How to Write a Good Problem Statement: All Secrets Revealed

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Writing a business problem statement is one of the assignments you will encounter during your college journey. It tests your ability to observe real-life problems and formulate practical solutions in the easiest possible form. A problem statement can address challenges in any area of life.

A good problem statement requires you to understand the problem at hand, needs in-depth research, and shows how you intend to solve the challenge. A vibrant problem statement clearly describes the problem that made you research and must be relevant to its target readers. It’s also a chance to explain why you care and what you suggest to do by researching the problem.

This statement is also useful for communicating to teams or individuals to help them define, understand, and resolve pending problems. The statement is relevant for projects that seek to enhance processes because it allows easier solution development.

But how do you write a compelling problem statement that shows you are a part of the solution? This post examines all the relevant details surrounding this assignment’s drafting. Keep reading to understand how to draft and improve your next assignment.

What Is a Problem Statement?

We start by defining a problem statement before delving into the greater details of composing it. As its name suggests, a problem statement is a statement of a current challenge that needs timely intervention to improve or remedy a situation. The statement clearly explains the barrier between the optimal condition of affairs and the current problematic state.

Moreover, it must be objective and focus only on the facts of the problem, excluding all subjective opinions. It must be brief and exclude your research’s findings or elaborate data. On average, you should keep your statement under one page, bringing it between 200 and 270 words. Remember, the statement’s purpose is to summarize the current information and where the lack of knowledge may be causing challenges that require investigation.

So, where can this statement be needed? Problem statements are common in business. The statement is usually the first step businesses take to improve processes or products. In such cases, the statement is usually a stand-alone document.

When written in academic research, it can help students contextualize and understand the value of your research problem. It can often be several paragraphs long and become your research proposal’s basis. You may also condense it into a few sentences in your introduction.

Thus, this statement will look different depending on whether you write it about a pragmatic real-life problem or a theoretical issue. Regardless of their type, all problem statements follow a similar process.

Inspiring Problem Statement Examples

So, how does a problem statement look in the real world? Below are three examples addressing different issues. We hope these problem statement examples will inspire you to sharpen your writing skills.

Example 1: Customer Service

The Ideal Condition

Our clients must enjoy a support response within 3 hours of submitting requests.

The Reality on the Ground

Our support staff struggles to cope with customer requests because of an inefficient email system. Consequently, client requests are disorganized, and customer support executives spend a long time searching through previous emails to support users.

Moreover, some valid support requests end up in spam. This situation is problematic because customer support staff are wasting time navigating the system. Results? Our clients are waiting too long to receive support. We are also wasting money and receiving poor user ratings.

Ramifications

  • 90% of negative user ratings cite slow support responses.
  • Our average customer rating has dropped from 4.5 stars to 3.0 stars, making our higher-rated competitors more attractive to customers.
  • As our business has increased, our average support response time has risen from 6 hours to 20 hours.
  • Our customer support agents spend 600 hours yearly searching through support emails, wasting $12,000 in payroll expenses (600 hours X $20/hour average wage).

Proposal

Designate our in-house IT department to research and evaluate possible solutions for enhancing or replacing our email support system to minimize response times.

Example 2: Education

The Ideal Situation

Parents should access student school schedules online. 

Reality on the Ground

Our school lacks an online portal for parents to view their children’s schedules. Consequently, parents make many unnecessary phone calls to the school office and waste time administrative staff must spend looking up and releasing schedules. This challenge has reduced productivity, and our employees can’t fully perform their administrative duties.

Ramifications

  • The administrative staff spends 300 hours annually searching for student schedules, resulting in $6,000 in yearly waste (300 hours X $20/hour).
  • Parents are frustrated because they can’t independently look up their children’s schedules.
  • Workers can’t do their administrative work effectively, necessitating costly overtime.

Proposal

The school’s administrative staff should partner with the IT department to investigate the possibility and costs of placing student schedules online.

Example 3: Water Shortage in Rural Areas

Below is a more simplified problem statement.

“Limited access to clean water in villages in developing nations is increasing waterborne diseases and hindering socio-economic development.”

This simple statement clearly identifies a particular challenge—limited access to clean water. It also highlights its negative consequences—increased waterborne diseases and a lack of socio-economic development. Focusing on the problem in this way provides a clear and concise basis for any potential solutions. Moreover, it underscores the problem’s urgency and the need for action. This simplicity and clarity make it more likely to inspire action and generate interest from relevant stakeholders.

How to Start a Problem Statement?

Now, you understand what a problem statement is and have read excellent examples to inspire you. But how do you start and write it? This section examines the process of drafting this statement.

Answer the Five W’s

You must begin your statement by addressing the five W’s that focus on the problem’s core elements, namely:

  • What is the problem?
  • Where is it happening?
  • Why is it occurring?
  • Who is it affecting?
  • When does it cause challenges?

Answering these fundamental questions offers a more thorough outlook of the problem. Also, this approach makes writing the statement easier.

