useful for generating hypotheses; that is, in the first stage of a total research process, whereas other methods are more suitable for hypotheses testing and theory building. Misunderstanding 4 :  The case study contains a bias toward verification, that is, a tendency to confirm the researcher’s preconceived notions. Misunderstanding 5 :  It is often difficult to summarize and develop general propositions and theories on the basis of specific case studies [p. 221].

While writing your paper, think introspectively about how you addressed these misconceptions because to do so can help you strengthen the validity and reliability of your research by clarifying issues of case selection, the testing and challenging of existing assumptions, the interpretation of key findings, and the summation of case outcomes. Think of a case study research paper as a complete, in-depth narrative about the specific properties and key characteristics of your subject of analysis applied to the research problem.

Flyvbjerg, Bent. “Five Misunderstandings About Case-Study Research.” Qualitative Inquiry 12 (April 2006): 219-245.

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How to write a problem statement

how to make problem statement in case study

What is a problem statement?

Why write a problem statement, when are problem statements commonly written, how do i write a problem statement, the format of a problem statement, the trademarks of a good problem statement, an example of a problem statement, frequently asked questions about problem statements, related articles.

A problem statement is a clear and concise description of the problem or issue a team aims to address in a project.

A problem statement identifies a problem’s current state, desired future state, and the gaps that lie between the two. It doesn't define the solution to the problem or provide a road map for solving the problem; it only gives an outline of what the problem is.

However, the researcher or team can later use the problem statement to validate that their work delivered an outcome that resulted in the solution.

A problem statement is a useful communication tool, as it keeps the whole team on track and tells them why the project is important. A problem statement helps someone to define and understand the problem, identify the goals of the project, and outline the scope of work.

A problem statement is especially relevant for projects that aim to improve processes, as it allows for the easier development of solutions. Referencing it helps guide the activities carried out and aids the research team in staying focused. The information in a problem statement also helps a team make important decisions.

When the desired solution is implemented later on, a problem statement can help make sure that steps are put into place to prevent the original problem from recurring in the future.

Problem statements are used in both academic and business contexts. In a business environment, project managers can use them to help execute process improvement projects.

But in an academic setting, they can help researchers to contextualize and understand the significance of the problem in a research project. This guide focuses on academic problem statements.

Before planning or writing out your academic problem statement, ask yourself some important questions, and make notes with your answers:

  • What is the problem?
  • How often does the problem occur?
  • Where does the problem occur?
  • When does the problem occur?
  • Who does the problem impact?
  • What causes the problem?
  • How would things ideally work if the problem wasn't present?
  • Why is this a problem, and why does it matter?
  • What impact does the problem cause?
  • Which possible solution/s to the problem are you going to propose?
  • What are the predicted benefits or outcomes of your solutions?

When you write your problem statement, split it into four sections:

  • Problem: Here, simply define what your problem is, clearly and concisely. Make it no longer than one or two sentences.
  • Background: This is the section where you can describe what causes the problem, how often it occurs, where and when it occurs, and who the problem impacts.
  • Relevance: You'll want to show how the problem is relevant, as well as why it matters and requires a solution. This is a great space to specify why it's a problem and what impacts it causes. If it fits comfortably, you can also articulate how things would ideally work if the problem wasn't present.
  • Objectives: This section doesn't require great detail or length, as the problem statement isn't the area of your research project in which to specifically problem-solve. However, you should lay out a brief plan of what you're going to do to investigate and how that should help you formulate solutions. You can also hypothesize on possible solutions you're going to propose, and the benefits you predict from these.

A quality problem statement should be:

  • Concise: You should be able to summarize your problem, as well as the different elements of how and why it's a problem, in succinct sentences. If you can't, revisit your initial notes and clarify what you want to achieve with your project.
  • Specific: Only write about one issue in a problem statement, even if there's more than one impact of that issue. Your research and actions then only have to focus on solving the one problem, and there's no confusion.
  • Measurable: Be clear about how you're able to measure and convey both the problem and your proposed objectives. This is usually by communicating the problem in terms of degree and frequency.

Below is an academic problem statement example. You don't need to include any headers in your real problem statement, but we'll do so here to show you how the sections of the document function in practice.

There is worryingly low uptake of free cervical cancer screening in the UK amongst women aged 25 to 35.

According to an assessment conducted by X Health Trust, only 60% of 25- to 35-year-old female patients attended cervical cancer screening appointments within the last two years.

This could be due to several contributing factors:

  • Female patients in this age group may be more likely to believe they are not susceptible to cervical cancer due to their younger age.
  • There has been an absence of regular and informative public health announcements on this subject within the last seven years.
  • Cervical cancer screening has a reputation for being an unpleasant experience, which could be off-putting for patients due to attend one.

Cervical cancer is the 14th most common cancer in females in the UK, representing a notable health risk. As of 2017, there were around 3,200 new cervical cancer cases, with 850 consequent deaths, in the UK every year.

Although mortality rates in the UK for cervical cancer are highest in females aged 85 to 89, incidence rates for the disease are still highest in females aged 30 to 34.

When cervical cancer is diagnosed at its earliest stage, 96% of people diagnosed will survive their disease for one year or more. This is compared with only 50% of people when the disease is diagnosed at the latest stage.

Screening is a vital health service as many cervical cancer patients will be symptomless until they are in a later stage of the disease.

We are going to conduct a survey of 10,000 females in the UK between the ages of 25 and 35. We will first ask them the question of whether they have attended a cervical screening appointment in the last five years. For those who answer “no,” we will then present them with multiple-choice options that answer the question, “why not?”

From the results we gather, we should be able to accurately assess the most common reasons why there is a low uptake in cervical cancer screening in this age group. We will then propose interventions to the medical community based on our findings.

Our ultimate goal is to increase the uptake of cervical cancer screening by females between 25 and 35 in the UK over the next five years.

🔲 Background

🔲 Relevance

🔲 Objectives

A problem statement helps you define and understand a problem, identify the goals of your project, and outline the scope of your work. A problem statement is especially important for projects that aim to improve processes, as it allows for the easier development of solutions.

A good problem statement is concise, specific and measurable. It summarizes the different elements of how and why it's a problem. It focusses on solving this one problem, and there is no confusion as to what the problem is and how it is solved. It is clear how the problem can be solved and how this can be measured.

To start a problem statement, first ask yourself some important questions to define the problem, like:

  • Which possible solutions to the problem are you going to propose?

When you write your problem statement, split it into these sections:

A smart problem statement is concise, specific and measurable. It should briefly describe the problem, where it is occurring, the timeframe over which it has been occurring, and the size and magnitude of the problem.

How to write a grant proposal

How to Write Problem Statements You’ll Actually Use

A team engaged in a meeting

You have your project brief in hand, you’ve met with your client, maybe you’ve even held a productive discovery session with them. You understand what needs to be done and are eager to start ideating toward a solution.

But what about the problem statement?

This may be the last thing your team wants to do. Some may even think writing out a problem statement is old fashioned. And who even uses them anymore?

We’re here to change your mind. 

A well-written problem statement is how today’s most successful teams bring clarity and focus to the problems they face. Learning how to write a good one is a not-so-secret tool for coming up with more effective solutions.

What is a problem statement?

A problem statement is a clear, concise explanation of the problem or challenge you intend to solve. It is meant to give you, your team, and any other stakeholders clarity and focus around the problem. This not only helps you get buy-in from your client, but also makes it easier to prioritize what’s most important — and not get distracted by anything else.

You should write out your problem statement after you’ve done some initial research but before you have begun your work. This will give you the necessary context to create as accurate a statement as possible, while also helping guide your team as you move forward. 

You can either create it as a solo activity or as part of a larger workshop, depending on your circumstances. If you’ve already planned a discovery session, writing a problem statement could be a great way to cap off the meeting and ensure everyone is aligned.

What makes a good problem statement

First and foremost, a good problem statement is anything that helps spur you and your team into action by describing and clarifying the issues at hand.

While this can take many forms — and is often dependent on factors such as the scope and complexity of the problem — the most effective statements typically focus on the root cause of the issue by objectively describing it in as comprehensive a way as possible. The five Ws can be a good strategy for doing this: 

  • Who is having the problem? This could refer to individuals, groups, or entire organizations. It is anyone (or anything) that is affected by the problem.
  • What is the problem? This can be thought of as the gap that has formed between the current state and the desired state. Try to sketch out the boundaries of this gap and describe the unmet need that exists.
  • Where does this problem occur? This could be a geographic location (such as a city or company), a physical object (such as a product), an entity (such as a marketing department), or even a process (such as commuting).
  • When does this problem occur? Is there a certain timeframe in which the issue occurs? Is there a deadline by which it needs to be solved? 
  • Why is the problem worth solving? This should focus on the importance of fixing the problem. What kind of impact will it make? How will solving it affect customers, employees, and other stakeholders ? In short, what makes a solution worthwhile?

Effective problem statement examples

Good problem statements don’t need to be complicated. In fact, as these examples show, they should be simple and direct. In one sentence, they describe exactly what the problem is, leaving little to no ambiguity about what should happen next.

Note: While some may recommend including a proposed solution in the problem statement, we think it’s best to leave this out. After all, the goal is to get people thinking creatively about their own solutions.

Problem statement example #1

“The lack of access to clean water in rural areas of developing countries is leading to increased incidence of water-borne diseases and impeding socio-economic development.”

This statement clearly identifies a specific problem — the lack of access to clean water — and highlights the negative consequences that result from it: an increase in diseases and a lack of socio-economic development. By focusing on the problem in this way, it provides a clear and concise foundation for any potential solutions. Additionally, the statement highlights the urgency of the issue and the need for action, making it more likely to inspire action and generate interest from stakeholders.

Problem statement example #2

“An employee turnover of 35% in company X is negatively impacting productivity, morale, and profitability.”

Notice how this statement identifies who the problem affects (company X and its employees), what is happening (a high turnover rate), and why it is important (productivity, morale, and profitability). This creates a clear place to focus action and start coming up with possible solutions. What’s more, by calling out the current state of turnovers (35%), it gives a specific metric to improve.

How to write effective problem statements

Writing a great problem statement should be thought of as less of an action and more of a process. You don’t just sit down and write one out (at least, most of us don’t). Instead, you should carefully seek to understand and frame every aspect of the problem at hand in order to capture it as clearly as possible.

Here is a step-by-step methodology you can follow in order to do this.

1. Identify and understand the problem

This can be thought of as the data-gathering stage. It’s when you get out into the field, interview stakeholders, and spend time in the environment where the problem exists so that you can experience it first-hand. Basically, you should be doing whatever it takes to gain as thorough an understanding of the problem as you can so that you can not only identify it , but describe its root causes.

2. Draft the problem statement

Now it’s time to start writing out a statement that is as clear and comprehensive as possible. As you do this, be aware of how you are framing the problem. You want to be careful to avoid any bias and to remain completely objective. Potential issues to look out for include:

  • Describing a symptom instead of the root cause. If this happens, go back to your notes to try to uncover why something is happening, not what.
  • Presenting a preferred solution. It can often be tempting to write a problem statement in such a way that only one solution is possible. Fix this by looking for ways you can broaden the focus.
  • A lack of clarity. This can be caused by trying to capture too many problems at once, or not clearly framing the gap between how the current and desired states. 

3. Refine and iterate

Once you think you’ve captured the problem, don’t stop there. Continue to refine it by analyzing it from multiple perspectives. Would someone not familiar with the stakeholders and their background be able to understand the problem? Would someone from a different field altogether be able to identify the root cause? 

If you haven’t already, this can be a good opportunity to open up the problem statement to other members of your team to get their point of view. Ask them if it matches their understanding of the problem. Try to identify any potential ambiguities. When you’ve reached a point at which the problem lacks an obvious solution and is generating healthy discussion, you’re probably there. 

Templates to help you create actionable problem statements

When drafting your problem statement, there’s no reason to start from a completely blank slate. The following templates can help kickstart the process of drilling down into the root causes, framing the issue, and defining exactly what the problem is:

  • 5 Whys Template
  • Problem Framing Template
  • Problem Statement Template

Define, understand, and solve problems faster

The art of writing problem statements shouldn’t be lost on your team. Learning to create effective statements enables you to get a better understanding of what has caused the problem, who and what the problem impacts, and why it should be solved in the first place. Knowing how to state this in language that is clear, concise, and impactful is one of the best ways to set you and your team up for success.

How have problem statements helped you come up with creative solutions? We’d love to hear how you’ve put them to use — and how you keep using them today.

Learn more about facilitation and how you can succeed at it wherever you are by downloading our Definitive Guide to Facilitating Remote Workshops .

About the authors

David Young

David Young

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Sales Skills

How to build a compelling problem statement (+case study).

how to make problem statement in case study

Your pipeline’s ‘Closed Lost’ column is filled with prospects who expressed the exact same pain points as your customers.

Both of these groups started from the same place — a list of pains that align with your product. But they ended their buying journey in two different places.

So what gives? How does a picture-perfect deal, with a prospect whose problems are a match for your product, fall through?

Nobody cared (enough).

Really. Sometimes, a competitor steals the deal. Others times, a budget gets re-allocated. But more often than not, your deal just slipped down the priority list. Your champion couldn’t get their team interested. The decider didn’t take the time to take a look.

That’s because your champion didn’t tell a compelling story that cut through the clutter .

Some champions are natural storytellers. They hit all the high notes. They know how to make their team lean in a little closer. But other buyers need your help.

They need a specific, compelling problem statement that grabs and holds attention.

Here’s how to create one.

The Formula for Compelling Problem Statements

First, I’ll give you the formula. Then, we’ll break down each of its parts.

Costs ‍ Every [Frequency], at least [Reach] are [Pain], costing us [Impact].
Consequences ‍ That means [Implication #2]. If that’s not addressed by [Timeline], then [Implication #3].

Part 1: Focus on Costs

We all feel more upset if we lose $10, than we feel happy if we find $10.

That’s the basic idea of “Loss Aversion.” We feel a greater pressure to avoid losses than we do to acquire the equivalent gain. It’s also why you should build your problem statement around losses.

Highlight active or immanent losses first, before calling out new opportunities.

how to make problem statement in case study

To make the loss compelling, be specific. And to be specific, quantify the impact of your buyer’s problem whenever possible. A simple way to estimate the impact is: ‍

how to make problem statement in case study

Don’t give your best guess. Ask your buyer what their guess is. Then, write it down with them. Here are a few examples, with some made up numbers:

how to make problem statement in case study

Once you’ve quantified the problem, don’t assume the loss is meaningful .

For example, if you’re selling to the enterprise, beware of The Law of Large Numbers. Pointing out a $1M loss is pointing out 0.0001% in a business that does $10B in annual revenue.

Instead, ask questions like:

  • How does this estimate of [X] compare to what you expected to see?
  • How do you think [decision maker] would react to seeing this number?
  • Are there other problems your team’s facing that are more pressing than this?

Part 2: Highlight Consequences

You’d be surprised what overwhelm and burnout can force us to live with. We grow numb to our problems, and apathy becomes a perfectly acceptable solution.

