Corrective action, preventive action, and defect repair are commonly used terms in quality management. You must understand these terms for a better understanding of the quality management processes.
Defect repair is an easy concept. However, differentiating corrective action and preventive action is a little difficult; the difference is so minuscule that many aspirants get confused.
These concepts are also very important from a PMP exam point of view. In your exam, you will see a few questions from this topic.
According to the PMBOK Guide, 6th edition, a defect repair is an intentional activity to modify a nonconforming product or product component.
It is a process of repairing or replacing the defective part, as needed. It is instant; you have to take action immediately once you have identified a defect. This process is performed when the product does not meet the quality requirements.
Let’s say that during an inspection you find that the deliverable has a discrepancy. It is not conforming to the requirements.
You will see if you can correct the defect and do so if possible or you will replace it.
Many experts call defect repair corrections or rework.
A Real-World Exam of Defect Repair
Let’s say you are manufacturing rods of 10 meters long. During the inspection, you find that the length of one rod is 10.5 meters. As per the quality requirement, this product is not acceptable.
Therefore, you remove this rod from the lot and replace it with another, correct rod.
As per the PMBOK Guide, 6th edition, corrective action is an intentional activity that realigns the performance of the project work with the project management plan.
In quality management, corrective action is a future response to the defect repair process. It makes sure that the error will not occur again.
For example, let’s say that you find some defective components and you corrected them. You don’t want this defect to happen again, so you look into the root cause of the problem and find a solution. Afterward, you will apply this solution to your processes so the defects do not occur again.
Corrective action helps you solve the root cause of the problem and stops a recurrence of the deviation.
Corrective action is a reactive process.
A Real-World Example of Corrective action
You are manufacturing rods 10-meters long. While inspecting you find that some rods have different lengths.
You start investigating the root cause of this. You find that a bug in the code is causing the defective manufacturing process. You contact the machine’s supplier and ask them to correct the code.
Technicians come and now the machine is producing rods of the correct length.
This is an example of corrective action.
According to the PMBOK Guide, 6th edition, preventive action is an intentional activity that ensures the future performance of the project work is aligned with the project management plan.
In quality management, preventive action helps avoid any future defects.
For example, let’s say that you are going to start a production process. You think that some defects may appear during the production, so you review your processes and make necessary changes to prevent this.
Preventive action is a proactive process.
Please note that in corrective action, a problem has already occurred and you are taking action to ensure that it does not reoccur.
On the other hand, in preventive action, a problem has not yet occurred. You take measures to make sure it does not happen.
Preventive actions help you find the cause of any future defects and to prevent them from occurring. They ensure that the deliverable is defect free.
A Real-World Example of Preventive Action
You are going to start a machine producing rods. Then you remember that, in your previous company, you faced an issue with the code for a similar process. This issue caused the rods to be of different lengths. In your current company, you are using the same process with similar equipment.
You don’t want the error to occur this time, so you ask the programmers from your company to come and check the code. They do not find any errors.
Here you took preventive action to stop the error from occurring.
How to Implement Defect Repair, Corrective Action, and Preventive Action
Any actions related to repairing defects, corrective action, or preventive action should go through change requests, as some of them may require a plan modification and a slight change in cost baseline.
Generally, the effect on the baseline is not significant.
Moreover, the costs of defect repair, corrective action, and preventive action are borne by you. You cannot ask the client to pay for it. These are the costs of quality, which includes the cost of conformance and the cost of nonconformance. The cost of defect repair and corrective action will fall under the cost of nonconformance. Preventive action costs are under the cost of conformance.
You will always find some defects in your products or processes; there is always a scope for improvement. Once the project starts, you will have to deal with different kinds of defects. Every defect has a different process to deal with. In corrective action, you have found defects and you take action so the future products can be defect-free. In preventive action, you make an effort to avoid any defects that may appear in the future. Defect repair is about fixing the product.
How do you deal with corrective action, preventive action, and defect repair? Please share your experiences in the comments section.