Corrective Actions in ISO 9001:2015: A Quality Manager’s Guide

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Published November 3rd, 2020

What does ISO 9001:2015 say about corrective actions?

Corrective Actions are a specific set of steps used to help improve overall quality management by eliminating process discrepancies and preventing recurrences of root causes. They are implemented to identify, resolve, and prevent issues of quality non-conformity.

In prior ISO 9001 standards, Corrective and Preventive Actions (also known as CAPA) were separate action plans that each had their own requirements. Summarized in a CAPA Report, they outline the plans on how to fix the existing problem immediately and how to prevent it in the future. However, the latest ISO 9001:2015 standards (Clause 10.2) eliminated the need for predefined procedures for preventive actions. Instead, it emphasized the importance of having a risk-based approach throughout the process, rather than “preventive actions” being done and documented separately.
In this simplified guide for quality managers, we present 5 steps on how to implement corrective actions that are compliant with ISO 9001:2015, with the help of a compliance software.

1. Determine if the situation calls for corrective action.

Determine if the situation calls for corrective action

Not every issue warrants a corrective action. The purpose of issuing a corrective action plan is to identify and resolve problems that are systemic, something that endangers a company’s Quality Management System software.
Quality managers and their teams can choose an appropriate risk analysis technique to determine the severity of a non-conformity and decide if a corrective action is needed. The most frequently used approaches are FMEA and HAZOP. This is a good way to inculcate risk management right at the start of the process and help qualify the level of risk and impact an issue brings to the organization, product, and/or services.
Once a corrective action is deemed necessary, the quality team and process owners can collaborate and use an ISO 9001:2015 – compliant corrective action report template to document their plan’s progress.


2. Conduct root-cause analysis (if applicable).

Conduct root-cause analysis

Root-cause analysis (RCA) is a methodical approach in analyzing a problem and identifying the root causes to solve counterproductive issues or events. It is based on the belief that issues are best solved by eliminating the root cause/s, as opposed to merely addressing the apparent symptom. RCA is best used for issues that cannot be resolved quickly, are repetitive, and systemic.
ISO 9001:2015 highly recommends engaging cross-functional team members and leaders throughout the planning of corrective actions. Quality teams can encourage this by using a compliance software to facilitate collaboration, even when they’re in different locations. The 5 Why’s and/or 8 Disciplines of Problem-Solving (8D) approaches are good root-cause analysis techniques that can help them work together on crafting a good problem statement, identifying the root cause/s, and brainstorming on appropriate solutions to address non-conformance.


3. Work on the corrective action plan as a team.

Work on the corrective action plan as a team

Identifying the root causes and their effect can help formulate the most appropriate corrective action/s. In a corrective action plan, there are two key actions: a “correction” recommendation to immediately eliminate the detected non-conformity and the corrective action itself. Apart from the details about the non-conformity and the recommended corrective action, specific details should also be provided, such as implementation timeline, key people and signatories, and costs. Once finalized and reviewed, the digital corrective action plan can be shared to key people to standardize information.


4. Communicate and implement the corrective action.

Communicate and implement the corrective action

Enhance leadership involvement and encourage them to communicate the change and the rationale behind it. Notify key people via the QMS software about their assigned tasks. Provide a communication channel where anyone can give regular feedback while the corrective action is being implemented. These all factor in and determine the success of a corrective action plan’s implementation.


5. Conduct follow-ups to ensure effectiveness of corrective action.

Conduct follow-ups to ensure effectiveness of corrective action

IS0 9001:2015 requires organizations to review the effectiveness of corrective actions and update risk levels and possible opportunities. After the implementation, the process owners and quality team should wait a suitable amount of time and conduct follow-up reviews.
Additional fields in the digital corrective action plan are available so quality managers can input comments during the review. To document results, they can use QMS software features, such as attaching photos and notes, to provide clearer evidence on the effects of the implemented corrective action.
To implement corrective action plans that are compliant with ISO 9001:2015, quality managers can use a collaborative compliance software like iAuditor to manage their implementation — from root-cause analysis to review of effectiveness of corrective action plans.


John Derick Flores

SafetyCulture Staff Writer

Dirk is a contributing writer for SafetyCulture who has 3+ years of experience being a Safety Officer in an international airline. Over the course of his tenure, he worked on projects involving training management, ramp safety inspections, quality & safety certification audits, and safety promotion programs. Further, he is interested in maximizing the power of technology to help make the world a better place.