But often, that’s because we can’t see the full consequences of our inaction. So once you’ve quantified the loss (above), press into its implications. There are three levels of consequences you’ll want to speak to:

  • Functional Problems: “It takes a long time to build customer surveys and analyze the data.”
  • Strategic Problems: “We’re not sure which customers are a churn risk before their renewal date.”
  • Personal Problems: “Me, or someone on my team, may lose our job if renewal revenue declines.”

Now, nobody likes talking consequences. So generally, it’s best to lead your buyers to them with questions — not statements. Questions that start by asking:

  • What happens if...
  • What does this mean for...
  • How will that affect...

Bringing It All Together

If your head is spinning with “math” right now, your buyer’s will be too.

While you’ll quickly become fluent in problem statements using this framework, your champion will need some help. So from here, make sure to:

  • Put their story to the test. After you’ve drawn out all the component parts with your champion, ask them to play back the story. Is it compelling? Is their delivery confident?
  • Write it out for them. Give them something to refer back to during a conversation, and to send around to their team afterwards.
  • Develop a problem statement process. Getting the data you need to turn a minor-annoyance into a can’t-ignore mega issue may require some creativity. Here’s a case study on that, below. ‍

[Case Study] “My board definitely needs to see this.”

The breakthrough that let one my past sales teams cross the chasm from $500K, to $5M, in ARR was the process for enabling our champions with a can’t-ignore problem statement.

Here’s the full story.

Creating Context

We sold marketing and fundraising software to nonprofits. CRM, landing pages, payments, email, text, video, all-in-one. For context, our market was the 1.2M nonprofits raising close to $500 B every year.

A portion of this funding comes from foundations. Foundations are organizations that exist to give out large chunks of money to nonprofits called “grants.” These grants are great when you get them, but they’re not sustainable.

For example, a $500K grant needs to be replaced with a wider group of individual donors before it’s fully spent. Otherwise, the nonprofit can’t keep funding their programs and payroll.

When nonprofits don’t raise money from individuals, that’s a problem. Think of it like investing in a startup. If the startup doesn’t find customers to generate cash — aside from raising more venture funding — the investment was for nothing. There’s no revenue to keep the show going.

Collecting the Right Data

I had created a champion out of the Head of Grantmaking at one of the nation’s largest family foundations. They grant out more than $50M to nonprofits every year, and she saw the problem we were solving.

She knew our software could help her nonprofits raise more funding, but buying software for 20 nonprofits would be a significant, six-figure deal — which needed board approval. What’s more, her board had never funded a for-profit company’s software before. Generally, nonprofits are skeptical of for-profits, regardless of their social good.

We were rolling a boulder uphill, and needed a compelling story. We were chatting one day when I said, “This may be crazy. But what if we asked all your nonprofits for their fundraising data, to show your board?”

She was up to give it a shot. So next, I:

  • Wrote a three-part email campaign requesting her nonprofits help her out with a survey.
  • Signed up for Typeform and built out a simple survey to collect fundraising data.
  • Opened up a free Mailchimp account and built out the survey campaign.
  • Recorded a Loom video that showed my champion how to upload a list of emails and hit “send.”
  • Downloaded all the survey responses a week later and crunched the data in Excel.
  • Put together a short, 2-page report for the next board meeting packet.

Crafting the Problem Statement

That report shared this statement: ‍

Every year, at least 200 of the Foundation’s nonprofits raise less than 20% of their annual budget from individual donors, which is costing the Foundation more than $10M in follow-on funding to keep them operational. This means the programs we support are at risk of closing, if we don’t continue to fund them. If that’s not addressed inside this fiscal year, we’ll be unable to allocate this funding to new initiatives outlined in the strategic plan we’re voting on today.

When my champion saw this, she immediately said, “ My board needs to see this .”

Here’s the end of the story.

This paragraph — not a case study, deck, or demo — helped my champion closed the deal.

That deal not only pushed us over quota for the month, it opened up a whole new market segment. We could now point to their foundation, and the 20 nonprofits they brought with them, as one of our customers. That gave us credibility to start engaging with other foundations.

In fact, we hired on a new FTE for our sales enablement team, who built out and perfected that survey process. It became a “free assessment” we gave to every champion in our pipeline.

Nate Nasralla

Nate is the CEO & Co-Founder of Fluint, the Buyer Enablement platform built for high-velocity sales teams. He's a 3X sales leader, 2x founder, and loves his wife, daughter, dark chocolate, and the Rocky Mountains.

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how to make problem statement in case study

How to Write an Effective Problem Statement

Published: April 9, 2018 by Rod Morgan

how to make problem statement in case study

Continuous improvement specialists are challenged to solve problems for their organizations or clients. They have acquired a wide array of tools, methods and techniques for that purpose.

If continuous improvement practitioners are able to establish the winning conditions for change, they can look forward to successful outcomes. However, the devil is in the details, making continuous improvement jobs interesting and challenging.

One of those “little devils” that often gets overlooked is the need to construct an effective problem statement at the start of any improvement project.

What Is a Problem Statement?

Adapted from an article by Alan Bryman in the International Journal of Social Research Methodology : A problem is a statement about an area of concern, a condition to be improved upon, a difficulty to be eliminated, or a troubling question that exists in theory or in practice that points to the need for meaningful understanding and deliberate investigation.

Why Is It So Hard to Write an Effective Problem Statement?

One of the challenges in writing a great problem statement is the distractions that can come from a variety of sources.

  • Symptoms associated with the problem add to the confusion when trying to describe a problem. For example, arriving at the physician’s office and stating, “Doctor, I am experiencing pain in the back of my thigh down to the lower part of my leg! I need you to ‘fix’ my leg!” It is only after a thoughtful evaluation that the doctor concludes that your problem lies with your sciatic nerve and originates in your lower back.
  • Solutions are often an early consideration when wrestling with a problem. When one is faced with a problem, alleviating that pain as quickly as possible is a natural, almost reflexive, action. It is, however, extremely important to avoid jumping to solutions until a profound understanding of the current state is achieved.
  • The search for causes of your pain is a natural reaction that also needs to be avoided when first describing a problem. Establishing root cause will be a part of the ensuing investigative procedure but should be reserved for the appropriate time in the lifecycle of the problem-solving method.
  • Blame is also a natural reflex when one is afflicted with a problem. A quote attributed to John Burroughs, American naturalist and nature essayist, may be all that needs to be said on this subject: “You can get discouraged many times, but you are not a failure until you begin to blame somebody else and stop trying.”

In short, a great problem statement must be free of causes, solutions and blame, and careful consideration must be given to ensure symptoms do not become a distraction.

What Is in a Problem Statement?

A problem statement should describe an undesirable gap between the current-state level of performance and the desired future-state level of performance. A problem statement should include absolute or relative measures of the problem that quantify that gap, but should not include possible causes or solutions!

how to make problem statement in case study

Key elements of an effective problem statement include:

  • Gap : Identify the gap (pain) that exists today.
  • Timeframe, location and trend : Describe when and where the problem was first observed and what kind of trend it is following.
  • Impact : Quantify the gap (cost, time, quality, environmental, personal, etc.)
  • Importance : To the organization, the individual, etc. to better understand the urgency.

What Method Can I Employ to Author a Great Problem Statement?

The ability to articulate an effective problem statement is not simply a business skill – it is a life skill. How can children, youth and adults begin to solve problems if they haven’t been able to adequately describe them? This holds true for continuous improvement specialists.

The 5W2H (what, when, where, why, who, how, how much) method is deceptively simple. Ask the right questions in the right order and let the answers lead you to a great problem statement.

Example of Developing a Problem Statement

Let’s walk through the 5W2H method for manufacturing and call center examples.

Question 1 : What is the problem that needs to be solved?

  • Manufacturer : Window frames and parts are ending up in the assembly department missing required weep holes or slots.
  • Call center : The assessment call is too complex, time consuming and administratively heavy, resulting in a diminished experience for the client as well as the staff member performing the work.

Question 2 : Why is it a problem? (highlight the pain)

  • Manufacturer : If identified (visual inspection), the affected parts must be sent back for rework, thereby increasing the overall cost of manufacturing, creating higher inventory levels (WIP) and increasing risk since some of the defects may not be detected until later in the process, or worse, they may end up being incorrectly shipped to the job sites.
  • Call center : This results in higher variability and length of call handling time, clients having to repeat their “story” as the move through the assessment and downstream case worker (meeting) process, clients providing more information than may be required, increased workload for the assessment worker and increased wait times in the (telephone) queue. The overall impact is reduced service levels as well as diminished client and assessment worker experience.

Question 3 : Where is the problem observed? (location, products)

  • Manufacturer : This problem is observed in the assembly department, downstream departments as well as ultimately in the field with customer complaints and costly field repairs and replacements.
  • Call center : This problem is observed in all assessment calls but will vary in magnitude depending on the client (needs and circumstance), assessment worker (experience) and other factors that contribute to variation in the handling of assessment calls.

Question 4 : Who is impacted? (customers, businesses, departments)

  • Manufacturer : This problem affects the assembly department that is tasked with trying to inspect for the error and react accordingly, rework occurring in the department/work cell responsible for weep holes and slots, the company as a whole in terms of cost, brand and reputation, and, most importantly, the customer who is affected by this problem if it makes it to the field.
  • Call center : This affects the client associated with the call, clients waiting in the queue, client’s families, and the organization and employers in the community being served.

Question 5 : When was the problem first observed?

  • Manufacturer : This has been an ongoing issue going back as far as memory serves in the long-term employees, but with increased volume and more customization and higher complexity in design, the impact and severity of this problem has increased rapidly over the last two years.
  • Call center : This is a latent problem that has always existed but has become more evident with recent changes, including changes in funding, legislation, demand for services, client demographics and recent integration efforts in the organization as part of their ongoing commitment to continuous improvement of service pathways and client experience.

Question 6 : How is the problem observed? (symptoms)

  • Manufacturer : Customer (in-field installation and service) complaints, increased warranty costs, manufacturing non-conformance reports (NCR), complaints from assembly department team and increased costs in fabrication.
  • Call center : This problem is observed in the variation in call-handling times, wait times in the telephone queue, call abandon rates, increased stress in front-line staff (workload and client anxiety/dissatisfaction) and ambiguity in call handling protocols.

Question 7 : How often is the problem observed? (error rate, magnitude, trend)

  • Manufacturer : There is an observed 62,000 parts per million (PPM) for this specific defect, taking into consideration rework completed in-house and observed defects in the field. The PPM is derived from the number of weeping holes and slots required per unit assembly versus the actual number of deficiencies overall observed for the same number of units.
  • Call center : This is a daily operational occurrence but increases in call complexity related to changes in the knowledge base – multiple programs and changes in the environment (client demographics and needs/circumstances, legislation, etc.) – have resulted in an increase in severity and stress on the system.

Think of a problem you have encountered in your personal or professional life, or a problem you are currently tasked to solve. Employ the preceding method of asking seven simple questions and see where it takes you.

Teach this simple and effective method to your friends, colleagues and family. Writing problem statements truly is a life skill and, when employed correctly, will place anyone in good stead to start solving the problem.

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Problem statements in ux discovery.

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August 22, 2021 2021-08-22

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Running discoveries can be challenging. Many teams start discovery research with little direction as to what problem they want to solve. When this happens, discoveries meander and result in dwindling team and stakeholder morale. Worse still, some discoveries begin with investigating solutions, rather than the problems those solutions are intended to solve. (Remember: if you’re investigating only solutions in a discovery, you’re not doing a true discovery! )

To avoid these issues, spend time upfront to identify and frame the problem . If you don’t know the problem, you’re not going to have much luck solving it! The better a problem is articulated, the easier and more effectively it can be solved. One device that help teams to frame a problem is a problem statement.

In This Article:

What’s a problem statement, how to write a problem statement, problem statements don’t need to be negative, how to use problem statements.

Problem statement: A concise description of the problem that needs to be solved.

It’s a helpful scoping device, focusing the team on the problem it needs to explore and subsequently solve. A problem statement makes clear what needs to be done in discovery and what’s out of scope. Problem statements are also great communication tools; well-written ones can be used to gain buy-in from stakeholders on why it’s important to explore and solve the problem.

Here are some examples of problem statements.

  • Users of our newspaper app often export content from our app, rather than sharing content through our app. This is a problem because target audiences are less likely to know that the content came from our app, leading to lower conversion rates. This is also a problem for app users, as exporting content is time-consuming and could lead to a decrease in app usage.
  • Sales reps spend a long time planning which leads to visit each month. Because planning is done manually — using Excel spreadsheets and printed paper lists — sales reps find it difficult to meet their targets. Many have complained that keeping track of which leads to visit takes away from the time they can spend with them. This is a problem because, when targets are not met, the business risks losing revenue.
  • Each year, many applicants call the contact center seeking an update on their application. Applicants often spend a long time waiting to speak to an agent. Because contact-center staff members lack access to case information, they are unable to answer queries from applicants. This situation causes frustration for both applicants and customer-contact staff and represents an avoidable cost to the department.

It's a good idea to write a problem statement as early as possible in your discovery, as it can help set discovery goals and objectives. Many teams will compose their problem statement in a discovery kick-off workshop.

A problem statement should include:

  • The background of a problem. Which organization or department has the problem and what is the problem? Why has the problem arisen? Note that in some cases you may not know the exact causes of the problem. This is what discoveries are for: to uncover root causes. (In this case, you may add this aspect once you’ve done your research)
  • The people affected by the problem. There could be multiple user groups affected by a specific problem in different ways. In the problem statement, you should call out how the problem affects users. In some cases, internal employees (particularly customer-support staff) can be affected by a problem, as they often bear the brunt of poor user experiences –- for example, by handling disgruntled customers.
  • The impact of the problem on the organization. If the problem is not fixed, what will be the effect on the organization? Reputational damage? Paying unavoidable costs? Losing out-of-market share? In some cases, you may want to quantify the impact in order to convince your organization to fix the problem. Your discovery could involve working out how much this problem costs the organization, and this information could end up in your problem statement.

To gather the relevant facts for your problem statement, you can use a simple technique called the 5 Ws , which involves answering the questions below. This activity can be included in a discovery kick - off workshop with your team and stakeholders.

  • Who is affected by the problem?
  • What is the problem?
  • Where does this problem occur?
  • When does the problem occur?
  • Why does the problem occur? Why is the problem important?

If you don’t have all the answers to the above, don’t panic! While you should know what the problem is, you may not know exactly why it came about. This is what your discovery should tackle. Throughout the discovery process, you can return to your problem statement and add to it.

