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Coming Up With a Solid Corrective Action Plan: Free Template Included

written by: Marjory Pilley • edited by: Michele McDonough • updated: 9/20/2011

Problems occur in every business. Successful business will swiftly and effectively implement required changes to overcome issues. Customize the sample corrective action plan in this article when faced with a challenge on your next project.

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    All the pieces of the puzzle are captured in a corrective action plan. If you are reading this article, then most likely a problem exists. Maybe your company has been audited and an area has been identified as out of compliance with a regulation. Or, you may be inundated with customer complaints because a process is not working as intended. In any event, many people, processes and actions may be required to resolve the issue.

    Use the sample corrective action plan discussed in this article to coordinate the necessary changes. Utilizing this document will keep the team focused and allow interested parties to quickly assess progress. The template may be downloaded for free from the Bright Hub Media Gallery at the following link: Corrective Action Plan Template.

    All of the items in the template are discussed below. However, a more detailed discussion is required for the problem statement and desired outcome, since all of the other sections are developed based upon the formulation of these items.

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    A Formal Plan to Improve

    Clearly state the problem in the first section of the plan. In some instances, the issue may be articulated in an audit report or other formal document by a third party. If the issue was identified internally, then the problem can vary depending upon the viewpoint. Develop consensus by gathering information from stakeholders. A concise and narrowly defined project scope will streamline the action plan development process.

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    Desired Outcome

    The next section of the sample correction action plan is the desired outcome. This component details what will be accomplished. As with the problem, zeroing in on a detailed and clear outcome is critical. There are many solutions to a problem. Some work may need to occur in order to establish agreement on the best result.

    Unnecessary delays in the development of a corrective action can occur when agreement can't be reached on the solution to a problem. Avoid this situation by building the research of alternatives into the plan. Initially, the desired outcome may be less detailed. Update the desired outcome when critical decisions have been made.

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    Corrective Action Plan Template

    The following components are provided in the sample corrective action plan. Add or delete sections as appropriate:

    • Problem - State the problem in specific and concrete terms.
    • Desired Outcome - Articulate the desired outcome.
    • Sponsor - Identify the overall responsible party for the changes. Depending upon the magnitude of the problem, the sponsor may also be responsible for specific action items as well.
    • Task - List the steps required to accomplish the change. Break the action items into logical and small steps rather than lumping tasks together. This will make accountability and tracking progress easier. Begin with actionable verbs for consistency and maximum impact.

    For each task, detail the following information:

    • Responsible Person - Ideally, this is one individual with overall responsibility for completion of the task. This person will report the status to the overall sponsor.
    • Stakeholders - Other departments and people are often impacted by a task. For example, accounting, information technology or compliance may need to sign-off or perform an action in order to complete the task. Gather input from stakeholders and include these individuals in the corrective action plan. (It also creates a list of invitees for a status meeting.)
    • Resources - Identify specific resources needed to complete the project. Do additional funds need to be budgeted? Is training required? Are outside services required? This section also assists in the development of a budget and cost analysis of the corrective activities.
    • Constraints - Careful analysis of constraints that inhibit completion will contribute to the development of a realistic deadline and a more accurate estimate of progress. Possible constraints may involve systems, people, days of operation and more.
    • Metric - Document the way a task is measured in this area, if applicable. Note that metrics should be monitored after a change has occurred to ensure ongoing compliance and effectiveness.
    • Due Date - Establish a realistic deadline. It is not helpful to establish an aggressive deadline that won't be met or to pad a task with unnecessary time. Talk with staff that will perform the task and understand what job responsibilities might need to be shifted in order to complete the task.
    • Percent Complete - The responsible party updates this item at pre-determined times. It allows a quick assessment by the sponsor and other interested parties that progress is occurring in accordance with expectations.
    • Comments - This free form section will allow the responsible party to formalize information related to progress.

    There is nothing more frustrating than watching time tick away as a problem festers. Use this plan to mobilize your team to action and success.

    If you're looking for more sample forms and downloadable templates, check out Bright Hub's resource guide Over 50 Free Project Management Templates and Sample Forms.

    Image credit: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/940460