What are corrective actions in an audit?
An audit is all about improving. With this in mind, it’s reasonable to think that some things need to change after the evaluation. Some businesses may consider it an obstacle, but it couldn’t be further from the truth. By taking corrective actions, a company can make tweaks (some more complex than others) in its system to perfect its processes and, in turn, obtain a certification. So, what are corrective actions?
Corrective action is taken by a business to fix a failure in its system to ensure that it won’t happen again, addressing a non-conformity raised during an audit.
To address a corrective action, you must be clear about the who, what, when, where, and why. Doing this will let you know all the specifications about the problem so that you can solve it most quickly and effectively.
It may be utopian to think about correcting a failure forever, but what you must be looking for is to minimize the probability of it happening again. These are some aspects you must consider when taking corrective actions:
Before implementing the full corrective actions, you must take an immediate one that solves the problem temporarily. It’s important to know that this is not the corrective action you are looking for to fix the system.
Informing customers, quarantining an item, or reviewing a procedure are great examples.
Depending on the nature of the non-conformance, you must determine its magnitude to identify batches with the same potential issue. You need to know if it’s an isolated incident or a problem in the system.
Identifying the root cause
The next step is to make a profound analysis to identify the root cause of the problem. By reviewing all of the symptoms, you’ll be able to get to the bottom of the issue. Think of it as a medical diagnosis. Why is the system suffering? What measurable evidences have you collected? You will get to it by answering these questions.
Getting rid of the root cause is the only way to prevent a problem from happening again. Some popular techniques include the 5 Whys, the Pareto analysis, the fishbone diagram, and cause mapping.
Each one has its challenges. For example, the 5 Whys generate a tendency for a team to address the symptoms instead of going further, looking for the real root cause. On the other hand, the fishbone diagram is considered a more holistic approach.
When you have identified the root cause, you and your team must develop the tasks, processes, and designs to implement changes and resolve the problem.
All departments must know what is going to happen to maximize effectiveness. This level of coordination will let everyone understand how they will be affected by the actions. Of course, you must document everything for implementation. You must determine who is responsible, when are they going to act, and the specifics of it. These details will let you review the process in the future.
You can’t get to this stage until you identify the root cause. It’s very typical for companies to take corrective actions that don’t address the root cause.
The duration of a corrective action will depend on the complexity of the problem and the necessary steps to implement it.
Demonstration that the system works
Finally, when you present your corrective actions, the auditor will determine if they are satisfactory. The verification of the effectiveness will allow you to prevent future non-conformities and ensure that the system is working as intended. You also need to have a method to demonstrate that the system works and that the issues are gone. An internal audit could be helpful to prove it.
Corrective actions are an essential part of any certification audit, so you and your team must be prepared to make these changes to achieve the ultimate goal.
Reference: Asia Quality Foods