It’s important that problem statements are written well to serve their purpose. A problem statement should :

  • Not be a laundry list of unrelated problems . A discovery effort should have one problem statement, and the problem statement should be focused on one problem. Of course, a single problem could cause further problems, and those related problems can be added to your problem statement. But listing many unrelated problems is a sign that you’re tackling too much.
  • Not contain a solution . Leave solutions out of your problem statement. At the beginning of discovery, there are too many unknowns, so the the best solution is not obvious. At the end of your discovery, you’ll be in a good position to confidently put forward solution ideas that address the problem and take into account what you’ve learned.
  • Be brief . Problem statements are effective when they’re concise. If you can condense your problem statement down to a few sentences, others will quickly understand what you focus on and why, and what’s out of scope. Spend some time to draft and redraft the problem statement with your team.

The examples I’ve given so far are negative — talking about something that needs fixing. However, problem statements can also capture opportunities (in which case they are sometimes referred to as opportunity statements instead of problem statements, although they are written and used in the same way).

Here’s an example of a problem statement that highlights an opportunity, rather than a problem that needs to be fixed:

The process of purchasing a newly built home can take a long time and requires many offline activities. This means sales often take a long time to close. There’s an opportunity to make home buying quicker and easier, and thus improve customer-satisfaction ratings and sales.

In an opportunity statement, we need to highlight the gap between where we are now (the present state) and where we want to be in the future (the desired state). A good question to ask to highlight this gap is: What do we want to achieve?

Your problem statement can be used as the starting point for structuring your discovery work. For example, if the problem statement was about improving the home-buying process, the goal for the discovery should be to learn about opportunities to make home buying quicker and easier. Once we have a discovery goal, it becomes easier to know what unknowns need research. For example, in this case, we probably want to know things like:

  • Which activities do homebuyers perceive as difficult or time-consuming?
  • Which activities or use cases can slow down the home-buying process and why?
  • What does the end-to-end journey currently look like?

As you begin discovery, you can return to your problem statement and refine it — particularly if you’ve learned root causes or how much a problem costs your organization. Another reason to update your problem statement is if the discovery changes direction — which can happen when new areas of interest are highlighted through exploratory research. Finally, at the end of the discovery process, the problem statement can be communicated alongside your findings and recommendations to provide the full narrative of the discovery process.

A problem statement is a concise description of the problem to be solved. Writing problem statements at the beginning of the discovery process can create alignment and buy-in around the problem to be solved and provide direction in subsequent discovery activities. To construct problem statements, focus on who the problem affects, how it does so, and why it’s important to solve the problem.

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how to make problem statement in case study

All You Wanted to Know About How to Write a Case Study

how to make problem statement in case study

What do you study in your college? If you are a psychology, sociology, or anthropology student, we bet you might be familiar with what a case study is. This research method is used to study a certain person, group, or situation. In this guide from our dissertation writing service , you will learn how to write a case study professionally, from researching to citing sources properly. Also, we will explore different types of case studies and show you examples — so that you won’t have any other questions left.

What Is a Case Study?

A case study is a subcategory of research design which investigates problems and offers solutions. Case studies can range from academic research studies to corporate promotional tools trying to sell an idea—their scope is quite vast.

What Is the Difference Between a Research Paper and a Case Study?

While research papers turn the reader’s attention to a certain problem, case studies go even further. Case study guidelines require students to pay attention to details, examining issues closely and in-depth using different research methods. For example, case studies may be used to examine court cases if you study Law, or a patient's health history if you study Medicine. Case studies are also used in Marketing, which are thorough, empirically supported analysis of a good or service's performance. Well-designed case studies can be valuable for prospective customers as they can identify and solve the potential customers pain point.

Case studies involve a lot of storytelling – they usually examine particular cases for a person or a group of people. This method of research is very helpful, as it is very practical and can give a lot of hands-on information. Most commonly, the length of the case study is about 500-900 words, which is much less than the length of an average research paper.

The structure of a case study is very similar to storytelling. It has a protagonist or main character, which in your case is actually a problem you are trying to solve. You can use the system of 3 Acts to make it a compelling story. It should have an introduction, rising action, a climax where transformation occurs, falling action, and a solution.

Here is a rough formula for you to use in your case study:

Problem (Act I): > Solution (Act II) > Result (Act III) > Conclusion.

Types of Case Studies

The purpose of a case study is to provide detailed reports on an event, an institution, a place, future customers, or pretty much anything. There are a few common types of case study, but the type depends on the topic. The following are the most common domains where case studies are needed:

Types of Case Studies

  • Historical case studies are great to learn from. Historical events have a multitude of source info offering different perspectives. There are always modern parallels where these perspectives can be applied, compared, and thoroughly analyzed.
  • Problem-oriented case studies are usually used for solving problems. These are often assigned as theoretical situations where you need to immerse yourself in the situation to examine it. Imagine you’re working for a startup and you’ve just noticed a significant flaw in your product’s design. Before taking it to the senior manager, you want to do a comprehensive study on the issue and provide solutions. On a greater scale, problem-oriented case studies are a vital part of relevant socio-economic discussions.
  • Cumulative case studies collect information and offer comparisons. In business, case studies are often used to tell people about the value of a product.
  • Critical case studies explore the causes and effects of a certain case.
  • Illustrative case studies describe certain events, investigating outcomes and lessons learned.

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Case Study Format

The case study format is typically made up of eight parts:

  • Executive Summary. Explain what you will examine in the case study. Write an overview of the field you’re researching. Make a thesis statement and sum up the results of your observation in a maximum of 2 sentences.
  • Background. Provide background information and the most relevant facts. Isolate the issues.
  • Case Evaluation. Isolate the sections of the study you want to focus on. In it, explain why something is working or is not working.
  • Proposed Solutions. Offer realistic ways to solve what isn’t working or how to improve its current condition. Explain why these solutions work by offering testable evidence.
  • Conclusion. Summarize the main points from the case evaluations and proposed solutions. 6. Recommendations. Talk about the strategy that you should choose. Explain why this choice is the most appropriate.
  • Implementation. Explain how to put the specific strategies into action.
  • References. Provide all the citations.

How to Write a Case Study

Let's discover how to write a case study.

How to Write a Case Study

Setting Up the Research

When writing a case study, remember that research should always come first. Reading many different sources and analyzing other points of view will help you come up with more creative solutions. You can also conduct an actual interview to thoroughly investigate the customer story that you'll need for your case study. Including all of the necessary research, writing a case study may take some time. The research process involves doing the following:

  • Define your objective. Explain the reason why you’re presenting your subject. Figure out where you will feature your case study; whether it is written, on video, shown as an infographic, streamed as a podcast, etc.
  • Determine who will be the right candidate for your case study. Get permission, quotes, and other features that will make your case study effective. Get in touch with your candidate to see if they approve of being part of your work. Study that candidate’s situation and note down what caused it.
  • Identify which various consequences could result from the situation. Follow these guidelines on how to start a case study: surf the net to find some general information you might find useful.
  • Make a list of credible sources and examine them. Seek out important facts and highlight problems. Always write down your ideas and make sure to brainstorm.
  • Focus on several key issues – why they exist, and how they impact your research subject. Think of several unique solutions. Draw from class discussions, readings, and personal experience. When writing a case study, focus on the best solution and explore it in depth. After having all your research in place, writing a case study will be easy. You may first want to check the rubric and criteria of your assignment for the correct case study structure.

Read Also: 'CREDIBLE SOURCES: WHAT ARE THEY?'

Although your instructor might be looking at slightly different criteria, every case study rubric essentially has the same standards. Your professor will want you to exhibit 8 different outcomes:

  • Correctly identify the concepts, theories, and practices in the discipline.
  • Identify the relevant theories and principles associated with the particular study.
  • Evaluate legal and ethical principles and apply them to your decision-making.
  • Recognize the global importance and contribution of your case.
  • Construct a coherent summary and explanation of the study.
  • Demonstrate analytical and critical-thinking skills.
  • Explain the interrelationships between the environment and nature.
  • Integrate theory and practice of the discipline within the analysis.

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Case Study Outline

Let's look at the structure of an outline based on the issue of the alcoholic addiction of 30 people.

Introduction

  • Statement of the issue: Alcoholism is a disease rather than a weakness of character.
  • Presentation of the problem: Alcoholism is affecting more than 14 million people in the USA, which makes it the third most common mental illness there.
  • Explanation of the terms: In the past, alcoholism was commonly referred to as alcohol dependence or alcohol addiction. Alcoholism is now the more severe stage of this addiction in the disorder spectrum.
  • Hypotheses: Drinking in excess can lead to the use of other drugs.
  • Importance of your story: How the information you present can help people with their addictions.
  • Background of the story: Include an explanation of why you chose this topic.
  • Presentation of analysis and data: Describe the criteria for choosing 30 candidates, the structure of the interview, and the outcomes.
  • Strong argument 1: ex. X% of candidates dealing with anxiety and depression...
  • Strong argument 2: ex. X amount of people started drinking by their mid-teens.
  • Strong argument 3: ex. X% of respondents’ parents had issues with alcohol.
  • Concluding statement: I have researched if alcoholism is a disease and found out that…
  • Recommendations: Ways and actions for preventing alcohol use.

Writing a Case Study Draft

After you’ve done your case study research and written the outline, it’s time to focus on the draft. In a draft, you have to develop and write your case study by using: the data which you collected throughout the research, interviews, and the analysis processes that were undertaken. Follow these rules for the draft:

How to Write a Case Study

  • Your draft should contain at least 4 sections: an introduction; a body where you should include background information, an explanation of why you decided to do this case study, and a presentation of your main findings; a conclusion where you present data; and references.
  • In the introduction, you should set the pace very clearly. You can even raise a question or quote someone you interviewed in the research phase. It must provide adequate background information on the topic. The background may include analyses of previous studies on your topic. Include the aim of your case here as well. Think of it as a thesis statement. The aim must describe the purpose of your work—presenting the issues that you want to tackle. Include background information, such as photos or videos you used when doing the research.
  • Describe your unique research process, whether it was through interviews, observations, academic journals, etc. The next point includes providing the results of your research. Tell the audience what you found out. Why is this important, and what could be learned from it? Discuss the real implications of the problem and its significance in the world.
  • Include quotes and data (such as findings, percentages, and awards). This will add a personal touch and better credibility to the case you present. Explain what results you find during your interviews in regards to the problem and how it developed. Also, write about solutions which have already been proposed by other people who have already written about this case.
  • At the end of your case study, you should offer possible solutions, but don’t worry about solving them yourself.

Use Data to Illustrate Key Points in Your Case Study

Even though your case study is a story, it should be based on evidence. Use as much data as possible to illustrate your point. Without the right data, your case study may appear weak and the readers may not be able to relate to your issue as much as they should. Let's see the examples from essay writing service :

‍ With data: Alcoholism is affecting more than 14 million people in the USA, which makes it the third most common mental illness there. Without data: A lot of people suffer from alcoholism in the United States.

Try to include as many credible sources as possible. You may have terms or sources that could be hard for other cultures to understand. If this is the case, you should include them in the appendix or Notes for the Instructor or Professor.

Finalizing the Draft: Checklist

After you finish drafting your case study, polish it up by answering these ‘ask yourself’ questions and think about how to end your case study:

  • Check that you follow the correct case study format, also in regards to text formatting.
  • Check that your work is consistent with its referencing and citation style.
  • Micro-editing — check for grammar and spelling issues.
  • Macro-editing — does ‘the big picture’ come across to the reader? Is there enough raw data, such as real-life examples or personal experiences? Have you made your data collection process completely transparent? Does your analysis provide a clear conclusion, allowing for further research and practice?

Problems to avoid:

  • Overgeneralization – Do not go into further research that deviates from the main problem.
  • Failure to Document Limitations – Just as you have to clearly state the limitations of a general research study, you must describe the specific limitations inherent in the subject of analysis.
  • Failure to Extrapolate All Possible Implications – Just as you don't want to over-generalize from your case study findings, you also have to be thorough in the consideration of all possible outcomes or recommendations derived from your findings.

How to Create a Title Page and Cite a Case Study

Let's see how to create an awesome title page.

Your title page depends on the prescribed citation format. The title page should include:

  • A title that attracts some attention and describes your study
  • The title should have the words “case study” in it
  • The title should range between 5-9 words in length
  • Your name and contact information
  • Your finished paper should be only 500 to 1,500 words in length.With this type of assignment, write effectively and avoid fluff

Here is a template for the APA and MLA format title page:

There are some cases when you need to cite someone else's study in your own one – therefore, you need to master how to cite a case study. A case study is like a research paper when it comes to citations. You can cite it like you cite a book, depending on what style you need.

Citation Example in MLA ‍ Hill, Linda, Tarun Khanna, and Emily A. Stecker. HCL Technologies. Boston: Harvard Business Publishing, 2008. Print.
Citation Example in APA ‍ Hill, L., Khanna, T., & Stecker, E. A. (2008). HCL Technologies. Boston: Harvard Business Publishing.
Citation Example in Chicago Hill, Linda, Tarun Khanna, and Emily A. Stecker. HCL Technologies.

Case Study Examples

To give you an idea of a professional case study example, we gathered and linked some below.

Eastman Kodak Case Study

Case Study Example: Audi Trains Mexican Autoworkers in Germany

To conclude, a case study is one of the best methods of getting an overview of what happened to a person, a group, or a situation in practice. It allows you to have an in-depth glance at the real-life problems that businesses, healthcare industry, criminal justice, etc. may face. This insight helps us look at such situations in a different light. This is because we see scenarios that we otherwise would not, without necessarily being there. If you need custom essays , try our research paper writing services .

Get Help Form Qualified Writers

Crafting a case study is not easy. You might want to write one of high quality, but you don’t have the time or expertise. If you’re having trouble with your case study, help with essay request - we'll help. EssayPro writers have read and written countless case studies and are experts in endless disciplines. Request essay writing, editing, or proofreading assistance from our custom case study writing service , and all of your worries will be gone.

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Home Blog Business How to Present a Case Study: Examples and Best Practices

How to Present a Case Study: Examples and Best Practices

Case Study: How to Write and Present It

Marketers, consultants, salespeople, and all other types of business managers often use case study analysis to highlight a success story, showing how an exciting problem can be or was addressed. But how do you create a compelling case study and then turn it into a memorable presentation? Get a lowdown from this post! 

Table of Content s

  • Why Case Studies are a Popular Marketing Technique 

Popular Case Study Format Types

How to write a case study: a 4-step framework, how to do a case study presentation: 3 proven tips, how long should a case study be, final tip: use compelling presentation visuals, business case study examples, what is a case study .

Let’s start with this great case study definition by the University of South Caroline:

In the social sciences, the term case study refers to both a method of analysis and a specific research design for examining a problem, both of which can generalize findings across populations.

In simpler terms — a case study is investigative research into a problem aimed at presenting or highlighting solution(s) to the analyzed issues.

A standard business case study provides insights into:

  • General business/market conditions 
  • The main problem faced 
  • Methods applied 
  • The outcomes gained using a specific tool or approach

Case studies (also called case reports) are also used in clinical settings to analyze patient outcomes outside of the business realm. 

But this is a topic for another time. In this post, we’ll focus on teaching you how to write and present a business case, plus share several case study PowerPoint templates and design tips! 

