A problem statement is one or two sentences that describe the problem your product or service is trying to address. The problem statement should outline why the problem is an issue, as well as identify the impact of the problem.

The key to a good problem statement is specificity. The problem statement should:

  1. clearly and succinctly outline the problem;
  2. identify only one problem;
  3. be no more than one or two sentences; and
  4. should not provide a solution to the problem. 

A framework that can be used to draft a problem statement is the 5 W’s Framework: WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE and WHY


Who is impacted by the problem?

What happens when the problem occurs?

When does the problem occur?

Where does the problem occur?

Why does the problem occur?

A Problem Statement Example

Below is an example describing a problem statement, description and associated risk for a highly manual business process that can easily be resolved with technology.

Problem Statement: Intensive manual processing due to physical handling of paperwork.

Description: Annual leave forms are typically filled out by the Employee, printed, sent to the Manager/Delegate for approval, sent to Human Resources for verification and data entry, scanned and uploaded to the DBMS system, and then sent to Payroll for (re) data entry.

Risk: This highly manual scenario leads to ‘bottlenecks’ in service delivery and promotes the risk of poor organizational response to business and lost time that should be spent carrying out core business.

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