Defect Repair vs Corrective Action vs Preventive Action

Corrective-Action-Preventive-Actions-Defect-RepairsCorrective Action, Preventive Action, and Defect Repair are the most commonly used key elements in the quality management system. You must understand these terms in order to have a better command over the quality management processes in the PMBOK Guide.

Therefore, in this blog post, I am going to explain you these three quality management terms with examples so that you could acquire a better understanding of these terms.

Okay, let’s get started…

Defect Repair is an easy concept—repair the defects. However, the difference between corrective action and preventive action is so thin that many people get confused while trying to differentiate them.

In corrective action, you try to take action to correct the non-conformance event that happened in the past. Whereas, in preventive action, you take action to avoid or mitigate any potential non-conformance event that may occur in the future.

Let us discuss it in further detail.

Defect Repair

Defect Repair is a process of repairing the defective part or replacing it, as needed. For example, let us say that you are manufacturing some component. Suddenly you see that a component is in bad shape or has any kind of discrepancy or non-conformity. You will physically inspect the material and you will see if this defect can be corrected. If this defect can be corrected, you will correct it. And if this defect cannot be corrected, then you will simply replace it.

Defect Repair is also known as the correction and it is performed when the product does not meet the quality requirements.

Corrective Action

Corrective Action is a future response to the defect repair process or the correction, so that the cause of error or non-conformity will not occur again. For example let us say that during the inspection you find some defective component, and you corrected the defective component. Now, you don’t want this defect to happen again. Therefore, you will look into root cause of the problem, find a solution, and apply it to your operations so that the defects do not not occur again.

In other words, you can say that the Corrective Actions are the steps taken to correct the root problem and stop the recurrence of deviation.

Corrective Action is a reactive process and it is performed to bring the deviation under control.

Preventive Action

Preventive Action is an action that is taken to avoid any anticipated future defects that may appear in the component. For example, let us say that you are going to start production of some component. Before starting the production process, you think that some defects may appear on the component. Therefore, you review your processes and procedures and make some changes (if needed) so that the cause of anticipated defects could be prevented.

Preventive Action is a proactive process.

Please note that there is a difference between Corrective Action and Preventive Action. In corrective action, a problem has occurred and you try to make sure that this problem should not recur.

On the other hand, in preventive action, a problem has not yet occurred. You simply take some measures so that any problem should not occur.

In other words, you can say that the preventive action is a process of identification of the most likely cause of any potential non-conformity in order to prevent it from initially occurring.
Preventive Actions are performed to ensure that there should not be any deviation from the baselines.

This was all about the Corrective Action, Preventive Action and Defect Repair. Please share your thoughts in the comments section.

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  1. Salam says

    Corrective action and defect repair.

    Are these two(Corrective action and defect repair) go hand in hand? . Can corrective action occur without the occurrence of a defect repair?

  2. Artee says

    Really interesting article. Can you explain a bit about how a Non Conformance Request links into this and what the relationship towards a repair and the corrective and preventive actions are?

    Would a repair automatically trigger a non conformance request? Or would a non conformance request only be triggered when the repair showed that there is a manufacturing or procedural fault that caused the defect to the product?

    I would also be interested in knowing wheter there is any difference in the way that needs handling whether the fault was caused by the supplier and discovered during product inspection or whether it was discovered by the customer and was triggered by a repair request.

    • Fahad Usmani says

      It depends on situation. It is a just a manual error, item will be corrected and there will not be change request. However, if there is a defect due to the faulty procedure, a change request may be issued.

  3. anmol says

    Dear Fahad,

    Could you please clarify that how Preventive/ corrective or defect repair are different from Change control process?

    Is it that P / C / DR does not change the baseline whereas change request should? If yes, then there may be a change request which do not affect performance baselines then how is it different from P/C or DR..

    Thanks for your continuous support and help!!


    • Fahad Usmani says

      Preventive action, corrective action and defect repair can cause a change request. For example, some error has occurred during the project execution; although, you have corrected it through defect repair but it causes you a lot of time.

      Therefore you may raise a change request to change the schedule baseline.

  4. michael says

    Hi Fahad,

    thanks for you explain

    please is the preventive action considered as mitigation or avoidance respnse plan??


    • Fahad Usmani says

      Hello Michael,

      As per my understanding we deal preventive actions as a fact and accordingly the project plan is developed.

  5. Kanda says

    Can I simply say that both “Preventive” and “Corrective” actions are applied in the process levels and “defect repair” is meant for deliverables? thanks.

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