Case Study Woman Doing Research PPT Template

Why Case Studies are a Popular Marketing Technique 

Besides presenting a solution to an internal issue, case studies are often used as a content marketing technique . According to a 2020 Content Marketing Institute report, 69% of B2B marketers use case studies as part of their marketing mix.

A case study informs the reader about a possible solution and soft-sells the results, which can be achieved with your help (e.g., by using your software or by partnering with your specialist). 

For the above purpose, case studies work like a charm. Per the same report: 

  • For 9% of marketers, case studies are also the best method for nurturing leads. 
  • 23% admit that case studies are beneficial for improving conversions. 

Moreover, case studies also help improve your brand’s credibility, especially in the current fake news landscape and dubious claims made without proper credit. 

Ultimately, case studies naturally help build up more compelling, relatable stories and showcase your product benefits through the prism of extra social proof, courtesy of the case study subject. 

Case Study Computer PPT Template

Most case studies come either as a slide deck or as a downloadable PDF document. 

Typically, you have several options to distribute your case study for maximum reach:

  • Case study presentations — in-person, virtual, or pre-recorded, there are many times when a case study presentation comes in handy. For example, during client workshops, sales pitches, networking events, conferences, trade shows, etc. 
  • Dedicated website page — highlighting case study examples on your website is a great way to convert middle-on-the-funnel prospects. Google’s Think With Google case study section is a great example of a web case study design done right.

Case Study Example Google PPT Template

  • Blog case studies — data-driven storytelling is a staunch way to stand apart from your competition by providing unique insights, no other brand can tell. 
  • Video case studies — video is a great medium for showcasing more complex business cases and celebrating customer success stories.

Once you decide on your case study format, the next step is collecting data and then translating it into a storyline. There are different case study methods and research approaches you can use to procure data. 

But let’s say you already have all your facts straight and need to organize them in a clean copy for your presentation deck. Here’s how you should do it. 

Business Case Study Example PPT Template

1. Identify the Problem 

Every compelling case study research starts with a problem statement definition. While in business settings, there’s no need to explain your methodology in-depth; you should still open your presentation with a quick problem recap slide.

Be sure to mention: 

  • What’s the purpose of the case study? What will the audience learn? 
  • Set the scene. Explain the before, aka the problems someone was facing. 
  • Advertise the main issues and findings without highlighting specific details.

The above information should nicely fit in several paragraphs or 2-3 case study template slides

2. Explain the Solution 

The bulk of your case study copy and presentation slides should focus on the provided solution(s). This is the time to speak at length about how the subject went from before to the glorious after. 

Here are some writing prompts to help you articulate this better:

  • State the subject’s main objective and goals. What outcomes were they after?
  • Explain the main solution(s) provided. What was done? Why this, but not that? 
  • Mention if they tried any alternatives. Why did those work? Why were you better?

This part may take the longest to write. Don’t rush it and reiterate several times. Sprinkle in some powerful words and catchphrases to make your copy more compelling.

3. Collect Testimonials 

Persuasive case studies feature the voice of customer (VoC) data — first-party testimonials and assessments of how well the solution works. These provide extra social proof and credibility to all the claims you are making. 

So plan and schedule interviews with your subjects to collect their input and testimonials. Also, design your case study interview questions in a way that lets you obtain quantifiable results.

4. Package The Information in a Slide Deck

Once you have a rough first draft, try different business case templates and designs to see how these help structure all the available information. 

As a rule of thumb, try to keep one big idea per slide. If you are talking about a solution, first present the general bullet points. Then give each solution a separate slide where you’ll provide more context and perhaps share some quantifiable results.

For example, if you look at case study presentation examples from AWS like this one about Stripe , you’ll notice that the slide deck has few texts and really focuses on the big picture, while the speaker provides extra context.

Need some extra case study presentation design help? Download our Business Case Study PowerPoint template with 100% editable slides. 

Case Study Man With Giant Clipboard PPT Template

Your spoken presentation (and public speaking skills ) are equally if not more important than the case study copy and slide deck. To make a strong business case, follow these quick techniques. 

Focus on Telling a Great Story

A case study is a story of overcoming a challenge, and achieving something grand. Your delivery should reflect that. Step away from the standard “features => benefits” sales formula. Instead, make your customer the hero of the study. Describe the road they went through and how you’ve helped them succeed. 

The premises of your story can be as simple as:

  • Help with overcoming a hurdle
  • Gaining major impact
  • Reaching a new milestone
  • Solving a persisting issue no one else code 

Based on the above, create a clear story arc. Show where your hero started. Then explain what type of journey they went through. Inject some emotions into the mix to make your narrative more relatable and memorable. 

Experiment with Copywriting Formulas 

Copywriting is the art and science of organizing words into compelling and persuasive combinations that help readers retain the right ideas. 

To ensure that the audience retains the right takeaways from your case study presentation, you can try using some of the classic copywriting formulas to structure your delivery. These include:

  • AIDCA — short for A ttention, I nterest, D esire, C onviction, and A ction. First, grab the audience’s attention by addressing the major problem. Next, pique their interest with some teaser facts. Spark their desire by showing that you know the right way out. Then, show a conviction that you know how to solve the issue—finally, prompt follow-up action such as contacting you to learn more. 
  • PADS — is short for Problem, Agitation, Discredit, or Solution. This is more of a sales approach to case study narration. Again, you start with a problem, agitate about its importance, discredit why other solutions won’t cut it, and then present your option. 
  • 4Ps — short for P roblem, P romise, P roof, P roposal. This is a middle-ground option that prioritizes storytelling over hard pitches. Set the scene first with a problem. Then make a promise of how you can solve it. Show proof in the form of numbers, testimonials, and different scenarios. Round it up with a proposal for getting the same outcomes. 

Take an Emotion-Inducing Perspective

The key to building a strong rapport with an audience is showing that you are one of them and fully understand what they are going through. 

One of the ways to build this connection is by speaking from an emotion-inducing perspective. This is best illustrated with an example: 

  • A business owner went to the bank
  • A business owner came into a bank branch 

In the second case, the wording prompts listeners to paint a mental picture from the perspective of the bank employees — a role you’d like them to relate to. By placing your audience in the right visual perspective, you can make them more receptive to your pitches. 

Case Study Medical Example PPT Template

One common question that arises when creating a case study is determining its length. The length of a case study can vary depending on the complexity of the problem and the level of detail you want to provide. Here are some general guidelines to help you decide how long your case study should be:

  • Concise and Informative: A good case study should be concise and to the point. Avoid unnecessary fluff and filler content. Focus on providing valuable information and insights.
  • Tailor to Your Audience: Consider your target audience when deciding the length. If you’re presenting to a technical audience, you might include more in-depth technical details. For a non-technical audience, keep it more high-level and accessible.
  • Cover Key Points: Ensure that your case study covers the key points effectively. These include the problem statement, the solution, and the outcomes. Provide enough information for the reader to understand the context and the significance of your case.
  • Visuals: Visual elements such as charts, graphs, images, and diagrams can help convey information more effectively. Use visuals to supplement your written content and make complex information easier to understand.
  • Engagement: Keep your audience engaged. A case study that is too long may lose the reader’s interest. Make sure the content is engaging and holds the reader’s attention throughout.
  • Consider the Format: Depending on the format you choose (e.g., written document, presentation, video), the ideal length may vary. For written case studies, aim for a length that can be easily read in one sitting.

In general, a written case study for business purposes often falls in the range of 1,000 to 2,000 words. However, this is not a strict rule, and the length can be shorter or longer based on the factors mentioned above.

Our brain is wired to process images much faster than text. So when you are presenting a case study, always look for an opportunity to tie in some illustrations such as: 

  • A product demo/preview
  • Processes chart 
  • Call-out quotes or numbers
  • Custom illustrations or graphics 
  • Customer or team headshots 

Use icons to minimize the volume of text. Also, opt for readable fonts that can look good in a smaller size too.

To better understand how to create an effective business case study, let’s explore some examples of successful case studies:

Apple Inc.: Apple’s case study on the launch of the iPhone is a classic example. It covers the problem of a changing mobile phone market, the innovative solution (the iPhone), and the outstanding outcomes, such as market dominance and increased revenue.

Tesla, Inc.: Tesla’s case study on electric vehicles and sustainable transportation is another compelling example. It addresses the problem of environmental concerns and the need for sustainable transportation solutions. The case study highlights Tesla’s electric cars as the solution and showcases the positive impact on reducing carbon emissions.

Amazon.com: Amazon’s case study on customer-centricity is a great illustration of how the company transformed the e-commerce industry. It discusses the problem of customer dissatisfaction with traditional retail, Amazon’s customer-focused approach as the solution, and the remarkable outcomes in terms of customer loyalty and market growth.

Coca-Cola: Coca-Cola’s case study on brand evolution is a valuable example. It outlines the challenge of adapting to changing consumer preferences and demographics. The case study demonstrates how Coca-Cola continually reinvented its brand to stay relevant and succeed in the global market.

Airbnb: Airbnb’s case study on the sharing economy is an intriguing example. It addresses the problem of travelers seeking unique and affordable accommodations. The case study presents Airbnb’s platform as the solution and highlights its impact on the hospitality industry and the sharing economy.

These examples showcase the diversity of case studies in the business world and how they effectively communicate problems, solutions, and outcomes. When creating your own business case study, use these examples as inspiration and tailor your approach to your specific industry and target audience.

Finally, practice your case study presentation several times — solo and together with your team — to collect feedback and make last-minute refinements! 

1. Business Case Study PowerPoint Template

how to make problem statement in case study

To efficiently create a Business Case Study it’s important to ask all the right questions and document everything necessary, therefore this PowerPoint Template will provide all the sections you need.

Use This Template

2. Medical Case Study PowerPoint Template

how to make problem statement in case study

3. Medical Infographics PowerPoint Templates

how to make problem statement in case study

4. Success Story PowerPoint Template

how to make problem statement in case study

5. Detective Research PowerPoint Template

how to make problem statement in case study

6. Animated Clinical Study PowerPoint Templates

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9+ SAMPLE Case Study Problem Statement in PDF

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Writing problem statements in UX: Definition, example, template

how to make problem statement in case study

Problem statements are an often neglected yet immensely important part of any UX/UI design initiative. After all, designers are not pixel pushers; they are problem solvers, and to effectively solve a problem, you first must understand which problem you are solving for.

UX Problem Statement

A well-crafted UX problem statement can help eliminate ambiguity and focus your whole process on designing solutions that drive impact, not just look pretty. Let’s learn how.

What is a UX problem statement?

The role of problem statements in user-centered design, defining the user and their needs, identifying the problem and its scope, outlining desired impact and success criteria, next step: ideating solutions, ux problem statement template.

In simple terms, a UX problem statement, often called a user-need statement, is a brief and precise description of which problem you are solving and what you are trying to achieve. It serves as a guardrail in the whole design process.

When we start brainstorming solutions or dive deep into Figma and start polishing the interface, it’s often easy to get lost in the flow of things and forget which problems we are actually trying to solve, which inevitably leads to suboptimal solutions. The goal of a UX problem statement grounds us in user thinking and even helps quickly prevalidate solutions.

Problem statements are critical in each phase of a user-centered design process . At the empathize phase, it helps guide your research questions and capture the most important learnings.

It then helps you wrap up the problem definition phase, allowing you to synthesize your key learning in a digestible, shareable artifact. A well-researched problem statement then constrains and focuses your ideation toward solutions that have the greatest chance to move the needle, and later, you can reference it regularly when prototyping your solutions.

Problem statements are also an excellent tool for aligning everyone on the team, from UX researchers to UI designers to product managers. It’s a significant step toward solving the omnipresent design problem: keeping everyone focused on the same thing.

Components of an effective problem statement: A case study

There is no silver bullet for how to craft an effective problem statement. Various companies, designers, and managers approach it slightly differently. However, most of them have three things in common:

  • Focus on the end user
  • Strive to name the problem clearly
  • Define outcomes the solution should achieve

Components of UX Problem Statement

I tend to structure my problem statements similarly. In this section, I’ll combine theory with sharing the story of how we used the UX problem statement to design a solution for marketplace sellers.

The first step is to understand who you are designing for. The most common trap here is to focus on generic users. I saw numerous problem statements saying we are designing for “company X’s user.”

The problem with that? Your product is most likely used by various groups and subsegments of users.

Whoever you are designing for, odds are the solution isn’t focused on 100 percent of your user base. Different users have different problems, needs, and expectations. Unless you touch a fundamental flow (such as the homepage), you are likely designing for no more than 20–70 percent of the user base.

Specificity is the key. The more specific your target audience, the higher the chance you’ll discover specific problems and low-hanging fruits. To better understand who you are solving for, you can employ various user discovery techniques:

  • Exploratory interviews
  • Ethnographic studies
  • Qualitative or quantitative surveys
  • Empathy mapping

Regardless of your chosen technique, I’d recommend having at least two interviews. Nothing helps build empathy better than a direct interaction with users.

We had a high-level objective of boosting sellers’ satisfaction in a pet marketplace. It already narrowed down our focus group to sellers, but that was still too broad a category to focus on.

how to make problem statement in case study

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We started with a quantitative approach to spot whether there are any segments of sellers with the lowest satisfaction scores. To our surprise, our most frequent sellers were also often most dissatisfied with buyer quality.

We then proceeded with a survey and four interviews to dig deeper and see what they had in common. Turns out sellers had issues managing frequent in-product chats with prospective buyers. The volume was simply too overwhelming, and it took conversations with numerous prospects before closing a deal.

Based on that insight, we narrowed our user focus to sellers averaging more than 10 open chats daily:

Brief User Persona

I am also a big fan of mapping the percent share of users to better understand the size of the opportunity. It later helps prioritize the size of various opportunities.

Now that you’ve identified who you are designing for, go deep into the problem space.

Focus your research on your defined persona. If other users also experience problems with the chat feature, I’d recommend mapping it as a separate problem statement.

Nothing prohibits you from designing for two problem statements simultaneously, but you don’t want to confuse your insights across user groups. Ultimately, it’s better to fully satisfy one group of users than to provide a suboptimal solution for everyone.

Your persona identification exercises from the previous step probably gave you a sense of where the main problem lies. I’d treat it as an initial problem hypothesis. Follow up with problem identification exercises to further validate and refine that hypothesis by, for example:

  • Conducting focused follow-up interviews
  • Performing a root cause analysis or a 5 Whys exercise to uncover the source of the problem
  • Mapping user journey maps to identify when the problem occurs and where it fits into the whole picture
  • Holding usability tests to understand where users struggle with the current solution

Once again, there are various ways to capture the problem, ranging from robust one-pagers to one-sentence summaries. I found the sweet spot in quickly summarizing three main areas of the problem:

  • What do users struggle with?
  • When in the user flow does it happen? Is it seasonal or tied to any specific day/flow?
  • Why is the problem worth solving? What pain points does it cause?

The what part gives you a high-level picture, the when part will help you focus your solutions better, and the why part gives extra context and helps with further prioritization.

