Corrective Action and Preventive Action-Know the Difference

calendar06 Mar, 2023
timeReading Time: 10 Minutes
Corrective Action and Preventive Action-Know the Difference

Corrective Action and Preventive Action (CAPA) consists of improvements to an organization’s processes taken to eliminate causes of non-conformities or other undesirable situations. It is generally a set of action, regulations, or laws required by an organization to take in manufacturing, documentation, procedures, or systems to rectify and eliminate recurring non-conformance. Non-conformance is recognized after systematic evaluation & analysis of the root cause of the non-conformance. The Corrective Action and Preventive Action is designed by a team that comprises of quality assurance personnel & personnel involved in the actual observation point of non-conformance. In this blog, we will discuss about Corrective Action and Preventive Action.

What Is The Meaning Of Corrective Action And Preventive Action?

Let’s Know The Meaning Of Corrective Action And Preventive Action:

  • Preventive Action:

A series of steps are included in the corrective action plan in order to fix the issue. Correcting the problem’s fundamental cause rather than just its symptoms is the goal of the corrective action plan. Every time there is a nonconformity, you will take action to fix it, but how you fix it will determine whether it is a simple fix or a corrective action. By making a modification, you can take care of the most visible issue, get rid of the nonconformity, and allow the process to continue. This is a correction that might be included in the containment measures.

Preventive intervention is conducted to address the root of a potential process issue. Preventive action (PA) is defined as “the activities taken by the organization to eliminate the cause of a potential process nonconformity” in a management system. If you are identifying potential problems that could happen in a process, analyzing what could cause these problems, and then taking action to stop the problem from happening before it happens, you are taking preventive action.

  • Corrective Action

Corrective action (CA) refers to the steps done to get rid of a process nonconformity’s root cause. Corrective action is the process of responding to a process issue, containing it via containment measures, and then taking the necessary steps to prevent it from happening again. In earlier iterations of ISO 9001, it was stated that although PA would stop a problem from occurring, CA would stop an issue from recurring.

Examples of Corrective Action and Preventive Action

Preventive activities identify the problem before it arises and take efforts to solve the cause of the problem before it happens, as opposed to corrective actions, which act to address the cause of a problem after it has already occurred.

An easy corrective action and preventive action (CAPA) example is shown below:

  • Corrective Action: If a person hurts himself on a chair’s corner and realizes that the chair’s sharp corners were to blame, he took steps to have the table’s corners rounded off to prevent any further injuries. This includes the steps used to modify the design such that rounded corners are used in all subsequent tables.
  • Preventive Action: In case a person discovers the fact that a chair’s sharp edges are to blame for the risk of someone being hurt (despite the fact that no one has been hurt), the person beforehand only rounds the edges of the chair and modify future designs to eliminate the risk.

While Corrective Action and Preventive Action in the management system typically involves process issues, this example employs a product issue instead, making it simple to understand the distinction between preventative activities and corrective actions. Simply put, preventative measures are proactive in addressing possible problems before they arise, whereas corrective measures are responses to problems after they occur.

Purpose/Importance of Corrective Action and Preventive Action (CAPA)

The corrective and preventive action subsystem’s goal is to gather data, evaluate data, pinpoint and look into product and quality issues, then take the necessary corrective and/or preventive action to stop them from happening again. In order to effectively deal with product and quality problems, prevent their recurrence, and prevent or minimize device failures, corrective and preventive actions must be verified or validated, communicated to the appropriate parties, provided with pertinent information for management review, and documented. The subsystem for corrective and preventive action is one of the most crucial components of a quality system.

Corrective Action vs. Preventive Action:

  • Non-Conformity:

Once the Non-conformity has taken place, Corrective action is carried out; while preventive action is deliberately considered with an intent of preventing a nonconformity.

  • Role in ISO Standards:

Corrective actions include assessment of root cause and a plan to prevent recurrence; whereas replaced by risk-based thinking and improvement, rather than a formal process.

  • Stage When It Is Used:

Corrective Actions is used at the time of recurrence, whereas preventive action is used at the time of occurrence.

  • Types of Activity:

It is based on the reactive activity that happens after the fact in case of Corrective action, whereas in case of preventive action it is based on proactive activity, in which action is taken when a risk is identified.

Why Are Corrective Actions Much More Important Than the Preventive Actions?

