Difference Between Corrective Action and Preventive Action

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: September 15, 2023


Difference Between Corrective Action and Preventive Action

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Any company that wishes to keep its customers satisfied and retain a positive reputation needs to practice quality management. You must have a system in place that can detect and address any issue if you want to ensure the quality of your goods or services. Here is where the debate between corrective and preventive intervention arises. Because they make it easier to find and fix issues, corrective and preventive action is crucial for quality management systems. You can therefore continuously raise the caliber of your goods or services by employing these procedures.  This article deals with how these procedures differ from one another. Why are they both crucial to your quality management system (QMS)?

Corrective Action vs Preventive Action

Corrective action deals with finding solutions to issues as they arise. It is used following the occurrence of a problem. Finding the source of a problem and implementing measures in place to stop it from happening again. These are the two steps in the problem-solving process.

Preventive action deals with finding solutions to issues before they arise. It all comes down to spotting possible problems and taking action to stop them before they start.

The effectiveness of quality management systems depends on both corrective and preventive action. While preventive action helps you avoid problems in the first place, corrective action deals with issues that have already arisen. Both of these procedures can help you maintain customer satisfaction while continuously improving your goods and services.

If a nonconformity has occurred is the primary distinction between corrective and preventive actions. When a nonconformity arises, the quality manager must recognize it, assess it, and decide whether remedial action needs to be taken. If so, a Corrective Action Preventive Action (CAPA) incident is set off, and the quality manager must complete a CAPA form and adhere to the procedure. To ascertain the source of the nonconformity and create an action plan to prevent a recurrence, a root cause analysis should be carried out.

Difference Between Corrective and Preventive Action (In tabular form)

MeaningCorrective actions are a series of steps used to pinpoint the underlying causes of an issue and discover remedies for its effects.Preventive actions are a series of steps performed to recognize potential risks that may have an impact on operations and develop plans to reduce those risks.
Point of UseCorrective actions are taken after issues have already arisen to address the effects and lower further risks.To avert issues, preventive actions are made before they emerge.
ProcessInvestigations, audits, and analyses of potential risks serve as the foundation for preventive actions.Identification of the root causes of an existing problem is the first step in the corrective action process.
NatureThese actions are reactive in nature.These actions are proactive in nature.

What are Corrective Actions?

A corrective action plan identifies a problem and makes use of the tools at hand to reduce symptoms. Finding a problem’s root cause and fixing it are the primary objectives of corrective action. Corrective action typically addresses serious issues, persistent issues, supply challenges, risks to the public’s health and safety, or circumstances when a client wants a modification in form, function, or fit. In HR departments, corrective action is utilized to inform staff members of the expected standards of conduct and performance. Corrective measures are implemented when efforts like coaching and performance evaluations are unsuccessful.

Corrective actions provide several advantages, including setting a benchmark for future development and events, empowering teams, outlining procedures for resolving problems, increasing openness in operations, and doing away with the need for a problem-solving wheel. Even while it has advantages, there are also negatives that can occur. It can turn into a bureaucratic exercise where action requests are made for insignificant occurrences if properly executed. Also, there is a chance of concentrating on the minor causes rather than the major ones.

Instead of merely correcting a small error, the aim of corrective action is to address a systematic issue that must be addressed. Hence, a leader should take corrective action when a systematic problem is identified. Leaders should consider and evaluate on the following basis:

  • Key performing indicators’ effectiveness.
  • Review of the records.
  • Employee feedback and welcoming suggestions from them.
  • Assessing flaws of systematic issues from audit findings.

Process of Corrective Action

  • Determine and record the primary reason for the nonconformity.
  • In order to ensure that no such nonconformity occurs, the entire system is scanned.
  • Assess the impact that the nonconformity might have had on a good or service before it was discovered.
  • By demanding the customer’s return and informing him of the flaw, downgrading the product, or scrapping it, depending on the situation’s seriousness.
  • Establishing a thorough follow-up to ensure that the remedy is successful and that there is no danger of the issue reoccurring.

Implementation of Corrective Actions

Doing corrective action is as simple as sticking to your plan. Do each of the given actions, ensure that it is completed effectively, and assess whether any modifications have resulted in any new threats that require additional attention. Once more, to better understand how implementation should go, it can be useful to think of your corrective action plan as a project plan. This kind of tool can also demonstrate which jobs can be finished simultaneously and which ones need to wait until others have finished.

Example of Corrective Action

If someone cut themselves on the corner of a chair and understands that the chair’s sharp corners were to fault, he takes steps to have the table’s corners rounded off to prevent any more injuries. This includes the procedures needed to alter the design such that all ensuing tables have rounded corners.

What are Preventive Actions?

Predicting potential issues and developing plans to address them appropriately are both components of preventive action. It is frequently used to spot potential disparities in a business before they even happen so that preventative steps can be taken. Analysis, internal audits, a review of consumer feedback, and input from staff members at all levels are all part of the identification process. Investigations are conducted in stages, analyses are reviewed, and it is taken if additional action is required.