We knew that the volume of chat interactions was the problem, but we wanted to dig deeper. We proceeded with an extra survey focused on chat interactions sent to our top sellers and an additional five interviews.

It turned out that although the volume itself is problematic, the biggest pain point is during weekends. Sellers reported a work-life balance issue since buyers’ interest peaked during weekends, and sellers feared that if they waited until Monday, they’d lose sales opportunities.

We mapped the problem space in the following way:

Problem Space Mapped

Answering all three questions helped us not only understand the basic problem, but also:

  • Knowing that the problem happens mostly on weekends helped guide our thinking toward a weekend-focused solution rather than generic chat improvements
  • Understanding why the problem is important for users later helped us with proper feature communication

Now that we know who we are designing for and which problem we are solving, we need to identify what we actually want to achieve. The truth is that each problem can be solved in many ways. Identifying success criteria will help you narrow the focus even further and maximize the chances the solutions will bring meaningful results for both users and businesses.

I recommend splitting it into two parts:

  • User outcomes : How do we want to make the world better for the user?
  • Business outcomes : How do we want to drive the business forward?

Don’t neglect the business outcome. You’ll have a higher chance of getting buy-in for the direction if you can showcase how the solution will help the business grow.

Let’s revisit our chat case study. The desired outcome is clear for the pain point of working during the weekend, driven by the fear of losing leads. Ideally, we’d like our sellers to have free time during the weekend without sacrificing the number of leads.

Desired Outcome

Let’s now look at the challenge from the business perspective. After consulting with the business owner, we learned that the ideal business outcome would be to design changes resulting in quicker transaction lead time (the time from the first interaction to finalizing the deal), as that is what the chat was initially designed for.

But since it might be extremely difficult to both reduce sellers’ work time during weekends and decrease the lead time, as a bare minimum, we won approval to go forward as long as we don’t harm the lead time, meaning we don’t delay the whole sales funnel. That gave us clear goals to strive for.

With a clear problem statement, we can jump into ideation exercises and start planning potential solutions. Although I won’t get into solution ideation in depth here, let me just share a few examples of how the UX problem statement can help you quickly filter and prevalidate ideas.

The whole ideation process was rather messy, but for the sake of example, here are two of the ideas we brainstormed:

  • Letting sellers snooze the chat
  • Creating an FAQ section for each seller

We could then use our UX problem statement to validate the idea quickly.

One solution was to let sellers snooze the chat. This solved the user problem of not having free time during the weekend. However, it doesn’t address their fear of not losing leads, nor does it contribute to our business outcomes. We concluded it would help neither from a business nor user perspective, so we killed the idea

Our other solution was to create an FAQ section for each seller. We assumed that the FAQ sections in the flow of starting a new chat could reduce the need to open a new chat. It also seemed the section could even lead to faster lead times (no need to wait for chat answers to get the information the buyer needs), and the FAQ section also works on weekends! We kept it on the list of ideas to pursue.

Although the problem statement itself didn’t tell us which solution was best (we had ~40 ideas in total), it helped us quickly narrow down the list of ideas and guide further direction.

On the other hand, if we had just a loosely defined problem without any deeper understanding, how would we know that the chat snooze option wouldn’t work? We could spend weeks designing and implementing it just to figure out it doesn’t solve the right problem since it wasn’t the distraction that was the problem, but the fear of losing leads.

A UX problem statement gave us both a quick and informed prioritization tool. It was faster than deeply debating each idea and way more precise than choosing on the merit of gut feeling-driven dot votes.

If you’re interested, we ended up introducing and iterating on the FAQ section, which reduced the number of chats by about 30 percent and slightly improved the lead time. It didn’t fully solve the problem, but it was a great first step.

If you’d like to use the same template I used when showcasing the buyer-seller chat story, here’s the link to a UX problem statement template .

UX Problem Statement

Click on File, and then Make a copy to create your UX problem statement.

Closing thoughts

I won’t lie to you: crafting a solid problem statement is a challenging and time-consuming endeavor. However, it’s still a drop in the ocean compared to investing in a solution that doesn’t solve underlying user and business needs.

A well-defined UX problem statement leads to these outcomes:

  • Better insights from more focused user research
  • More creative and specific solution ideas
  • The ability to prevalidate ideas quickly

Most of the designers I’ve met who never used problem statements (or any similar alternatives) always had the same answer: “We simply don’t have time.” I hope this article showed you that problem statements actually save time by having a more focused process and helping you choose better solutions.

If you have a manager or a client who pushes you to jump into Figma and start producing hi-fi solutions as soon as possible, try sharing this article with them to open the conversation. As tough as it is, educating stakeholders is also part of the designer’s job.

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How to write a case study — examples, templates, and tools

how to make problem statement in case study

It’s a marketer’s job to communicate the effectiveness of a product or service to potential and current customers to convince them to buy and keep business moving. One of the best methods for doing this is to share success stories that are relatable to prospects and customers based on their pain points, experiences, and overall needs.

That’s where case studies come in. Case studies are an essential part of a content marketing plan. These in-depth stories of customer experiences are some of the most effective at demonstrating the value of a product or service. Yet many marketers don’t use them, whether because of their regimented formats or the process of customer involvement and approval.

A case study is a powerful tool for showcasing your hard work and the success your customer achieved. But writing a great case study can be difficult if you’ve never done it before or if it’s been a while. This guide will show you how to write an effective case study and provide real-world examples and templates that will keep readers engaged and support your business.

In this article, you’ll learn:

What is a case study?

How to write a case study, case study templates, case study examples, case study tools.

A case study is the detailed story of a customer’s experience with a product or service that demonstrates their success and often includes measurable outcomes. Case studies are used in a range of fields and for various reasons, from business to academic research. They’re especially impactful in marketing as brands work to convince and convert consumers with relatable, real-world stories of actual customer experiences.

The best case studies tell the story of a customer’s success, including the steps they took, the results they achieved, and the support they received from a brand along the way. To write a great case study, you need to:

  • Celebrate the customer and make them — not a product or service — the star of the story.
  • Craft the story with specific audiences or target segments in mind so that the story of one customer will be viewed as relatable and actionable for another customer.
  • Write copy that is easy to read and engaging so that readers will gain the insights and messages intended.
  • Follow a standardized format that includes all of the essentials a potential customer would find interesting and useful.
  • Support all of the claims for success made in the story with data in the forms of hard numbers and customer statements.

Case studies are a type of review but more in depth, aiming to show — rather than just tell — the positive experiences that customers have with a brand. Notably, 89% of consumers read reviews before deciding to buy, and 79% view case study content as part of their purchasing process. When it comes to B2B sales, 52% of buyers rank case studies as an important part of their evaluation process.

Telling a brand story through the experience of a tried-and-true customer matters. The story is relatable to potential new customers as they imagine themselves in the shoes of the company or individual featured in the case study. Showcasing previous customers can help new ones see themselves engaging with your brand in the ways that are most meaningful to them.

Besides sharing the perspective of another customer, case studies stand out from other content marketing forms because they are based on evidence. Whether pulling from client testimonials or data-driven results, case studies tend to have more impact on new business because the story contains information that is both objective (data) and subjective (customer experience) — and the brand doesn’t sound too self-promotional.

89% of consumers read reviews before buying, 79% view case studies, and 52% of B2B buyers prioritize case studies in the evaluation process.

Case studies are unique in that there’s a fairly standardized format for telling a customer’s story. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for creativity. It’s all about making sure that teams are clear on the goals for the case study — along with strategies for supporting content and channels — and understanding how the story fits within the framework of the company’s overall marketing goals.

Here are the basic steps to writing a good case study.

1. Identify your goal

Start by defining exactly who your case study will be designed to help. Case studies are about specific instances where a company works with a customer to achieve a goal. Identify which customers are likely to have these goals, as well as other needs the story should cover to appeal to them.

The answer is often found in one of the buyer personas that have been constructed as part of your larger marketing strategy. This can include anything from new leads generated by the marketing team to long-term customers that are being pressed for cross-sell opportunities. In all of these cases, demonstrating value through a relatable customer success story can be part of the solution to conversion.

2. Choose your client or subject

Who you highlight matters. Case studies tie brands together that might otherwise not cross paths. A writer will want to ensure that the highlighted customer aligns with their own company’s brand identity and offerings. Look for a customer with positive name recognition who has had great success with a product or service and is willing to be an advocate.

The client should also match up with the identified target audience. Whichever company or individual is selected should be a reflection of other potential customers who can see themselves in similar circumstances, having the same problems and possible solutions.

Some of the most compelling case studies feature customers who:

  • Switch from one product or service to another while naming competitors that missed the mark.
  • Experience measurable results that are relatable to others in a specific industry.
  • Represent well-known brands and recognizable names that are likely to compel action.
  • Advocate for a product or service as a champion and are well-versed in its advantages.

Whoever or whatever customer is selected, marketers must ensure they have the permission of the company involved before getting started. Some brands have strict review and approval procedures for any official marketing or promotional materials that include their name. Acquiring those approvals in advance will prevent any miscommunication or wasted effort if there is an issue with their legal or compliance teams.

3. Conduct research and compile data

Substantiating the claims made in a case study — either by the marketing team or customers themselves — adds validity to the story. To do this, include data and feedback from the client that defines what success looks like. This can be anything from demonstrating return on investment (ROI) to a specific metric the customer was striving to improve. Case studies should prove how an outcome was achieved and show tangible results that indicate to the customer that your solution is the right one.

This step could also include customer interviews. Make sure that the people being interviewed are key stakeholders in the purchase decision or deployment and use of the product or service that is being highlighted. Content writers should work off a set list of questions prepared in advance. It can be helpful to share these with the interviewees beforehand so they have time to consider and craft their responses. One of the best interview tactics to keep in mind is to ask questions where yes and no are not natural answers. This way, your subject will provide more open-ended responses that produce more meaningful content.

4. Choose the right format

There are a number of different ways to format a case study. Depending on what you hope to achieve, one style will be better than another. However, there are some common elements to include, such as:

  • An engaging headline
  • A subject and customer introduction
  • The unique challenge or challenges the customer faced
  • The solution the customer used to solve the problem
  • The results achieved
  • Data and statistics to back up claims of success
  • A strong call to action (CTA) to engage with the vendor

It’s also important to note that while case studies are traditionally written as stories, they don’t have to be in a written format. Some companies choose to get more creative with their case studies and produce multimedia content, depending on their audience and objectives. Case study formats can include traditional print stories, interactive web or social content, data-heavy infographics, professionally shot videos, podcasts, and more.

5. Write your case study

We’ll go into more detail later about how exactly to write a case study, including templates and examples. Generally speaking, though, there are a few things to keep in mind when writing your case study.

  • Be clear and concise. Readers want to get to the point of the story quickly and easily, and they’ll be looking to see themselves reflected in the story right from the start.
  • Provide a big picture. Always make sure to explain who the client is, their goals, and how they achieved success in a short introduction to engage the reader.
  • Construct a clear narrative. Stick to the story from the perspective of the customer and what they needed to solve instead of just listing product features or benefits.
  • Leverage graphics. Incorporating infographics, charts, and sidebars can be a more engaging and eye-catching way to share key statistics and data in readable ways.
  • Offer the right amount of detail. Most case studies are one or two pages with clear sections that a reader can skim to find the information most important to them.
  • Include data to support claims. Show real results — both facts and figures and customer quotes — to demonstrate credibility and prove the solution works.

6. Promote your story

Marketers have a number of options for distribution of a freshly minted case study. Many brands choose to publish case studies on their website and post them on social media. This can help support SEO and organic content strategies while also boosting company credibility and trust as visitors see that other businesses have used the product or service.

Marketers are always looking for quality content they can use for lead generation. Consider offering a case study as gated content behind a form on a landing page or as an offer in an email message. One great way to do this is to summarize the content and tease the full story available for download after the user takes an action.

Sales teams can also leverage case studies, so be sure they are aware that the assets exist once they’re published. Especially when it comes to larger B2B sales, companies often ask for examples of similar customer challenges that have been solved.

Now that you’ve learned a bit about case studies and what they should include, you may be wondering how to start creating great customer story content. Here are a couple of templates you can use to structure your case study.

Template 1 — Challenge-solution-result format

  • Start with an engaging title. This should be fewer than 70 characters long for SEO best practices. One of the best ways to approach the title is to include the customer’s name and a hint at the challenge they overcame in the end.
  • Create an introduction. Lead with an explanation as to who the customer is, the need they had, and the opportunity they found with a specific product or solution. Writers can also suggest the success the customer experienced with the solution they chose.
  • Present the challenge. This should be several paragraphs long and explain the problem the customer faced and the issues they were trying to solve. Details should tie into the company’s products and services naturally. This section needs to be the most relatable to the reader so they can picture themselves in a similar situation.
  • Share the solution. Explain which product or service offered was the ideal fit for the customer and why. Feel free to delve into their experience setting up, purchasing, and onboarding the solution.
  • Explain the results. Demonstrate the impact of the solution they chose by backing up their positive experience with data. Fill in with customer quotes and tangible, measurable results that show the effect of their choice.
  • Ask for action. Include a CTA at the end of the case study that invites readers to reach out for more information, try a demo, or learn more — to nurture them further in the marketing pipeline. What you ask of the reader should tie directly into the goals that were established for the case study in the first place.

Template 2 — Data-driven format

  • Start with an engaging title. Be sure to include a statistic or data point in the first 70 characters. Again, it’s best to include the customer’s name as part of the title.
  • Create an overview. Share the customer’s background and a short version of the challenge they faced. Present the reason a particular product or service was chosen, and feel free to include quotes from the customer about their selection process.
  • Present data point 1. Isolate the first metric that the customer used to define success and explain how the product or solution helped to achieve this goal. Provide data points and quotes to substantiate the claim that success was achieved.
  • Present data point 2. Isolate the second metric that the customer used to define success and explain what the product or solution did to achieve this goal. Provide data points and quotes to substantiate the claim that success was achieved.
  • Present data point 3. Isolate the final metric that the customer used to define success and explain what the product or solution did to achieve this goal. Provide data points and quotes to substantiate the claim that success was achieved.
  • Summarize the results. Reiterate the fact that the customer was able to achieve success thanks to a specific product or service. Include quotes and statements that reflect customer satisfaction and suggest they plan to continue using the solution.
  • Ask for action. Include a CTA at the end of the case study that asks readers to reach out for more information, try a demo, or learn more — to further nurture them in the marketing pipeline. Again, remember that this is where marketers can look to convert their content into action with the customer.

While templates are helpful, seeing a case study in action can also be a great way to learn. Here are some examples of how Adobe customers have experienced success.

Juniper Networks

One example is the Adobe and Juniper Networks case study , which puts the reader in the customer’s shoes. The beginning of the story quickly orients the reader so that they know exactly who the article is about and what they were trying to achieve. Solutions are outlined in a way that shows Adobe Experience Manager is the best choice and a natural fit for the customer. Along the way, quotes from the client are incorporated to help add validity to the statements. The results in the case study are conveyed with clear evidence of scale and volume using tangible data.

