Corrective and Preventive Actions

Skill level: Basic


Capturing details regarding both corrective (fixing a problem that has occurred) and preventive (fixing a problem that could occur) actions can be a powerful tool for many business improvement opportunities. Not only does documentation on corrective and preventive actions provide a record for risks, but it also can capture the root cause of the problem, the impact the problem has had, and the actions taken to address the risk and correct the issue(s).

In essence, this tool provides a summary of critical information that can be leveraged during action planning and as people transition within an organization. The information will not be subjected to changes as people’s memories or perceptions are altered by time.


  • A single document that captures critical information on actual or perceived risks (including actions taken)
  • An easy way to communicate or share previous issues and resulting process changes
  • A valuable tool, when analyzed holistically, for identifying systemic problems and continual improvement initiatives

How to Use

  • Step 1.  Determine whether a problem occurred, or whether a potential problem exists.
  • Step 2.  Capture the specific details on why it is a corrective or preventive action.
  • Step 3.  Determine the root cause of the issue or risk.
  • Step 4.  Engage all of the appropriate stakeholders to ensure sufficient resources are available to resolve the issue.
  • Step 5.  Develop an action plan with owners and due dates to ensure all necessary steps are taken.
  • Step 6.  Take the necessary actions to address the situation.
  • Step 7.  After a reasonable period of time (e.g., 3 months), evaluate the effectiveness of the actions taken.
  • Step 8.  If the problem recurred, determine what activities were ineffective and what steps are required (return to step 1).

Relevant Definitions

Corrective action: Steps taken to correct a problem that has already occurred (i.e., reactive containment and resolution).

Preventive action: Steps taken to prevent a problem from occurring (i.e., proactive risk mitigation).


In a retail flower outlet, a customer ordered delivery of one dozen red roses through a website, prepared as per the specified arrangement (code #234), to arrive before 6:00 PM on the next business day, with the purchase being paid through credit card. No other details were provided.

Based on this, the customer’s requirements were:

  • One dozen red roses
  • Prepared as per the specified arrangement (code #234)
  • Delivered before 6:00 PM on the next business day

There are two key issues to be identified:

  • No address was provided for shipping the flowers
  • The website did not prevent the order from being submitted without this detail

As a result, a corrective action is required to resolve the address issues and may be captured as follows:



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