 To get to the bottom of a possible process problem, preventive intervention is used. In a management system, preventive action (PA) is described as “the actions done by the organization to eliminate the source of a prospective process nonconformity.” You are taking preventive action if you detect potential issues that might rise in a process, investigate the potential causes, and then take steps to address the issue before it arises.

Process of Preventive Action

  • Identifying potential issues that can rise in your process or product is the first step in mapping out potential non-conformities. This can be accomplished using a variety of techniques, including brainstorming and FMEA (Failure Modes and Effects Analysis).
  • Make a plan of action: Develop a plan of action in advance for any potential non-conformities.
  • Standardized management practices.
  • Clearer operational guidance.
  • Procedure reviews.
  • Constant contact amongst the teams/ departments that are involved.
  • Additional training and adequate instructions.
  • Management evaluation.

Example of Preventive Action

If someone learns that a chair’s sharp edges are to blame for the risk of someone getting wounded (even though no one has been hurt), they just round the chair’s edges and change future designs to remove the risk.

What Preventive Actions can be taken?

Preventive healthcare practices are extremely similar to preventive actions. Both are expensive, and neither is enjoyable, but if you are willing to pay the short-term price of stability over the long run, they both offer long-term worth. For instance, in the prior example if you think that despite spending money on rounding the chair edges, you will pay attention to not get hurt by the corners, here you focus on the short-term price stability and ignores the benefits of rounding the edges in the long-term.

Having stated the following are some examples of preventive measures that may be able to aid in preventing non-conformity problems:

  • Examining the products and materials that vendors give. Regular testing and upkeep of equipment to guarantee accurate calibration.
  • Alerts being included in procedures via control charts or monitoring statistics. Programs for thorough training with employee input.
  • Obtaining process evaluations from line employees.

Importance of Corrective Action and Preventive Action (CAPA)

The objective of the corrective and preventive action subsystem is to collect data, assess data, identify and investigate product and quality issues, then take the necessary corrective and/or preventive action to ensure that they don’t occur again. Corrective and preventive actions must be verified or validated and communicated to the appropriate parties, supported by relevant data for management review, and documented in order to effectively address product and quality problems, and prevent or minimize device failure. A quality systems subsystem for corrective and preventive action is among its most important elements.

Making CAPA Sustainable

Repeated issues are a blatant indication that not everyone is doing things correctly. Failure to apply the lessons from a corrective action is one problem. To be genuinely proactive, one must examine FMEAs after a quality failure to spot gaps and then apply that risk information to comparable product lines and procedures for all clients.

The fact that manufacturers frequently skip the key check stage in the plan-do-check-act cycle is another significant issue. Verification is crucial to prevent reverting to old habits, especially when corrective and preventative actions depend on people adhering to a particular (and perhaps novel) approach.

In the end, your willingness to commit to continual verification will determine the extent of your problem-solving skills. The cornerstone of continuous improvement is holding onto the benefits of corrective and preventive action, ensuring you’re always progressing on solid footing.

Differences Between Corrective and Preventive Actions (In Points)

  • Corrective action can be defined as a step made after a problem arises to prevent it from happening again whereas preventive action is when steps are made to avoid a situation where the issue has not yet materialized but there is a chance it could do so in the future.
  • While corrective action is a reactive strategy because it focuses on what has already been done whereas preventative action places attention on what might happen.
  • After the flaw is found, corrective action is taken whereas preventive action is taken before the fault is discovered.
  • While taking corrective action, root-cause analysis comes first; however. When taking preventive action, risk analysis and assessment come first.
  • Proper record keeping, including documentation, is necessary for corrective action whereas only documentation is necessary for taking preventative action.
  • To stop actual nonconformity from happening again, corrective action is taken whereas preventive measures are taken to address potential nonconformity in order to stop it from happening in the first place.


In a nutshell, the components of the quality management system put in place in the firm are corrective action and preventive action. Corrective action is dependent on a past nonconformance occurrence, whereas preventive action focuses on preventing a nonconformance event from happening in the future. Although preventive measures are less expensive than remedial measures, they can also be seen as a waste of time and other resources if the anticipated catastrophe does not materialize.

If you study a problem that resulted in a nonconformity, investigate its causes until you identify the root of the problem- which was the first link in the chain- and then take steps to resolve this root cause so that it cannot happen again, you have solved the issue. The corrective action plan is fundamentally no different from any other project plan you would create for your company. Setting deadlines, resource needs, and completion dates for the corrective action is essential for controlling expectations. It is crucial to note that a provision in the ISO standards specifies that corrective actions must be appropriate to the gravity of the harm caused by the non-conformities. It is therefore not anticipated that you will spend a lot of time and money correcting a small problem.


  • https://corpbiz.io/learning/difference-between-corrective-action-and-preventive-action/
  • https://www.datamyte.com/corrective-action-vs-preventive-action/


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"Difference Between Corrective Action and Preventive Action." Diffzy.com, 2024. Tue. 09 Apr. 2024. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-corrective-action-and-preventive-action-1300>.

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