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Processes or Procedures Out of Control? Use a Preventative Action Plan

written by: Suba Lakshminarasimhan • edited by: Jean Scheid • updated: 8/25/2011

When a customer complains or the results of an quality audit are poor, you need to know how to write a corrective action plan to prevent these issues from happening again. Learn here the elements included in these types of plans and when you should write them.

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    Purpose

    Implementing changes after finding gaps and weaknesses in a management system or a product is commonly known as performing a corrective action. A strategic plan to correct or eliminate the weaknesses is popularly termed as the corrective action plan.

    Most of the time, the below reasons lead to the need for a plan:

    1. Complaints from customer or users
    2. Results of an audit
    3. Consequences of a Quality Assurance / Quality Control (QA/QC) team
    4. Outcome of a testing process
    5. Business demands such as competition, product upgrades, redesigning or re-engineering.

    You must ensure that the plan is accurate, flexible and designed in a way to automate the processes in your organization. This article will help you to completely understand the key elements involved in writing a this type of plan.

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    State the Problem

    Questioning Stating the problem is the first step to be considered when writing an action plan to correct problems. Unless the problem is stated appropriately, finding the root cause and in turn, identifying the solution is not feasible.

    For stating the problem, ask yourself a couple of questions:

    1. What is the current situation?
    2. What should be the right situation?
    3. What is the reason behind the current situation?
    4. What is the impact of the current situation?
    5. How can the current situation be rectified or resolved?

    The answers to the above questions will help you to state or define the problem statement. You will also be able to identify the weaknesses in the product or any gaps in the operational system.

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    Define the Plan

    Once you've stated the problem, what is the next step? Move on to define the action plan.

    Once the problem statement is prepared, now it is time to define the action plan. The action plan helps to design the implementation phases of the processes. Assessing the current problems and evaluating the root causes are the key elements highly used in defining the action plan.

    The following criteria must be included in the action plan:

    • Change in the policies, processes and procedures
    • Training for resources
    • Changes in management system and tools
    • Product redesigning or re-engineering
    • Resource analysis
    • Implementation processes

    Writing an action plan with the above specifications is critical before proceeding.

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    Create Ownerships

    Once the action plan is strategized, assigning tasks to the team is the third important step. Create ownerships to take care of each step in the corrective action plan. Many times, the process implementation from the corrective action plan requires collaboration from various departments, practices and functions.

    As an example, the success of upgrading or redesigning a product requires collaboration of the following functionalities:

    • Management team to identify the problem
    • Technical expertise from the technical team to bring in solutions
    • Marketing team to develop the product branding and the marketing activities
    • Sales team to recognize the purchasing behavior and the user experience
    • Human Resource team to identify and allocate resources

    The corrective action plan should have the appropriate resource allocations and stakeholders to take care of each action.

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    Define Deadlines

    As already articulated, creating ownership or resource allocation is a vital step when writing the corrective action plan. Defining deadlines is the next step to be considered in your plan. A plan without a defined schedule will definitely fail. Ensure the deadline defined to complete each step is appropriate and adequate to comply with all the processes.

    Unfair deadlines also create chaotic situations during the implementation phase. Inadequate deadlines lead to quality issues and delays in the final deliverables.

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    Track and Monitor the Progress

    Once the processes, resources and deadlines are defined, it is imperative to develop ways to manage the progress. You need to create procedures to track and monitor the progress when writing the plan.

    You can track and monitor progress through:

    • Automating the corrective action plan processes
    • Using management information system and tools
    • Periodic reports and analysis
    • Following quality control and assurance procedures

    Tracking and monitoring the progress while implementing processes from the action plan is critical to business growth and success. Doing it right at the first time always helps to save quality time and energy.

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    Define Preventive Measures

    The solutions are found for the problems identified. The processes developed out of the corrective action plan are implemented. How can we prevent these problems from occurring again? Identifying the preventive measures is essential at this stage. Adding each step mentioned in this article is indispensable if you need to know how to write a corrective action plan. Define the important preventive measures when writing your plan for action. To err is human, but remember, repeating errors always lead to business failures.

References

  • Author has professional experience writing corrective action plans and implementing related processes

    Tips on writing a corrective action plan retrieved at http://www.apd.myflorida.com/cdcplus/docs/appendix/ten-step-corrective-action.pdf

    Image Credit:

    Questioning,sxc.hu,ilco / Royalty Free License