Tags Posts tagged with "corrective action"

corrective action

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  1. Commit to improvement.

For any QMS to improve, it is essential that everyone is committed to seeking problems, evaluating efficiency and effectiveness of processes and implementing better and improved ideas. Management should be the first to make this commitment and if management “walks the talk” then everyone will follow.

  1. Analyse and assess current QMS.

Organizations need to take a closer look at their current practices in order to identify any gaps between what is being done and what should be done. This can be achieved by interviewing workers in critical control points, reviewing procedures and records and observing how processes are occurring. Any steps that are not adding value to the process, the system or the organization must be identified, removed or improved.

  1. Include everyone in training programs.

A QMS is not the responsibility of one person or one department. Everyone must be involved in improving the quality of products, services and processes.

Organizations should establish a training program for new employees and existing ones.  These programs should promote knowledge, produce skills and capacities and reduce resistance when implementing new ideas for improvement.

  1. Define clear goals and objectives and make sure everyone knows them.

QMS should aim at achieving specific goals. If a clear path is not drawn, there’s a risk that people will be working real hard but in different directions. Time should be spent in assuring everyone knows these goals, how they’ll be achieved, how they’re measured and periodically they should be informed of where the organization is standing in relation to these goals.

  1. Make sure the right key performance indicators (KPI) are being used.

Organizations need to carefully select and review their KPI. These should let an organization know how efficient and effective processes are and indicate where possible problems could be. If they are not giving a real overall picture of where the organization is at regarding quality, then another look should be taken to change or improve what and how performance is being measured.

  1. Listen to the suggestions of employees and customers.

Create a system that will promote workers and customers to share improvement ideas. Many great improvement ideas come directly from the people processing a product or the people that actually use it.

  1. Give people credit.

To encourage participation throughout the organization, motivate workers by recognizing their work and their ideas. Compensation or recognition should not necessarily be monetary, a simple public recognition in working meetings to can have great effects in lifting workers morale.

  1. Make the system simple.

A QMS that is extremely complex and overloaded with documents is not necessarily the best one. If documents and procedures are long and complicated, it is very likely that people will never use them. Evaluate the system and make sure that it makes sense and that it’s as simple as possible.

  1. Create quality groups.

In many organizations workers from different departments or areas are reluctant with sharing information. By bringing together people from different areas to evaluate processes and recommend improvements, an open and more effective communication can be achieved between areas that operationally seem to be apart.

  1. Have a quality attitude.

In order to reach the goals that have been set, organizations need to identify and detect problems and weaknesses but they must focus on improvements. If managers are constantly focusing on failures and defects and not on how to remove or improve them, the right attitude and mindset for quality will never be achieved.

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Every management system requires a way for approaching non-conformities and potential non-conformities. Although many organizations are familiar with the preventive and corrective action processes, there is still some confusion on understanding the differences between them.

Both preventive and corrective actions are developed to improve an organization’s management systems, and their main difference can be identified by taking a closer look at their definition which is found in most of the ISO standards, including ISO 9001:

Corrective action: action to eliminate the cause of a detected non-conformity or other undesirable situation.

Preventive action: action to eliminate the cause of a potential non-conformity or other undesirable situation.

The main difference is that corrective actions are those required to address a non-conformity that has already occurred. In other words, the actions necessary to “clean up the mess”, determine the root cause(s) of the non-conformity and prevent it from happening again. On the other hand, preventive actions are the ones taken to prevent a non-conformity from ever occurring.

Some of the specific actions taken on each of these processes are:

Corrective Action

  • The root cause(s) of the non-conformity needs to be identified and documented.
  • The effect of the non-conformity should be analyzed in order to determine its impact and the actions required to correct or neutralize the damage or possible damages.
  • The whole system needs to be scanned to ensure that the non-conformity does not occur in other areas.
  • Implement the actions that will prevent the non-conformity from reoccurring.
  • Follow up on the actions must be done to determine its effectiveness.

Preventive Action

  • Proactive actions, such as risk assessments, failure modes and effects analysis, must be taken to identify potential non-conformities.
  • The development of work instructions, documented procedures, training are examples of actions that are performed to prevent non-conformities.
  • Other activities that are regularly carried out and are part of the preventive action process are audits, management reviews and inspections.

The number of corrective and preventive actions in an organization reflects its maturity. If an organization has more corrective than preventive actions it is a sign that more resources are being invested on trying to correct non-conformities that have already occurred. Moreover, when the number of preventive actions are greater than the corrective ones, it’s an indication that an organization is on the right track on successfully preventing non-conformities from ever occurring.

The ultimate goal regarding these actions are to have as many that are preventive and zero that are corrective. It is easier and less expensive for any organization to prevent a problem from happening than to clean up the mess after it has occurred.

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As any other manager, role of the Management Representative is that of planning, organizing, monitoring, evaluating, and reporting.
As any other manager, role of the Management Representative is that of planning, organizing, monitoring, evaluating, and reporting.

Corrective Action is a reactive process; something needs to have gone wrong in order for an organization to take actions to solve the problem or non-conformity. Depending on the way they are approached, non-conformities can be corrected and its recurrence prevented.

Organizations with well-established management systems can find that problems/non-conformities, in their processes, products or services, recur, in spite of all the efforts (time, work and money) spent to eliminate them. In order to ensure that a problem is fixed immediately and in the long-term, an effective corrective action process needs to be established. Here are some characteristics of what makes an excellent corrective action process:

Problems are identified. Problems can occur in processes, in the workplace, in a product or service provided, or in the management system itself. Some of these problems are easier to identify than others; that’s why organizations need to establish ways to identify them through:

  • Workplace and process inspections.
  • Testing, inspecting, and monitoring of equipment.
  • Reviewing interested party’s communications.
  • Audits.
  • Hazard reporting.
  • Investigating complaints, incidents and accidents.
  • Reviewing system failures.
  • Reviewing regulatory requirements.

Problems are temporarily fixed or contained. Most problems need a quick reaction. For that reason, the owner of the task or process needs to be located and informed immediately in order to take the necessary actions to solve the problem temporarily.

The problem’s root cause is found. This is the most important characteristic of an effective corrective action process. If an organization is unable to determine the root cause of a problem/non-conformity, it is condemned to face the same problem over and over, which can be exhausting and discouraging to everyone involved in the process.

There are numerous techniques to determine the root cause of a problem. An organization needs to make sure their employees have the time, resources and the required skills to investigate and draw the right conclusions from these investigations.

A long lasting solution is put in place. After identifying the root cause, an appropriate solution that will prevent the problem from happening again must be proposed. These actions need to be put in place. It’s useless to go through all the work of understanding the problem and identifying its root cause, if the actions to solve it, will not be taken.

Permanent changes are verified. After an appropriate period of time, a person needs to be assigned to verify if the actions were successful in preventing recurrence. It’s recommended that this person is someone that was not involved in the previous steps of this process, to ensure is impartiality.

Corrective actions are recorded. It’s essential to report all the details of the corrective actions: problem found, immediate actions taken, root cause, corrective actions, and verification.

If an organization learns to solve their problems by applying an effective corrective action process, they will ultimately improve their processes, their management system and their business.