Home / Letters & Templates / How to Write a Problem Statement

How to Write a Problem Statement

Companies value employees who take the initiative to solve problems independently. When you’ve identified a problem within your role or department, you can take the first step toward resolving it–and demonstrating your value to your superiors–by writing a problem statement.

What is a problem statement?

A problem statement clearly outlines a problem impeding workflows or otherwise creating a roadblock to progress. It explains the issue, identifies the desired outcome, and proposes a plan of attack to reach that outcome.

The subject of a problem statement can be internal to your workplace, like a software quirk that requires you to repeat the same task twice or something specific to your product, like a common customer complaint that you could solve to increase business.

A problem statement is objective, focusing on the facts of the matter. It should be easy to read and should be written with a general audience rather than a technically specialized one in mind.

Why it’s important to send a problem statement

A problem statement demonstrates resourcefulness and leadership. 

Running into challenges is a routine part of work. Writing a timely problem statement demonstrates your problem-solving capabilities and shows that you don’t need to be told what to do when an issue arises. Instead, you can be trusted to take action on your own. 

Writing a problem statement also keeps your boss and any important stakeholders in the loop. 

They may not know about every problem that exists for the company and its customers. Your letter brings important matters to leadership’s attention and gets their blessing on your plan before you take action on it.

When should you send a problem statement letter

To document the problem

In addition to setting the wheels in motion to solve the problem, a formal statement also creates a record of the issue. This may be important in establishing a timeline and can be useful to refer back to if similar problems arise in the future.

Before sending a complaint up the chain of command, you should do what you can to resolve the problem on your own first. In the example above, you might have a sit-down conversation with Tim explaining how his lateness makes it impossible for you to uphold your agreed-upon schedule. This way, when you do bring an issue to your boss’s attention, they can feel confident it’s truly an issue, and you’re not just taking up their time with petty workplace drama.

To communicate your intended plan

Your statement communicates your awareness of the problem and the fact that there’s a resolution in the works. It lets all relevant parties know what you will be doing and when so you can get the green light to move forward.

To set clear expectations

A problem statement keeps everyone on the same page about the intended resolution and the scope of work necessary to arrive at that point. This can be helpful when setting project timelines, developing budgets, and conducting other planning activities. 

What to include in a problem statement

An explanation of the problem

Cover the who, what, where, when, and why. Be thorough yet succinct, and stick to the facts.

The impact of the problem

Explain why the problem matters, like how it’s affecting work processes or costing the company time or money. Give examples to illustrate the problem, attaching reference materials if available.

Your proposed solution

Outline the steps you propose to take to resolve the problem. Include the timeline and any other important details, as well as what the end result will be.

Support for your solution

In addition to sharing your proposed fix, you also want to explain why it will work. What makes you think this is the best course of action?

What you should omit

  • Your personal feelings. This should be an objective letter, so avoid expressing frustration, assigning blame, or inserting your feelings into the document. 
  • Too much technical detail. Keep it simple and focus on the big picture. Save in-depth explanations and discussions for follow-up messages or meetings.

Sample problem statement letter


Currently, clients who make an appointment over the phone have a 40% no-show rate, which is very high for our industry. This starkly contrasts those using digital methods like text and our website to schedule appointments. These customers have a much lower no-show rate of around 10%. 


No-show appointments negatively impact the business in a variety of ways. First, the lost revenue results directly from the canceled appointments. 

Second, there is productivity loss that occurs when a scheduled employee suddenly has an unexpected gap in their workflow. This time can be filled in part with evergreen tasks like cleaning and restocking supplies, but ideally, it’s best to avoid having employees on the clock when they’re not servicing a client. 

Finally, no-show appointments hurt business by taking away time slots that could have been given to other customers. We’re currently booking appointments about three weeks out; this wait time could be shortened by reducing the number of no-show appointments. 


The proposed solution is twofold: 1) change our workflow for scheduling phone appointments, and 2) institute a no-show fee.

The first part of the proposed solution is to gather an email address and/or mobile phone number from all phone schedulers. Then, that data will be manually entered into our website scheduling tool. This will ensure that the customer receives automated appointment reminders that already go out to text and website schedulers, which should reduce the incidence of no-shows. 

The second part of the solution is to implement a no-show fee of 50% of the scheduled service cost for clients who miss their appointments without giving any notice. Of course, things come up, and people sometimes have to miss their scheduled appointments, which we fully understand. This fee would only be charged to no-shows customers without attempting to notify us. This would act as a deterrent and help recoup some of the revenue loss from no-shows. 

This two-part solution is ideal because it can be implemented immediately with little to no cost and without impacting existing customers who are already keeping their scheduled appointments.