Defect Repair vs Corrective Action vs Preventive Action

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. 

Defect Repair

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.

Corrective Action

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.

Preventive 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.

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Speak Your Mind

  • your explanation is excellent and very precise. I love the examples and illustrations. u’ve helped clear the confusion in my mind. Thank u!

  • Can any body explain if we replace some part of a machine due to mal-functioning, it will be called as corrective action or preventive action?

  • Hello Fahad,

    Is Defect repair(replacement or repair of the component of the product) will fall in configuration Management plan? and will prompt change request?

    Thank you,
    Mehul Parekh

    • No, it does not fall under configuration management.

      It may raise change request if the process is costing you a lot of amount which is affecting your cost baseline.

  • I have question
    Which of the following change requests can bring expected future performance of the project work in line with the project management plan?
    A. Corrective action
    B. Defect repair
    C. Preventive action
    D. Probable action

    The answer given was A
    As i know corrective/preventive/defect repair required a CR
    Since it mentioned “Future Performance” why not the answer is C
    Can explain pls

    • I also agree with your take Jimmy. Preventive action ensures that future performance aligns with project work but Corrective action “realigns”…. So I will go with C

  • Kindly update the post with additional details such as which of these three would require Change Request, I believe all three option will likely needed CR submitted to Integrated Change Control Process, if not please elaborate.


  • Thanks Fahad for the post!
    In regards to preventive actions and mitigation risk response plan, do you think there’re difference at the certainty of the targeted events? I.e preventive action is for events that certainly happens if no action taken, while mitigation plan is for uncertain events?

  • You are awesome dear, simple & straightforward during explanations. It would be nice if you could add some examples in the blog because there are a few people like me who only get clear idea thru examples.


  • Is the goal to prevent the non-conformance, the problem or the CAUSE. I vote for Cause because it is the only thing you can actually control.

  • “Corrective action is a future response to the defect repair process or the correction.”

    If you find any defect, you will correct it and make sure that it does not happen again. You will not wait for another error to take the corrective action.

  • Hi Fahad,

    In Industrial there is still confusing between Defect and non-conformance…What I understood from your explanation is that the first Non-conformance to be called “Defect, later to overcome or at least mitigate the impact if it does happened again you have to immplement coorective action.

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

  • Hi Fahad,

    thanks for you explain

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


    • Hello Michael,

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

  • 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!!


    • 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.

      • Hi fahad

        just i want to check if all Preventive/Corrective Actions needs change request or some corrective actions we can do without change request ?

          • Dear Fahad

            i want to make it more clear
            for example during M&C or execute i found that there is a variance when we analyze the variance and knew root cause of the issue i need to correct it

            is it always correction/Prev needs change request ? do i need always for any preventive or corrective action to go through ICC , what if corrective/Prev action is minor and it doesn’t affect baseline or PMP

            can you explain it to me

            • You have to built it in the plan. If the plan says that every change request should go through the CCB, it will go through it.

              However, if the plan says that if the change does not require any change to any baseline it will not go through the ICC. In this case the change request will not go through the complete process.

              • Dear Fahad

                as i know every change request i can decide if to go to CCB based on its effect on the baseline or not,, if it affects then it will go , if not PM can approve but both must go through ICC

                but what i want to make clear is :
                is every corrective or preventive action a Change ?
                if the action is not severe is it a change ?

                • As per my understanding If it is just a correction, you can correct it however for preventive action you may need to change the process which needs approval.

                  • To my understanding Corrective and Preventive actions are taking place during monitor and controlling , but Defect Repair during Execution. As I found in PMBOK, audits (take place during execution) produce Corrective or /and Preventive actions. In other words Corrective and Preventive Actions are produced during Execution. THAT SEEMS CONTRADICTORY to me. Please explain what I cannot understand.

  • 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.

    • 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.

  • 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?

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