Describe the Ideal Situation

Next, describe the ideal scenario that shows what reality would exist if the problem wasn’t there. This way, you can easily underscore the causes, details, and possible consequences of the problem you might have overlooked. This ideal situation’s components can spill over into your statement.

Explain the Challenge and Its Significance

In this stage, you articulate the pending situation by presenting the information logically. It will state the problem, its cause or causes, and why it must be solved.

Explore the Problem’s Implications

This stage explains the problem’s significance and implications. It shows who it affects and how it affects them negatively—financially or otherwise. For instance, you can show an enterprise’s dependence on outdated applications costs money for recurring repairs or reduces staff’s overall productivity.

Support Your Claim With Facts

Lastly, support your claims with the necessary facts and stats. Otherwise, readers will have little reason to fund your research proposal or support the adjustments you claim could solve the issue.

How to Structure a Problem Statement

Whether you are writing a problem statement for science or business, you should pay attention to its structure. Problem statements usually assume the following format based on their sections.

  1. Problem. Your problem statement has a problem section that clearly defines the problem. This opening statement should be one or two sentences long. You should get this section correctly because the entire document hinges on it—causes, implications, and solution proposals.
  2. Background. A good statement also has a background section that describes the problem’s cause, how often it occurs, where it happens, and who the challenge negatively affects.
  3. Relevance. Your statement must clarify how significant the problem is. You may support your claims using data, but concluding with the impact of not solving the problem helps stakeholders see the urgency of solving the challenge and investigating it further.
  4. Objectives. Your statement’s objectives section doesn’t need many details. However, you need to show a short plan for investigating the issue and how it would help you formulate solutions. You may also propose possible solutions and the benefits of adopting them.
  5. Methodology. Sometimes, you might need a short methodology to help readers understand if the applied investigation methods and solutions are ideal. If possible, depending on your research’s stage, you can include your methodology behind the research. This way, your readers can get an idea of the approach that needs to be taken to resolve the issue.

How to End a Problem Statement?

How you end your statement is important. This closing section can make or break your document. It’s the best place to cement the importance of your statement. You should keep this section to a few sentences to allow the relevant stakeholders to see the consequences of not solving this problem. This way, stakeholders will be more likely to act on your suggested solutions.

Problem Statement Outline

Your problem statement for a project needs to follow a clear outline that gives it a logical flow and transition between different sections. The core elements include the following:

  • A definition — Your statement begins with a clear description of the issue that states the current situation and why it is a problem.
  • Context — The context provides the problem’s background and allows for a wider understanding of the situation and its ramifications.
  • Scope — Your statement’s scope outlines the challenge’s boundaries and indicates what or who it affects and its extent.
  • Impact — The statement’s impact explains the problem’s significance and possible ramifications. This step sometimes requires a detailed risk assessment.
  • Desired Outcomes — This section defines the ideal outcomes of resolving the challenge and sets a clear target for the solution process.

Problem Statement Introduction

Your problem statement’s introduction is vital. You have to draft it carefully because it sets the pace for your statement’s success or failure. Your introduction should show the problem and its cause. If you don’t know the cause or causes, you shouldn’t try to point it out by assuming or assigning blame. Instead, simply state what’s happening.

Problem Statement Body

After introducing the challenge, you will need to discuss the people or an organization’s products/processes the problem affects, how it affects them, and to what extent. Your body part shows the possible solutions to the problem at hand and the consequences of not solving the challenge.

Problem Statement Conclusion

Now, you have presented the ideal vision of an organization, identified the challenge that prevents it from achieving this ideal, and suggested solutions. So far, you are almost done, and you only need to conclude with a summary of your core arguments that let you wrap up your work.

You don’t need to write a long conclusion. Instead, you only have to state it in a few short sentences to show the basic gist of what you described in your statement and the approach you intend to take in the document’s body. You must also mention the possible consequences of not solving the problem at hand.

Below is an example of a conclusion:

Optimizing and replacing our current emailing system is vital for the continued competitiveness of the business. In this proposal, the suggested changes to this system are a big step to improving our customer experience quality and making us more competitive.

This section summarizes the statement’s main point— that the emailing system is defective and slow, and replacing it with a new one is the best way to improve customer service.

Closing Remarks

A problem statement is a vital document that helps organizations diagnose problems and suggest potential solutions. Writing an assignment on this topic is a great way to sharpen your problem-solving skills. It prepares you to face and resolve real-life challenges in different sectors you might find yourself in after your graduation.

We shared all the facts you need to compose a good problem statement for a project. It’s up to you to use them to improve your writing skills in this area.

Written by:
Abby Walter
I struggled a lot with academic texts as a student. Not only writing but also reading and interpreting them. I joined a course on academic writing offered by the university library, and everything changed. Luckily, you don’t have to attend offline workshops to become better at academic writing. I genuinely believe that our database can help you instead.
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