A Lenovo case study showing statistics, a pull quote and featured headshot, the headline "The customer is king.," and Adobe product links.

The story of Lenovo’s journey with Adobe is one that spans years of planning, implementation, and rollout. The Lenovo case study does a great job of consolidating all of this into a relatable journey that other enterprise organizations can see themselves taking, despite the project size. This case study also features descriptive headers and compelling visual elements that engage the reader and strengthen the content.

Tata Consulting

When it comes to using data to show customer results, this case study does an excellent job of conveying details and numbers in an easy-to-digest manner. Bullet points at the start break up the content while also helping the reader understand exactly what the case study will be about. Tata Consulting used Adobe to deliver elevated, engaging content experiences for a large telecommunications client of its own — an objective that’s relatable for a lot of companies.

Case studies are a vital tool for any marketing team as they enable you to demonstrate the value of your company’s products and services to others. They help marketers do their job and add credibility to a brand trying to promote its solutions by using the experiences and stories of real customers.

When you’re ready to get started with a case study:

  • Think about a few goals you’d like to accomplish with your content.
  • Make a list of successful clients that would be strong candidates for a case study.
  • Reach out to the client to get their approval and conduct an interview.
  • Gather the data to present an engaging and effective customer story.

Adobe can help

There are several Adobe products that can help you craft compelling case studies. Adobe Experience Platform helps you collect data and deliver great customer experiences across every channel. Once you’ve created your case studies, Experience Platform will help you deliver the right information to the right customer at the right time for maximum impact.

To learn more, watch the Adobe Experience Platform story .

Keep in mind that the best case studies are backed by data. That’s where Adobe Real-Time Customer Data Platform and Adobe Analytics come into play. With Real-Time CDP, you can gather the data you need to build a great case study and target specific customers to deliver the content to the right audience at the perfect moment.

Watch the Real-Time CDP overview video to learn more.

Finally, Adobe Analytics turns real-time data into real-time insights. It helps your business collect and synthesize data from multiple platforms to make more informed decisions and create the best case study possible.

Request a demo to learn more about Adobe Analytics.

https://business.adobe.com/blog/perspectives/b2b-ecommerce-10-case-studies-inspire-you

https://business.adobe.com/blog/basics/business-case

https://business.adobe.com/blog/basics/what-is-real-time-analytics

What Is a Problem Statement in UX? (And How To Write One)

What is a problem statement, and how do you write one? Look no further. We’ll show you everything you need to know in this guide.

The user experience design process is all about solving problems, but unless you define the problem, your design may miss the mark. This is why creating a problem statement for each project you tackle is so important. A problem statement, which can also be referred to as a POV statement or user need statement, succinctly sums up the problem or pain point users need you to solve with your design. 

By creating a problem statement, you ensure your team, including stakeholders and clients, are all on the same page about who you’re designing for, the problem you plan to help them with, and why it’s important. Ultimately, articulating these things through a well-considered, user-centric problem statement means your whole team will be working toward the same design goals.

In this guide, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about problem statements. Here’s what we’ll cover:

  • What is a problem statement? A definition
  • When should a problem statement be created?
  • How to write a problem statement
  • Problem statement examples

Ready? Let’s go. 

1. What is a problem statement?

A problem statement sums up the user pain-point or problem you’ll seek to solve with your design . 

A problem statement is an actionable summary of your user, their goals, and what you need to solve to meet those goals. It sets the course for your project’s user experience; however, it shouldn’t include anything about the design elements or user functionality you might employ to solve the problem. Instead, it should provide insight into why you’re designing the user experience to begin with. 

In other words, a user doesn’t need to be able to use two-factor authentication to get into a banking app, they need to be able to access their banking information securely. The problem statement should lay out the user’s need (secure access) but leave out any possible solutions (two-factor authentication), which shouldn’t be considered until further along in the design process. 

2. When should a problem statement be created?

Problem statements are created during the define stage , the second step in the Design Thinking process . This stage builds on the previous step, the empathize phase, in which you and your team perform user research to learn about the people who will utilize the product you’re designing, including their needs, desires, and challenges. Once you understand your users, you can’t move right into generating design solutions because you don’t yet have a specific objective for the user experience you’re creating. That’s what makes the define stage and problem statements so essential. 

The problem statement you create in the define stage will be your team’s guiding light in the ideate phase, and all the remaining stages, in the Design Thinking process.

Ultimately, you need to write a problem statement whenever you’re setting out to solve a user pain-point through design. So how do you go about writing an effective problem statement? Let’s find out. 

3. How to write a problem statement

There are several techniques UX designers employ to arrive at a succinct but well-thought-out problem statement. These include:

In the 4 Ws technique , you use the information you gathered in the empathize phase to answer the key questions: who, what, where, and why. Whether in collaboration with other members of the team or on your own, you will ask and answer questions that begin with the 4 Ws. This will enable you to describe who your users are, what they want, where they’ll use your product, and why their problem is important. For example, you could ask:

  • Who : Who is impacted by this issue? Make sure to get specific by including information from what you know about users’ demographics, psychographics , personas, and other findings from user research.
  • What : What is the problem? What are the obstacles users are facing? What are they trying to do? What will make the process less difficult?
  • Where : Where will they be using the product? Is there a specific context in which the problem comes up? Is the issue purely digital or is there a physical component?
  • Why : Why is this important? Why will users benefit from solving this problem? 

By asking questions based on the four Ws and brainstorming answers, you’ll be able to put into words the most important observations that came out of your user research, which you can then synthesize to arrive at a use-centric problem statement.

Much like the 4 Ws technique, the 5 Whys revolves around asking a series of simple questions, but in this case every one of those questions is “Why.” This technique helps you drill down on a problem to uncover its root cause by repeatedly asking a why question in response to your previous answer.

For example, perhaps during user research you discovered that a user named Jordan doesn’t have enough clothes to wear to work. Here’s how you can ask why to get to the root of their problem:

  • Why doesn’t Jordan have enough clothes to wear to work? Because they don’t own enough business casual clothing.
  • Why doesn’t Jordan own enough business casual clothing? They haven’t shopped for clothes in over a year
  • Why haven’t they shopped for clothes in over a year? Jordan hates to shop
  • Why does Jordan hate to shop? They get overwhelmed by the choices available
  • Why does Jordan get overwhelmed by the choices available? Jordan doesn’t know what clothes will look best on them

The fifth question indicates that the cause of Jordan’s problem is that they don’t know what clothes will look best on them. As a result, your problem statement should focus on Jordan’s need for assistance to find the best clothes options when shopping.

While this technique is referred to as the 5 Whys, the number five is only a rule of thumb. In order to determine the root cause of a user’s problem, you may need to ask why more or less than five times. Either way, when you use this technique, you should stop asking why once your answers are no longer valuable in defining the problem.

Moreover, when using this technique, make sure each answer to a “why” question is grounded in a real world issue so you can reach a concrete conclusion about the reason for the users’ challenge. In addition, you may find that the answer to each “why” question has more than one legitimate answer. If this is the case, you should follow each branch of questioning because it could reveal your user has more than one problem they need help with. 

Fill-in-the-blank

In order to be useful, a problem statement must be brief, point to a user need, and help set a goal for the design of the project’s user experience. In order to ensure a problem statement captures those components, several UX professionals have created simple fill-in-the-blank formulas and templates that can be used when writing problem statements. 

For example, the Nielsen Norman Group’s Sarah Gibbons provides a simple structure for a problem statement that includes three components : 

These are then combined following the pattern: “[A user] needs [need] in order to accomplish [goal].” For example, if the user is a dog owner, your problem statement might be: “A dog owner [user] needs to spend more time playing with their dog [need] in order to keep him engaged and happy [goal].

Similarly, designer Dan Brown provides a worksheet for building a problem statement that includes several steps that end in a complete problem statement. The first step involves identifying a specific user. This user should be based on a persona or profile from the empathize phase of the Design Thinking process, and should include details about the job (trial lawyer, diner cook, college student) or role (parent, dog owner, sibling) that makes them relevant to the project. 

Next, taking the perspective of the user, specify three activities they engage in during the week and the reason each of those things is important. For example, a dog owner:

  • Takes their dog for a walk because the dog needs to relieve himself.
  • Plays with their dog so their dog can stay engaged and happy.
  • Provides fresh water each day so their dog stays hydrated.

After this, take one of the three activities and break it down into the steps the user must take to complete the task, an obstacle they might encounter at each step, and how that makes the user feel. For example, if we expand on the activity of the dog owner playing with their dog, we might write:

  • Find time to play with dog — busy with work — worried
  • Give dog a choice of toys — dog has trouble choosing — bored
  • Play fetch with dog — dog only brings the toy back half the time — frustrated

Finally, you can choose one of these three steps to develop into a problem statement based on the following formula: A [user] who feels [negative feeling] about [reason] needs to [step] but faces [obstacle]. So using the example of a dog owner, you can write a problem statement like: A dog owner [user] who feels worried [negative feeling] about their dog staying engaged and happy [reason] needs to find time to play with him [step], but is too busy with work [obstacle]. This template is a good starting point for helping you think through your users’ problems and, ultimately, arrive at meaningful problem statements. 

4. Problem statement examples

A problem statement is a way to explain the problems users need your UX design to solve and why. However, if it’s too broad, it will leave too many possible solutions open, making it challenging to arrive at the best one. As a result, keep in mind when writing a problem statement that it should be broad enough to allow for creative thinking and innovative solutions, but narrow enough that it can provide a direction for that solution. 

That said, there is no one right way to create a problem statement. No matter how you reach your final problem statement, it should be user-focused, which means it should begin with identifying a user and their need and include an idea of why they require that need to be met.

Here are some good examples of problem statements.

Problem statement from the user’s point of view: This kind of problem statement names a specific user and explains what they need from their perspective.

  • I am a parent who wants to make sure my children don’t fall for scams on the internet, but I don’t know the best way to teach these skills because I can’t find high quality resources that explain the best way to do so, leaving me feeling uncertain.
  • I am a young professional who wants to exercise regularly but I spend long hours at the office so I usually can’t make it to a gym before it closes, which frustrates me.
  • I am a grandparent who wants to be able to easily see and talk to my grandchildren on a weekly basis, but I can’t because they don’t live nearby, which makes me feel lonely and disconnected.
  • I am a single young adult who just moved to a new city where I don’t know anyone and don’t know where to go to meet people and make friends. As a result, I feel isolated. 

Problem statements based on user research: This kind of problem statement pinpoints a group of users identified during user research and states what they need and why they need it.

  • Parents need a way to quickly and easily access high-quality information about teaching their kids how to avoid internet scams because currently it is hard to find resources about this topic, which leads to uncertainty.
  • Young professionals need a way to exercise regularly even though they work long hours, making it frustratingly difficult to get to the gym before it closes.
  • Grandparents need a way to easily see and speak with their grandchildren on a weekly basis even though they don’t live nearby so they won’t feel lonely and disconnected.
  • Single young adults who move to a new city where they don’t know anyone need to know where to go to meet people and make friends so they don’t feel isolated.

Problem statements based on the 4 Ws: This kind of problem statement uses the 4 Ws technique to create a statement that outlines who has the problem, what that problem is, and where they experience it, and then explains why your solution should deliver a specific user experience to solve the user’s problem. In order to encourage brainstorming in the next phase of the Design Thinking process, you can state the last part of this kind of problem statement in the form of a question.

  • A parent’s problem is that he wants to teach his kids how to avoid scams when they’re using the internet. How can we ensure he can get all the best resources on the topic he needs so he can avoid uncertainty?
  • A young professional’s problem is that she needs a way to exercise regularly even though the long hours she works make it difficult for her to get to the gym. How can we give her an alternative option for exercise that will require no gym equipment and allow her to work out in her own time and space so she won’t be frustrated when she can’t make it to the gym?
  • A grandparent’s problem is that they want to see and speak with their grandchildren on a weekly basis, but can’t do so in person because their grandchildren don’t live nearby. How can we give them a way to easily reach their grandchildren so this grandparent doesn’t feel lonely and disconnected from them?
  • A single young adult’s problem is that she doesn’t know anyone in the new city she just moved to. How can we help her figure out where to go to meet people and make friends so she doesn’t feel isolated?

Problem statements using the fill-in-the-blank approach: For this kind of problem statement you can simply fill in the blanks in one of the problem statement templates provided in the previous section, such as this one: [A user] needs [need] in order to accomplish [goal].

  • A parent of two needs to find high-quality resources in order to successfully teach his kids how to avoid internet scams.
  • A young professional who works long hours needs to find a way to work out outside a gym in order to fit in regular exercise.
  • A grandparent needs to easily see and speak with their grandchildren, who live too far away for them to see in person, in order to avoid feeling lonely and disconnected from them. 
  • A single young adult who just moved to a new city needs to figure out where to go to meet people so she can make friends and no longer feel isolated.

You’ve likely noticed that some of these problem statement examples focus on specific design issues that may make up only part of a larger project. If you are tackling a large project, you’ll likely want to create an overarching “umbrella” problem statement that articulates the project’s overall objective and additional problem statements for each component of the project. 

In addition, if a specific component of your project is especially complicated, you may want to create a “parent” problem statement that describes a general goal along with several “child” problem statements that set sub-goals. However, this doesn’t mean problem statements should be created haphazardly. You should only create as many problem statements as are necessary to define the scope of your project.

Now that you know how to write a UX problem statement, you might want to learn more. If so, you’ll find the following articles useful:

  • What is user research, and what’s its purpose?
  • What is the UX design process? A complete, actionable guide
  • What is product design?

Free Problem Statement Slide Templates: PowerPoint & Google Slides

By Kate Eby | February 24, 2024

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Write effective problem statements and create engaging presentations for stakeholders with this roundup of problem statement slide templates for PowerPoint and Google Slides. Download these free, customizable templates and edit them for your needs.

On this page, you’ll find a  project problem statement worksheet slide template , a  customer problem statement slide template , a  5 Ws product problem statement template , and more. You’ll also find tips for  writing problem statements and links to  related problem-solving templates .

Project Problem Statement Elements Slide Template

Project Problem Statement Elements Slide Template

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PowerPoint | Google Slides

When to Use This Template: This template is perfect for project managers and team leaders who need to articulate the challenges and objectives of a new initiative. It provides a structured format for presenting a project's problems and requirements during planning meetings or proposal presentations. The template is particularly useful in meetings where gaining consensus or approval from decision-makers is crucial.

Notable Template Features: The template breaks down the problem, scope, objectives, benefits, and resources into clear sections, making complicated information easy to understand. This focuses the discussion and ensures that all aspects of the problem are considered. The color-coded sections also help make your presentation clearer and more appealing to stakeholders.

Three-Part Problem Statement Slide Template

Three Part Problem Statement Slide Template

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When to Use This Template: Project managers or teams can use this template to clearly communicate challenges, proposed solutions, and expected results. It serves as a foundational tool for project planning and decision-making, helping teams effectively communicate critical issues to stakeholders and align efforts toward shared objectives.

