5W2H: what is this management tool and how to apply it?


5W2H: what is this management tool and how to apply it?

What is 5W2H?

The 5W2H methodology exists for those who are concerned about managing their business better every day.

At first glance it might seem like a strange term – two letters and two numbers together doesn’t explain much, does it?

But despite the apparent complexity, understanding what 5W2H is extremely simple.

More than understanding its concept, mastering its application is in line with what is in terms of best practices when we talk about management.

And that’s something that certainly interests you.

So, I bring you good news: it doesn’t matter the size of your company. If she is micro, small, medium or large, she can apply this methodology to improve processes.

In this article, we will talk about the concept of 5W2H, addressing the meaning of the acronym.

We’ll also talk about how this spreadsheet can be put together and what benefits it brings to companies,

Let’s check it out?

Good reading!

What is 5W2H?

We can understand this methodology as a checklist of activities to be developed by all teams within organizations.

This list of items is actually a mapping of what needs to be done.

But, it goes beyond that. It talks about where it will be done; who will be responsible; who will do each activity; how long will this last; which areas will be involved; why to perform these actions.

In addition, the methodology makes recording how this activity will be carried out and the costs of these operations.

Everything needs to be registered for the tool to be really useful for companies.

Only then can any and all doubts about processes or activities be immediately resolved.

And this is essential for the operations of any business. After all, increasing productivity while reducing errors is the ideal scenario pursued, right?

That’s exactly what the 5W2H tool works on.

To eliminate the smallest of errors that may, later on, be reflected in a major problem for the company.

A neglected point. An action is done in half. Something did non-standard. It does not matter.

The details make all the difference – for better or for worse.

What does the acronym mean?

Despite the easy understanding, we need to unravel the meaning of the acronym 5W2H.

As you can already imagine, the letters are words in English – even because the use of W is not very common in the Portuguese language.

They represent, then:

  1. What – what?
  2. Where – where?
  3.  Why – why?
  4. When – when?
  5. Who – who?

The letter “H” means:

  1. How – how?
  2. How much – how much?

Easy, right?

5W2H: why use and what are the advantages?

Among so many benefits, the use of this methodology is a powerful ally to make processes within companies much less complicated.

We can understand it as an “investment” in the future to keep the business healthy and in continuous growth.

Not least because it is essential to have a strategic plan that positively impacts the company’s routine.

This method meets that.

It helps managers to make a much more assertive decision with a clear scenario and context in front of them.

And it’s also a powerful tool for further performance evaluation of employees’ work.

But, not only companies can benefit from this analysis.

You can, for example, make it into your personal life.

For household activities with the family, for example. It would help everyone to share their responsibilities equally, how about that?

Whether at work or at home, it doesn’t matter.

This is a method that makes the whole scenario much more visible.

It leaves the panorama wide and clear so that everyone can carry out their activities in the best possible way.

Think about this for all areas of your business. Sales, HR, marketing, the administrative, financial sector.

Assertive work. Faster processes and people producing more in less time. That’s what you want for your business.

Who can use it?

The great virtue of this methodology is the fact that it is completely democratic – as mentioned above.

In addition to being able to use it outside the corporate environment, companies of any size can (and should!) apply it.

Even better.

It does not require any prior knowledge of any other method. Although the 5S methodology complements the application of the 5W2H analysis well.

All you need is to understand well the context in which it will be applied.

Know what resources (time, people, and money) are available to be able to fill out the table or spreadsheet in the best way possible.

But basically this is it: if there is something to be resolved, then the methodology can be applied, yes.

The 5W2H in practice: how to apply the methodology?

Now that you have mastered the concept of the methodology, let’s go to an example to make things even clearer?

Let’s assume that your company has a problem in the sales sector – whatever its nature.

It can be big or small, it doesn’t matter. It needs to be resolved and, for that, there are steps to be taken.

Don’t forget to also define the goals and objectives to be achieved with the solution of the issues.

Although there is no start order, it is common to start with “What” and create it in spreadsheet format.

That said, let’s go to the application:


The first question is: what is it that needs to be done?

Since the problem is in the commercial sector, you must respond.

Do you need to increase sales? Raise the average ticket of the negotiations, selling the most advanced plan?

No matter what the demand is, make it clear and straightforward for everyone involved.

Anyone working directly on this issue needs to read it and immediately understand what the focus is.


The second question is: why is this important and needs to be done?

Since you’ve just defined the problem, it’s time to justify its importance.

