Corrective Action vs Preventive Action vs Defect Repair – projectcubicle

Corrective Action vs Preventive Action vs Defect Repair

Corrective Action vs Preventive Action vs Defect Repair

In the Quality Management System, corrective action eliminates the cause of nonconformity after problems arise. Preventive actions focus on eliminating the causes of potential nonconformities before problems arise. On the other hand, defect repair is a repairing process to replace the defective part of a product. If you know their key differences, you will be sure how and when to use them. Understanding their difference will help professionals gain risk-based thinking and reduce costs. In this article, we are going to discuss the topic; corrective action vs preventive action vs defect repair in detail with examples.

Defect Repair

When the product or deliverable does not meet the quality plans or requirements, defect repair process should be implemented. You replace or repair the defective part of the product in this process.

For instance, let’s say that you are manufacturing auto spare parts. You noticed that some of your products are beyond the quality limits. Their thickness is greater than the others. You will make an inspection and decide if it can be repaired. If it is possible, you will take action to correct them. If it is not possible to repair, you will replace them.

Corrective Action

Corrective action can be conceivable as a future response to the defect repair process. The aim of corrective action is to restrain the reoccurrence of the problem. For instance, let say that you made an inspection and detected some defective products. You implemented a defect repair process and corrected the defective parts of the product.

You don’t want to encounter the same problem. So that you must detect the root cause of the problem, implement a solution to ensure that the defects do not occur again.

In other words, corrective action is a reactive process that seeks to detect the root cause of the problem to stop its reoccurrence.

In project management, corrective actions should be taken when the project has deviated from the planned scope, schedule, cost, or quality requirements. They are used to bring the project’s performance back into alignment.

Preventive Action

Unlike corrective action, preventive action is a proactive process that is taken to avoid any anticipated future defects that may appear in the product. For instance, let’s say that you will start manufacturing auto spare parts. Before starting the manufacturing process, you analyzed your system and procedures to eliminate the factors that may affect the quality of the product. So that the expected defects could be prevented.

In project management, preventive actions are proactive in nature that are implemented to ensure the project doesn’t deviate from the baselines.

Corrective Action vs Preventive Action vs Defect Repair

Many people can easily understand the defect repair concept. However, there is little difference between corrective action and preventive action. Therefore a lot of people, who are not familiar with the Quality Management System, find it difficult to understand their key differences.

Differences Corrective Action Preventive Action
When it is used? After Problems Arise Before Problems Arise
Starts With Identification of Root Cause of a Problem Risk Assessment
Nature Reactive Proactive

The below examples will help you to know when to use them.

Corrective Action Example

Assume that we are building a taxiway apron and we planned to use a batch plant with a capacity of 200 m3/day. Once concrete pouring begins, we realize that the capacity of our batch plant is not sufficient and we are now behind the schedule. Bringing a high-capacity batch plant is a corrective action.

Preventive Action Example

We noticed that the silica fume admixture that we are using in our concrete mix design is very expensive and we are bringing this admixture from 500 miles away. As per our market investigation, we find another supplier which is closer to our worksite so the price will be lower. This is a preventive action.

Defect Repair Example

Upon preliminary inspection of the concrete strength, we find that the strength is lower than planned. We asked our batch engineer to change the mix design. This is a defect repair.

Corrective actions and preventive actions are activities done to provide the project performance to align with the baseline and have no direct relationship to the quality of the outputs. But defect repair activities have direct relationships to the quality of the outputs.

In this simple example, bringing a high-capacity batch plant, finding another supplier for silica fume, and improving the concrete strength are under the responsibility of the project team. These actions would not affect the project scope and baselines. However, if the client changes the design or demands to increase the thickness of the concrete, that would be a scope change and the baselines would be updated.

In project management, change requests may involve preventive actions, corrective actions, and defect repairs. However, in scope changes, you may update the project scope, baseline schedule, and baseline budget. Preventive actions, corrective actions, and defect repairs should not be used to justify a baseline change.


The defect repair process is used to repair the products or deliverables that do not meet the quality requirements. In corrective action, you deal with the non-conformance events that happened in the past. You determine the root cause of the problem to restrain the reoccurrence of it. However, in preventive action, you deal with the potential non-conformance that may happen in the future.

The costs related to defect repair, preventive action, and corrective action are internal to the organization. The cost of scope changes that the client has asked for is paid by the client. Change requests must be documented and updated in the change management system.

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