Notable Template Features: This slide template helps guide the audience from problem identification to resolution and final outcomes. The bullet points under each category allow you to list key details and focus on what matters most.

Project Problem Statement Worksheet Slide Template

Project Problem Statement Worksheet Slide Template

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When to Use This Template:  This worksheet template is designed to clearly outline the central challenge of a new project or initiative. It provides a straightforward way to write a problem statement that is clear and actionable. Teams can use this tool at the outset of the planning stage to ensure that everyone understands the issues being addressed, the criteria for success, and the boundaries of the project.

Notable Template Features:  The template's comprehensive structure breaks down the problem statement into specific components, such as context, success criteria, stakeholders, and scope. This helps teams focus their discussions and ensure a shared understanding of the problem. Teams can also use this template in presentations to provide stakeholders with context for the problem statement.

Traffic Light Problem Statement Slide Template

Traffic Light Problem Statement Slide Template

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When to Use This Template: Project or product managers can use this template to present a clear problem statement in meetings or in documents. This template is particularly useful during the initial stages of project planning or when addressing project roadblocks.

Notable Template Features: The template includes sections for identifying a problem, how to solve it, and what the results should be. Each part corresponds to the colors in the traffic light graphic, which reinforces the importance of a careful approach to problem-solving.

Single-Problem Statement and Solution Slide Template

Single-Problem Statement and Solution Slide Template

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When to Use This Template: This template is ideal for project proposals, strategy meetings, or pitches where a clearly defined problem and solution can drive decision-making. The visual juxtaposition of problems versus solutions helps stakeholders quickly grasp the core issues and the strategy for resolution.

Notable Template Features: This template has a two-column layout that visually distinguishes challenges and solutions. Each section contains placeholders for text and icons, enhancing the presentation’s visual appeal. Icons such as question and check marks guide the audience from problem to solution.

Multiple-Problem Statement and Solution Slide Template

Multiple-Problem Statement and Solution Slide Template

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When to Use This Template:  Project or product managers can use this template in strategic planning sessions, problem-solving meetings, or any scenario where a clear comparative analysis is needed. The slide format, which shows each challenge next to its proposed solution, can be useful during team meetings where alignment on issues and remedies is crucial.

Notable Template Features:  This template has a two-column layout that guides the viewer from problems on the left to solutions on the right. Each problem and solution pair is clearly marked, making complex information more accessible for the audience.

Customer Problem Statement Slide Template

Customer Problem Statement Slide Template

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When to Use This Template:  Product managers and customer service teams can use this template to break down a customer's problem into tangible parts, clarifying the issue, the attempts to resolve it, the obstacles faced, and its emotional impact. This template is particularly effective for internal presentations that aim to align team members on customer pain points and drive home the urgency of finding a solution.

Notable Template Features:  The template provides a step-by-step layout that guides the presenter through the different aspects of a customer's dilemma. Color-coded sections make the narrative easy to follow through each step of the statement. This breakdown not only captures the complexity of the issue but also fosters a deeper understanding of the problem among team members.

Circular Customer Problem Statement Slide Template

Circular Customer Problem Statement Slide Template

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When to Use This Template:  Use this customer problem statement template to get a full picture of a customer's issue, from who the customer is to their goals, challenges, and emotional responses. It is ideal for sessions focused on understanding and addressing customer experiences, ensuring that teams explore every facet of the problem and link it back to the customer's perspective.

Notable Template Features:  This template features a circular flow that tells the whole story of the customer’s issue, with each segment prompting a key part of the problem. Its design encourages comprehensive analysis, and the arrangement of sections ensures that thoughts flow logically. You can also customize the template to focus on the workflow around the problem or other details rather than only the customer story.

Product Problem Statement Slide Template

Product Problem Statement Slide Template

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When to Use This Template: Product managers can use this template to clearly articulate the problem their product aims to solve. This serves as an essential tool during the initial stages of product development or when proposing enhancements to existing products. By structuring thoughts and research systematically, this template helps managers secure stakeholder buy-in and align cross-functional teams toward a common objective.

Notable Template Features: Each section prompts users to delve deeply into understanding the problem and its potential impacts, customer value, and business significance. The template allows you to link externally to supporting documentation to show that all claims and assumptions are backed by research. The template's simple structure helps to streamline the problem-solving process, while its thoroughness makes the problem statement more compelling.

5 Ws Product Problem Statement Slide Template

Five Ws Product Problem Statement Slide Template

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When to Use This Template: Product managers and teams can use this template to define and document the who, what, when, where, and why of a problem. This ensures that team members align on the problem before moving toward solutions, fostering a focused approach to product development.

Notable Template Features:  This template prompts users to consider all aspects of a problem statement: who it affects, what the problem is, when and where it occurs, and why it is critical to address. Each column uses color-coding and clear bullet points for organized note-taking.

How to Write a Problem Statement

A problem statement serves as the foundation for any project, ensuring that everyone involved understands the core of the problem they need to solve. Crafting a well-defined statement is crucial for guiding a team toward a solution efficiently. 

Follow these steps to create a compelling problem statement:  

  • Identify the Problem: Gather information about the issue through research, observations, or discussions with stakeholders. For customer problem statements, this might include using surveys or customer service calls to gather data on customer pain points. Use templates such as the 5 Ws to thoroughly understand the who, what, when, where, and why of the problem. 
  • Explain the Impact: Describe how the problem affects the organization, customers, or stakeholders. Provide data or examples to illustrate the extent of the problem's impact. 
  • Analyze the Cause: Investigate and identify the root causes of the problem. Understanding why the problem exists is crucial for finding an effective solution. Keep asking why and drilling down to the root cause to ensure that your problem statement describes the core problem rather than a symptom.
  • Set Objectives: Define what a successful solution would look like. Outline the desired outcome and what changes or improvements you aim to achieve. Use financial and other measurable data to illustrate the benefits of your proposed solution.
  • Specify Constraints and Requirements: Highlight any limitations — such as budget, time, or resources — that could impact the solution. Also, list any necessary criteria that the solution must meet, providing measurable benchmarks for success. 
  • Review and Refine: Once you draft the problem statement, review it to ensure clarity. The statement can be referenced throughout the project to keep work on track, but keep in mind that factors can change, impacting solutions and action plans. Be prepared to pivot as the project progresses.

The key to an effective problem statement lies in its clarity and precision. Keep it succinct, focused on the problem, and free of jargon to ensure that it's accessible to everyone involved. 

For more tools, see this complete collection of free problem statement templates.

How Do You Present a Problem Statement?

Presenting a problem statement is your opportunity to bring the problem to life, engage your audience, and set the stage for collaborative problem-solving. While a written problem statement can be as short as an elevator pitch, stakeholders need context to understand the significance of a problem and the reasoning behind any proposed solutions. 

Here are the elements to include in a problem statement presentation:  

  • State the Problem Clearly: Present the problem statement in a clear and concise manner. Use simple language to ensure that everyone understands the issue at hand.
  • Discuss Causes and Impact: Briefly introduce the background and relevance of the problem to your audience. Share your insights into the causes of the problem. This helps in building a common understanding of the problem's roots and complexity. Use data, anecdotes, or real-life examples to illustrate the significance of the problem and how it affects the organization, stakeholders, or customers.
  • Clarify Outcomes: Clearly state what you aim to achieve by solving the problem. Define the desired outcomes and success criteria to give your audience a clear idea of the direction you propose. Acknowledge any limitations or specific requirements that could influence the approach to solving the problem. This transparency helps in setting realistic expectations.
  • Invite Feedback: Encourage your audience to share their thoughts, questions, and suggestions. Foster an open dialogue to promote collaborative problem-solving.
  • Conclude With Next Steps: End your presentation by summarizing the key points and outlining next steps to ensure everyone leaves with a clear understanding of the problem and the actions required.

Keep your presentation focused, clear, and interactive to maximize understanding and participation. The goal is not only to present a problem but to motivate and guide your audience toward finding a solution together.

Related Problem-Solving Templates

Using problem-solving templates can transform complex challenges into manageable tasks, guiding you from analysis to actionable solutions. Download one of the problem-solving templates below to clearly define problems, identify root causes, and create more successful outcomes.

Root Cause Analysis Template

This  root cause analysis template provides a comprehensive report with a list of questions to help you identify the cause of an event or issue, identify actions already taken, and recommend preventative strategies.

how to make problem statement in case study

DMAIC Analysis Template

DMAIC stands for  define, measure, analyze, implement, and  control . This  DMAIC template takes you through this process of defining the problem, measuring its significance, analyzing factors contributing to the problem, identifying potential solutions, and planning to prevent a recurrence of the problem.

how to make problem statement in case study

5 Whys Template

The 5 Why process is a method for investigating the root cause of a problem by asking why the issue is occurring, then repeating the question until you get to the root cause. Download this  5 Whys template to evaluate a problem and determine corrective actions.

how to make problem statement in case study

Fishbone Diagram Template

Brainstorm the possible causes of an issue with a  fishbone diagram template. The diagram provides a visual tool for identifying cause-and-effect relationships and getting at the root of an issue.

Fishbone Diagram Template

Corrective Action Plan Template

Use this  corrective action plan template to identify problems, plan action steps to mitigate the issues, and track progress.

Sample Simple Corrective Action Plan Template

For more related templates, including a cause mapping template and an example report, see this full selection of  root cause analysis templates .

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Your Guide to Creating UX Problem Statements

Madison Zoey Vettorino

Published: February 27, 2024

You've run a feedback survey to gain actionable insight into what users enjoy — or don't — about your website or app. Now, it's time to fix the obstacles they report running into frequently. But wait: Before you do so, you should create a UX problem statement.

person looking at cell phone reading UX problem statement best practices.

I've seen first how detrimental it can be to enter the design process without giving adequate thought to your UX problem statement. If you do, you risk wasting time, money, energy, or completely missing the point. 

Download Our Free UX Research & Testing Kit

But don't panic: Creating a UX problem statement isn't too tricky. I'm here to walk you through everything you need to know about what it is, how to develop your own, and why you can't proceed without a UX problem statement. Lastly, I'll even share some examples that can help you start writing your own. 

What is a UX problem statement?

When to write a problem statement , how to use a ux problem statement .

How to Write a UX Problem Statement in Four Steps

Problem Statement Template

A UX problem statement is a brief description of the problem your team is solving for. It clearly outlines an issue or obstacle users face within your product or service. Typically, it will include information about the users who are experiencing the problem, additional context regarding when the problem occurs, and the consequential impact on user experience . (Psst: These 10 tips can help you improve your site UX quickly and efficiently .) 

The UX problem statement is widely considered a must-have because it forces designers to reflect on what went wrong in the original design and keeps the team solution-oriented. With a identified problem to hone in on, you can decide better how to tackle it. 

how to make problem statement in case study

Free UX Research Kit + Templates

3 templates for conducting user tests, summarizing your UX research, and presenting your findings.

  • User Testing Template
  • UX Research Testing Report Template
  • UX Research Presentation Template

You're all set!

Click this link to access this resource at any time.

The key to a successful UX problem statement is that you don't wait too long to write it. Because you will want to reference your problem statement throughout the design process, it's important that you have it easily accessible and, therefore, allow it to guide the decisions you will make. For instance, if your team waits to write a problem statement until it's done with building a high-fidelity prototype in Figma, it's already too late to make the most of it. 

Because of this, designers typically write a problem statement during the research or discovery phases of the process. This is also an ideal time to do so since you're already collecting insights about your users' needs and pain points. Therefore, by identifying the problem early, you can guarantee that all of your design efforts directly address the issue. 

I'd encourage you to consider your UX problem statement your "north star" as you iterate to solve for the user. By doing so, you can rest assured that you won't reflect on what you've created at the end of the process only to realize that it doesn't solve your users' problem at all. 

Influence your decisions throughout the design process.

Probably the most important thing your UX problem statement will do is help inform your team's decisions throughout the design process. Because everyone on the team will clearly understand exactly what needs to be accomplished, the statement will help ensure alignment and reinforce that all decisions made will be working towards fixing this issue. 

Inspire your team as you brainstorm. 

Have you ever heard the saying, "A problem well-defined is a problem half-solved?" This quote, typically attributed to John Dewey, is true in my experience. Your team may also find that with the problem well-defined, brainstorming is more seamless and efficient. 

Drive research. 

Does your team have more questions about the problem at hand? If so, you may consider digging deeper by asking follow-up questions or running a focus group. When you have an apparent problem, you can quickly figure out what pieces of the puzzle you are missing — and then do the research necessary to get them. 

Ensure a user-centered design. 

We've all used products that were created without a  user-centered approach to design . Yes, it does make that big of a difference! Using your UX problem statement, you can help bolster the chances of creating a product that feels user-centered to the people who matter most: Your users. 

How to Write a UX Problem Statement in 4 Steps

Writing a UX problem statement isn't too hard. The most important thing you can do is ensure you have all your information handy. If you do so, you should be able to write an effective UX problem statement in four simple steps. 

1. Ask yourself: Who is the user? 

Your first step is defining the users experiencing the issue. Does the problem span different personas, or is just one persona experiencing difficulty? Having an answer to this will help inform the way you tackle the problem. Plus, you'll have more insight into their behavior once you identify the subset of users experiencing the issue. 

2. Describe the problem concisely. 

This one's important! Your next step is to identify the problem clearly. The briefer, the better — but ensure you're articulating the issue correctly. For example, you may write that your users are experiencing frustration due to the main horizontal menu dropdown that disappears within two seconds, which is too quick for them to decide which dropdown option to select. 

3. Identify the impact it is having. 

Going with the example from earlier, are users unable to click the dropdown menu in enough time? Is it resulting in important pages that are going unseen simply because users can't access them? Examine the impact that this issue has on the user experience. This is crucial because it demonstrates why addressing the problem is paramount. 

4. Define your goals. 

This is your chance to clearly outline what you hope to achieve by reworking this feature. Don't be afraid to get specific. As a rule of thumb, your goals should be measurable and work to enhance the user experience. 

This isn't a step but a recommendation. I highly suggest you make your UX problem statement actionable. This helps ensure that you actually solve the problem at hand. 

Problem Statement Template 

To properly use this problem statement template, you'll need to gather the following: 

The  persona experiencing the issue 

The specific challenge they are facing

The context when the challenge occurs

The impact on their experience with the product 

Once you have these, you can plug them into the problem statement template. Here's one I like to use: 

" [INSERT PERSONA HERE] is facing [INSERT CHALLENGE HERE] when  [INSERT CONTEXT IN WHICH CHALLENGE OCCURS] , which is impacting their ability to [IMPACT OF THE CHALLENGE] ." 

You might want to experiment with your problem statement a few times to find one that's most effective. Keep in mind this is just a sample — you can tweak the phrasing to make it feel more intuitive to you. 

UX Problem Statement Example 

Going back to that earlier example I shared with you, I'll walk you through a UX problem statement example. 

Say you work for a graphic design agency, and one of your key personas is a content marketer who lands on your site to learn more about your design services. For the sake of this example, we'll call the persona 'Marketing Mary.' 