Why is it necessary to increase sales? Or why the company needs to increase the average ticket?

Is it to have more cash on hand? To be able to recover losses?

Whatever the reasons, put them honestly, clearly. Even though there are several reasons.

This will arouse a sense of urgency and engagement in the company’s sales force.

From the moment they understand the reasons.

When they see how important it is to successfully fulfil this mission, they will undoubtedly work much more focused and assertively to resolve this issue.

Convince people that this is critical for the right reasons. Truly showing the reasons.

Open the game if you have to.

The commercial manager needs his teams all united around this task.


Why? One of the W of the 5W2H

The third question is: where will this be done?

As we are talking about getting better results in sales, then it is in the commercial sector that this will happen.

But, detail even more. Is the sales model inside sales? So say the “where” is within the company.

Is the model field sales? Then map the salespeople’s locations to fill this gap in the 5W2H methodology.

Don’t forget to play anywhere – even if the list gets huge.

Remember what we said at the very beginning of the text? Details make a difference for good but also for evil.


The fourth question is: Who will be responsible?

It can be one or more people, it doesn’t matter. Now is the time for those who will be on the front lines to resolve the dilemma.

Do this by assigning tasks to those who are truly competent to do them.

Since we are talking about sales, we need to think about the process as a whole.

  • If lead generation falls short, then involve the marketing team in the mission;
  • If leads are being poorly qualified at the time of sale, list the pre-sales team here;
  • If the conversion rate when selling is low, list the sales force here.

Remember not only to include the team but also the names of the people involved – just to leave no trace of doubt.

This, of course, for larger companies with well-structured departments.

There are business cases that are leaner and the same person is responsible for carrying out more than one of the above activities.

Structured or not, what you need to be clear about is: involve only those who are competent to carry out the actions.

Otherwise, all the planning done will have been useless.

Better yet: talk about who will be positively impacted when this issue is resolved.

This will help motivate those involved to seek an assertive and agile solution.


When? One of the W of the 5W2H

The fifth question is: when will it be done?

It is necessary to define deadlines for carrying out the actions. There is no point in proposing a schedule if there are no dates for each delivery to take place.

Make this clear to everyone involved.

Establish this with everyone so that it is fair and attainable.

In feedback meetings, gradually track how the work proceeds.

Both to find out if it is necessary to change the dates or not, and to avoid pressure and excessive demands on employees.


The sixth question is: how will the activities be done?

If there was no clarity about the path to be followed, now is the perfect time to be as didactic as possible.

Be as specific as possible to avoid not only failures along the way, but also rework. What would go with what you need, right?

So, if you need to sell more, think of actions (provided they make sense for your business) such as:

  • generate more leads through inbound marketing strategies ;
  • active prospecting through outbound marketing strategies ;
  • qualification of leads through the production of educational content;
  • using a sales playbook to accelerate industry knowledge;
  • Use of mental triggers to accelerate closing.

And so many other actions that your teams have the capacity to do. Always within the mission, vision and values of the business.

How much?

How Much? One of the H of the 5W2H

The seventh and final question is: how much will it cost?

Yes, there are and almost always will be costs involved in solving problems.

You have a demand and a deadline to fulfill it.

The amount of money will depend on how much the company can invest and also on the urgency of the matter.

This needs to be put into applying the 5W2H methodology. Fill in not only how much will be spent, but what that money will be invested in.

Is the mission to sell more?

So think about the costs of:

  • a marketing automation tool;
  • a good sales system like a CRM ;
  • investment in telephony, phones and any other tools for the teams
  • sales coaching if needed;
  • Price of a sales consultant to train the team, etc.

Review the resources you have. See what’s missing to fix the problem and reach the ultimate goal.

This step is critical and will determine the success of all others when the actions come out of the paper.

If there are not a lot of resources, then you might need to review the entire analysis.

Or, apply a different methodology, such as the Ishikawa Diagram.

But if there are resources available, then invest. It is the future of your business that is at stake. And he’s too valuable to be put at risk.

So, how can we help you?

Enjoy and read two articles that will help you get more done and fix problems in your business.

The first talks about growth hacking and how it helps organizations to grow constantly.

The second brings 6 sales strategies for companies to achieve their goals.

Good sales!


The 5W2H methodology exists for those who are concerned about managing their business better every day. At first glance it might seem like a strange term – two letters and two numbers together doesn’t explain much, does it? But despite the apparent complexity, understanding what 5W2H is extremely simple. More than understanding its concept, mastering its application is…