In case of ignorance of a systemic problem, huge time and money may be wasted in the long run-one that is not the result of a single error but rather is brought on by something in the system. Corrective action is crucial because of this. By taking the required steps to prevent the problems from recurring again, you can save a lot of money if workers are spending needless time fixing problems that arise or need to be constantly on the lookout for problems before they get worse.

The Quality Management System includes the CA procedure to help you save time and money. It is crucial to remember that one challenge with the corrective action method is that it is challenging to apply to minor, non-systemic issues where an underlying cause cannot be identified. The new ISO 9001:2015 standard (and others like it, like ISO 14001:2015 and ISO 45001:2018) have added a decision once you have fixed the problem to the requirements because of this. Of course, it’s crucial to keep in mind that several other ISO 9001-based standards, such as ISO 13485 and IATF 16949[1], haven’t adopted this change to determine the necessity of addressing the root cause.

Why Do The Most Recent ISO Standards Call For Corrective Action But Not Prevention?

The earlier iterations of ISO 9001, ISO 14001, ISO 27001, and other standards that support the need for a management system’s corrective and preventive action processes. Both processes generally followed the same procedures, but corrective action was launched in response to an actual problem, whereas preventative action was started in response to the discovery of a prospective problem. When installing older versions of these management systems, there was frequent confusion about this; some employees only sometimes used their preventive action process because it is a complicated procedure and diverts time from reacting through corrective measures.

Therefore, preventive action is no longer required by the most recent versions of the management system standards that are in line with Annex SL, such as ISO 27001:2013, ISO 9001:2015, and ISO 14001:2015. In some aspects, this avoids the aforementioned confusion, but ISO has also noted that other elements of the standard, when properly applied, can successfully provide good preventive measures, negating the need for the complicated procedure that was previously associated with PA. Other elements of the standard now stand in for preventive action, including:

  • Risk-Based Thinking – This new criteria asks you to identify areas where the management system could be impacted but the results are unpredictable. This mode of thinking requires recognizing this uncertainty, or risk, and deciding whether you need to take action to avoid negative results or to seize favorable outcomes; these are dangers and opportunities (essentially positive risk). In these more recent standards, clause 6 of the planning clause includes examining top-level strategic risks and opportunities.
  • Improvement- Based Module – Any improvement activities that you take to make the processes of your management system better are preventive actions. The focus of the new requirements is for each company to find good ways that work for them to improve processes, rather than having the complicated preventive action system in place from previous versions of the standards. If you have something as simple as a suggestion program that identifies how to make processes better and implements those changes, this could be an action to prevent a problem.

How Are Corrective Action And Preventive Action Carried Out?

In the more recent ISO management system standards, which are in line with the ISO standard format, the systematic method for CAPA has not fundamentally altered. Corrective measures continue to focus on enhancing process performance or behavior. Generally speaking, you must:

1.            Determine the Process Issue – Specify the true nature of the issue. First, confirm that the issue is indeed a problem and not just one that is being perceived. If you can formulate the issue as a need to compare, often known as a “Should Be” and “Is” statement, it is an excellent test (e.g. Parts should be nickel plated, parts were received painted black). If you are unable to specify what the desired result should be, you might not have actually discovered a problem.

2.            Determine the Size of the Issue – What is the problem’s scope? Verify that you are aware of the scope of the issue. Is it only the goods from today, or was yesterday’s product also impacted? Identification of the seriousness of the problem is a major task, then only any sector can come up with the proper solution.

3.            Take Steps To Contain The Issue – How can we put a stop to the issue while we address the underlying cause? Make a change to temporarily solve the issue while you search for and address the root cause. What essentially are you doing to ensure that you will absolutely catch the issue again if it recurs while you are correcting it in terms of immediate checks or stopgap measures?

4.            Determine the Underlying Cause of the Issue -what is the issue, not merely its outward manifestation? The hardest part is this. How can you be certain you have identified the root cause? There are several ways to accomplish this, ranging from simple approaches until you identify the root cause to more complex ones. There have been entire training program devoted to this subject, but suffice it to say that you should attempt to find the root of the issue rather than just a visible one. Make that your scope has not expanded following this step, necessitating additional confinement measures.

5.            Make A Plan To Address The Root Cause – What has to be altered in order to do away with the cause? Choose the actions required to solve the issue’s underlying cause. You will need to determine the cost and return on investment in this situation depending on the issue. If the fix is complicated and expensive, how will it be paid for and who needs to approve the cost? Verify that the intended adjustments won’t lead to any new issues.