Marking Mary is experiencing frustration because the menu dropdown disappears within two seconds, which is too quick for Marketing Mary to decide which page she wants to select. Furthermore, those pages that are nestled within the dropdown and, therefore, inaccessible to the user, are garnering virtually no traffic. 

Here's what your UX problem statement may look like: 

"Marketing Mary is facing a menu dropdown challenge as the dropdown disappears within two seconds when she hovers over the site menu. This impacts her ability to navigate to the website's 'Contact' and 'Learn More' pages." 

My statement was getting long, so I broke it down into two sentences, which you're welcome to do. 

See? It's brief, clear, and demonstrates to the rest of the team exactly what they need to solve. 

Create a Meaningful UX Problem Statement

As long as you keep your UX problem concise and clear, you're going to do a great job writing one that helps your team solve whatever problem it is your users are facing. 

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Addressing the U.S. homelessness crisis

homeless tents under a bridge

February 29, 2024 – Between 2022 and 2023, the number of people experiencing homelessness in the U.S. jumped 12 percent—the largest yearly increase since the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) started collecting data in 2007.

“We’re in a crisis right now—let’s make no mistake about that,” said Jeff Olivet, executive director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, at February 22 virtual event co-sponsored by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Initiative on Health and Homelessness (IHH) . “Housing is a basic human right, just like food or water or a right to education, a right to health care—people need and should have access to affordable housing. And yet, we know we live in a country and in a world where that’s not always the case.”

Other co-sponsors of the event included the Harvard Joint Center on Housing Studies, the Harvard Kennedy School Government Performance Lab, and the Harvard Advanced Leadership Initiative.

Howard Koh , Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of the Practice of Public Health Leadership and IHH faculty chair, served as moderator.

A multi-system failure

The homelessness crisis is driven by challenges across multiple systems, according to Olivet, who discussed key findings from the HUD 2023 Annual Homeless Assessment Report . Not only is there a shortage of affordable housing, but many people also have trouble accessing physical and mental health care, education, and public transportation.

“When you look at all of those factors, it’s no wonder that we have millions of Americans who experience homelessness,” he said.

Olivet noted that during the first couple of years of the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government instituted eviction moratoriums and provided emergency housing vouchers, but these protections and resources have since ended.

However, Olivet also highlighted a success: With bipartisan support from Congress, the number of veterans experiencing homelessness has decreased by more than 50 percent over the last decade and a half.

“It gives us a proof point that when we invest in housing and wraparound health care, that we know how to end homelessness,” he said. “The question is, how do we apply that to other populations? That’s going to take additional resources.”

Collaborative efforts

In addition to the factors that Olivet mentioned, the number of people experiencing homelessness is increasing due to an influx of immigrants from the Mexico–U.S. border, according to speaker Beth Horwitz, vice president of strategy and innovation at All Chicago Making Homelessness History. The nonprofit coordinates the efforts of organizations across the city, as well as government resources, to serve the different needs of the homeless population.

“We found that when we centralize and coordinate resources, we have the greatest impact,” she said.

Horwitz said that All Chicago expanded its efforts during the pandemic by leveraging resources from the federal government.

She added, “We’re seeing increased investments from state and local government to help us continue to serve even more people, so that we can become a country where housing is a human right, and everyone has access to safe and affordable housing,” she said.

Photo: iStock/Brett Wiatre

Trump's claims of a migrant crime wave are not supported by national data

Donald Trump

WASHINGTON — When Donald Trump speaks at the southern border in Texas on Thursday, you can expect to hear him talk about “migrant crime,” a category he has coined and defined as a terrifying binge of criminal activity committed by undocumented immigrants spreading across the country.

“You know, in New York, what’s happening with crime is it’s through the roof, and it’s called ‘migrant,’” the former president said at a rally in Michigan earlier this month. “They beat up police officers. You’ve seen that they go in, they stab people, hurt people, shoot people. It’s a whole new form, and they have gangs now that are making our gangs look like small potatoes.”

Trump has undoubtedly tapped into the rising anger over crimes allegedly committed by undocumented migrants that have gained national attention — most recently, the killing of college student Laken Riley in Georgia last week, after which an undocumented migrant from Venezuela was arrested and charged with her murder, and the much-reported fight between New York police officers and a group of migrant teens.

According to a recent Pew  poll , 57% of Americans said that a large number of migrants seeking to enter the country leads to more crime. Republicans (85%) overwhelmingly say the migrant surge leads to increased crime in the U.S. A far smaller share of Democrats (31%) say the same. The poll found that 63% of Democrats say it does not have much of an impact.

But despite the former president’s campaign rhetoric, expert analysis and available data from major-city police departments show that despite several horrifying high-profile incidents, there is no evidence of a migrant-driven crime wave in the United States.

That won’t change the way Trump talks about immigrants in his bid to return to the White House, as he argues that President Joe Biden’s immigration policies are making Americans less safe. Trump says voters should hold Biden personally responsible for every crime committed by an undocumented immigrant.

An NBC News review of available 2024 crime data from the cities targeted by Texas’ “Operation Lone Star,” which buses or flies migrants from the border to major cities in the interior — shows overall crime levels dropping in those cities that have received the most migrants.

Overall crime is down year over year in  Philadelphia ,  Chicago , Denver ,  New York  and Los Angeles. Crime has risen in  Washington, D.C ., but local officials do not attribute the spike to migrants.

“This is a public perception problem. It’s always based upon these kinds of flashpoint events where an immigrant commits a crime,” explains Graham Ousey, a professor at the College of William & Mary and the co-author of “Immigration and Crime: Taking Stock.” “There’s no evidence for there being any relationship between somebody’s immigrant status and their involvement in crime.”

Ousey notes the emotional toll these incidents have taken and how they can inform public perception, saying, “They can be really egregious acts of criminality that really draw lots of attention that involve somebody who happens to be an immigrant. And if you have leaders, political leaders who are really pushing that narrative, I think that would have the tendency to sort of push up the myth.”

“At least a couple of recent studies show that undocumented immigrants are also not more likely to be involved in crime,” Ousey says — in part because of caution about their immigration status. “The individual-level studies actually show that they’re less involved than native-born citizens or second-generation immigrants.”

Another misconception often cited by critics is that crime is more prevalent in “sanctuary cities.” But a Department of Justice report found that “there was no evidence that the percentage of unauthorized or authorized immigrant population at the city level impacted shifts in the homicide rates and no evidence that immigration is connected to robbery at the city level.”

Trump’s campaign claims without evidence that those statistics obscure the problem.

“Democrat cities purposefully do not document when crimes are committed by illegal immigrants, because they don’t want American citizens to know the truth about the dangerous impact Joe Biden’s open border is having on their communities,” Karoline Leavitt, Trump campaign press secretary, said in a statement. “Nevertheless, Americans know migrant crime is a serious and growing threat; and the murder, rape, or abuse of one innocent citizen at the hands of an illegal immigrant is one too many.”

Trump has been pushing the argument that immigrants bring crime since launching his first campaign in 2015, often featuring at his rallies the family members of those who were killed by undocumented immigrants who had been drinking and driving. And his arguments are not new — opponents of immigration have long tried to make the case that migrants bring crime.

National crime data, especially pertaining to undocumented immigrants, is notoriously incomplete. The national data comes in piecemeal and can only be evaluated holistically when the annual data is released.

The data is incomplete on how many crimes each year are committed by migrants, primarily because most local police don’t record immigration status when they make arrests. But the studies that have been done on this, most recently by the University of Wisconsin-Madison, show that in Texas, where police do record immigration status, migrants commit fewer crimes per capita.

In December 2020, researchers studying Texas crime statistics found that “contrary to public perception, we observe considerably lower felony arrest rates among undocumented immigrants compared to legal immigrants and native-born U.S. citizens and find no evidence that undocumented criminality has increased in recent years.”

Olympia Sonnier is a field producer for NBC News. 

how to make problem statement in case study

Garrett Haake is NBC News' Senior Capitol Hill Correspondent. He also covers the Trump campaign.

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  1. How to Write a Problem Statement

    Step 3: Set your aims and objectives. Finally, the problem statement should frame how you intend to address the problem. Your goal here should not be to find a conclusive solution, but rather to propose more effective approaches to tackling or understanding it. The research aim is the overall purpose of your research.

  2. How to Write a Problem Statement (With 3 Examples)

    Gather data and observe. Use data from research and reports, as well as facts from direct observation to answer the five Ws: who, what, when, where, and why. Whenever possible, get out in the field and talk directly with stakeholders impacted by the problem. Get a firsthand look at the work environment and equipment.

  3. How To Write a Problem Statement (With an Example)

    What not to include in a problem statement. Here are a few final tips to keep in mind of things to avoid when writing your problem statement: 1. Don't use complicated language, make it simple to follow. 2. Don't refer to other similar problems, keep the focus on your problem. 3.

  4. What is a Problem Statement? [with examples]

    1. Begin with a clear indication that the problem statement is going to be discussed next. You can start with a generic sentence like, "The problem that this study addresses…". This will inform your readers of what to expect next. 2. Next, mention the consequences of not solving the problem.

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    The problem statement serves as a beacon, outlining the user's needs and highlighting the far-reaching implications of the challenge for the organization. Integrating the Problem Statement into the UX Case Study. In the tapestry of a UX case study, the problem statement finds its place within the introduction.

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    3 Explain the problem and why it matters. With a clear, multi-angled picture of the problem, you're ready to write a professional problem statement that articulates the situation at hand. In this step, present the information in a logical order: State the problem, the reason (or reasons) it's a problem, and thus, why it needs to be fixed.

  7. Do Your Students Know How to Analyze a Case—Really?

    Best, worst, and most likely scenarios can also be insightful. Step 5: Decision. Students propose their solution to the problem. This decision is justified based on an in-depth analysis. Explain why the recommendation made is the best fit for the criteria. Step 6: Implementation plan.

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    A problem statement concisely describes a specific issue or problem that a written case study aims to address. It sets the stage for the rest of the case study and provides context for the reader. Here are some steps to help you write a case study problem statement: Identify the problem or issue that the case study will focus on.

  9. Writing a Case Study

    The purpose of a paper in the social sciences designed around a case study is to thoroughly investigate a subject of analysis in order to reveal a new understanding about the research problem and, in so doing, contributing new knowledge to what is already known from previous studies. In applied social sciences disciplines [e.g., education, social work, public administration, etc.], case ...

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    The format of a problem statement. When you write your problem statement, split it into four sections: Problem: Here, simply define what your problem is, clearly and concisely. Make it no longer than one or two sentences. Background: This is the section where you can describe what causes the problem, how often it occurs, where and when it ...

  11. Writing a Case Study Analysis

    Identify the key problems and issues in the case study. Formulate and include a thesis statement, summarizing the outcome of your analysis in 1-2 sentences. Background. Set the scene: background information, relevant facts, and the most important issues. Demonstrate that you have researched the problems in this case study. Evaluation of the Case

  12. How to Write Problem Statements You'll Actually Use

    2. Draft the problem statement. Now it's time to start writing out a statement that is as clear and comprehensive as possible. As you do this, be aware of how you are framing the problem. You want to be careful to avoid any bias and to remain completely objective. Potential issues to look out for include:

  13. How to Build a Compelling Problem Statement (+Case Study)

    Here's a case study on that, below. ‍ [Case Study] "My board definitely needs to see this." The breakthrough that let one my past sales teams cross the chasm from $500K, to $5M, in ARR was the process for enabling our champions with a can't-ignore problem statement. Here's the full story. Creating Context

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    A problem statement should include absolute or relative measures of the problem that quantify that gap, but should not include possible causes or solutions! Key elements of an effective problem statement include: Gap: Identify the gap (pain) that exists today. Timeframe, location and trend: Describe when and where the problem was first observed ...

  15. How to Write a Problem Statement in Four Easy Steps

    Good research begins with writing a problem statement. Sometimes this is called identifying a research gap. The problem statement captures a narrow issue and...

  16. Problem Statements in UX Discovery

    August 22, 2021. Summary: In the discovery phase of a UX project, a problem statement is used to identify and frame the problem to be explored and solved, as well as to communicate the discovery's scope and focus. Running discoveries can be challenging. Many teams start discovery research with little direction as to what problem they want to ...

  17. How to Write a Case Study: from Outline to Examples

    Explain what you will examine in the case study. Write an overview of the field you're researching. Make a thesis statement and sum up the results of your observation in a maximum of 2 sentences. Background. Provide background information and the most relevant facts. Isolate the issues.

  18. How to write a problem statement: Template and examples

    The Jobs-to-be-Done (JTBD) Framework. Problem statement template. Examples of realistic problem statements. Conclusion. In your time as a product manager, it is likely that you and your team will face many different customer pain points, needs, and opportunities. Problems (and the reasons why they occur) always seem to be never ending ...

  19. How to Write and Present a Case Study (+Examples)

    The above information should nicely fit in several paragraphs or 2-3 case study template slides. 2. Explain the Solution. The bulk of your case study copy and presentation slides should focus on the provided solution (s). This is the time to speak at length about how the subject went from before to the glorious after.

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    Executive Summary. The executive summary of the case study is a one-page summary of the whole report that focuses on the important features. It is typically included at the beginning of a case study, before the main material. The issue statement, measures to be taken to solve the problem, supporting evidence, and the conclusions should all be included in the executive summary of the case study.

  21. Writing problem statements in UX: Definition, example, template

    Components of an effective problem statement: A case study. There is no silver bullet for how to craft an effective problem statement. Various companies, designers, and managers approach it slightly differently. ... Click on File, and then Make a copy to create your UX problem statement. Closing thoughts. I won't lie to you: crafting a solid ...

  22. How to write a case study

    1. Identify your goal. Start by defining exactly who your case study will be designed to help. Case studies are about specific instances where a company works with a customer to achieve a goal. Identify which customers are likely to have these goals, as well as other needs the story should cover to appeal to them.

  23. What Is a Problem Statement in UX? (And How To Write One)

    A problem statement sums up the user pain-point or problem you'll seek to solve with your design. A problem statement is an actionable summary of your user, their goals, and what you need to solve to meet those goals. It sets the course for your project's user experience; however, it shouldn't include anything about the design elements or ...

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    Presenting a problem statement is your opportunity to bring the problem to life, engage your audience, and set the stage for collaborative problem-solving. While a written problem statement can be as short as an elevator pitch, stakeholders need context to understand the significance of a problem and the reasoning behind any proposed solutions.

  25. Your Guide to Creating UX Problem Statements

    This isn't a step but a recommendation. I highly suggest you make your UX problem statement actionable. This helps ensure that you actually solve the problem at hand. Problem Statement Template . To properly use this problem statement template, you'll need to gather the following: The persona experiencing the issue . The specific challenge they ...

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  27. Trump's claims of a migrant crime wave are not supported by ...

    The data is incomplete on how many crimes each year are committed by migrants, primarily because most local police don't record immigration status when they make arrests. But the studies that ...