6.            Execute Your Plan – Carry out what you have decided. Simply carrying out your strategy and making it happen will solve this. Implementing the previously specified preventive maintenance schedule could suffice, as could purchasing and installing new equipment because the old one was no longer able to maintain the required accuracy.

7.            Verify Your Strategy Was Successful – Make sure your strategy worked. Simply put, after making your modifications, allow     yourself enough time to pass before checking to see if the issue reappears. If it does, you should consider whether you identified the true root problem. The most crucial stage is also the one that most businesses struggle with. People frequently want to finish the paperwork as soon as possible or believe the registrar needs it finished early to show timeliness, but adequate follow-up is crucial.

To record the information and make sure you don’t miss any steps, many businesses have a corrective action form that follows this method or a modified process. For significant, systemic difficulties within your business, having a good systematic procedure is crucial to identifying and resolving the source of the issue. If you merely address the symptom, the issue will recur. Corrective measures seek to address the underlying cause of the issue in order to prevent future failures.

When A Corrective Action Measure Is Taken By A Leader?

The goal of corrective action is to address a systemic problem that has to be eliminated rather than merely a minor mistake that needs to be fixed. Therefore, when a systemic issue is discovered, a leader should take corrective action. To check for potential systemic issues, leaders should consider the following items:

  • KPIs, or key performance indicators, Do the performance metrics you’ve chosen point to any common issues? Do your KPIs demonstrate that your processes are effective?       
  • Review of records: Do your records indicate any recurring issues that need to be looked into, such as a cyclic delay that always occurs on a particular day of the month?
  • Employee feedback: Do you need to look at any concerns that employees suggest but that management keeps fixing?
  • Audit findings – Assessing these flaws could reveal systemic issues. Audits are used to highlight areas where processes aren’t meeting planned requirements. Internal audits, customer audits, and certification audits are all included in this.

Implementation of Corrective Actions (CA)

Simply adhering to the plan you have created will enable you to implement remedial action. Perform each action you have listed, make sure it is finished successfully, and evaluate whether changes have brought about any new dangers that need additional attention. Once more, it can be helpful to conceive of your Corrective Action plan as a project plan to better understand how implementation should move forward. This kind of tool can also show which tasks can be completed concurrently and which ones must wait until other tasks have been completed.

Way to Write a Proper Corrective Action Report

The corrective action report can be in any format that works for your business, just like any other report inside an organization. Large corrective measures may require written reporting from larger firms with a large top management team, just like any project. These reports might include executive summaries, comprehensive results and cost breakdowns, and proof of a successful closure.

The ISO management system standards have specific record-keeping requirements, and you should at the very least mention this in your report. The following must be maintained as CA records in accordance with the ISO management system standards based on Annex SL, such as ISO 27001:2013, ISO 22301:2019, ISO 9001:2015, or ISO 14001:2015:

  • The types of nonconformities for which you have implemented corrective measures
  • The steps performed in the remedial measures
  • The outcomes of the corrective measures, including their efficacy

Keep in mind that the procedure is not intended to be a burden on your business, but rather to assist you in saving resources by removing greater systemic problems from your organization. Implement a CAPA system that will benefit you, not one that is merely cosmetic. One of the best ways to improve your organization is to eliminate difficulties.


In contrast, if you examine a problem that gave rise to a nonconformity and look into its causes until you understand the cause, which was the beginning of the chain that led to the nonconformity, and then you take steps to address this root cause so that it cannot happen again, you have addressed the problem. Similar to any other project plan you would develop for your firm, the corrective action plan is essentially the same. It’s critical to establish timelines, resource requirements, and completion dates for the corrective action in order to manage expectations. It is significant to note that the ISO standards include a clause stating that corrective measures should be proportionate to the severity of the effects caused by the nonconformities. As a result, it is not expected that you will expend a lot of time and money fixing a minor issue.

Also Read:
Why The ISO Registration Has Creditability In India: Process Of ISO Certification
Important Aspect Of ISO Certification That Every Manufacturer Needs To Remember
A Complete Guide On How To Obtain ISO Certificate? Benefits, Penalties And Fees

Request a Call Back

Are you human? : 6 + 7 =

Easy Payment Options Available No Spam. No Sharing. 100% Confidentiality