Corrective Action Reporting Problems - Criteria to determine if CA/PA is required



Hi Y’all,

Here’s the situation. We have purchased a nice Corrective Action Program that we are using to enter all reported problems. The Report Form is completed by the “Reportee” and given to me for entry in the CA database. Because we are basically in the “startup” mode as far as getting our processes identified, I expected a significant amount of “problems” to be reported.

What has happened may be normal, that’s why I’m posting this topic. The amount of problems reported since January of this year has reached 180. 100 of them have occurred since June. Here’s the “Problem” with the problems:
Our Distribution center is comprised of three (3) Inside Sales Persons. They receive all orders and process them through a series of steps that make their way to Shipping and Receiving. Errors such as incorrect part numbers, incorrect B.O.M.’s, not checking availability before promising the Customer Delivery and other types of “missed” processes. The shipping foreman writes up a report on any that Inside Sales does wrong.

Now the Customer calls and complains that he had a missed shipment, or it was late, or it had the wrong parts, etc..Sales determines, because they usually get the call, that Shipping made a mistake. They now issue a report. We have a “Battle of the Reports” going on. You write one on me, I write two on you. Everybody says that the reporting system is flawed because it’s become personal. I say, ‘Where are they getting the ammunition to carry on this war?” 65% of the problem’s point of detection were by the Customer. The rest are inter department points of detection. My concern is the weight given to some problems. For example: Sales omits the “Ship By Date” on the pick slip. Shipping reports it. Another: Customer comes in for his order. Shipping hasn’t received the picking slip. Shipping reports it. Little things, but the Customer is delayed.

All reports are distributed to the appropriate department for completion of the Corrective Action and Preventive Action Sections. Their responses are a whole different subject.

Should I continue to require all problems, no matter how small (even small problems can be imagined to have an effect on delivery and Customer Satisfaction if you keep on “supposing”. What’s small?

My intentions are that this reporting is a training exercise on problem reporting with the result being that the process(s) will be fine-tuned eventually. Management has asked for all the data and is prepared to drop the hammer. Has any body had this experience? Is there criteria you use to determine if CA/PA is required?

I have told all the people involved that I will expunge (Keep hard copies) from the database when we reduce the amount of reports, which indicates that the system is working. After all, the reporting is new to them. I consider it as training, new business, new people, new processes, etc.. When we arrive at the CA/PA processes in our scheduled assault on complying with ISO9001:2000, we will make it official with correct CAPA responses.
It’s long winded, but, I wanted you to get the flavor.

[This message has been edited by energy (edited 23 August 2001).]


I went through the exact same thing. I called it CAR wars. (we call them CARs here). At the beginning it does become a war if one is assigned against you, you assign two more.
I developed our Corrective Action system so that only Manager's could be assigned a CAR. They of course could have the responsible person within their department do the investigation and so on, but the actual Champion had to be a Manager. That put a stop to it. When Manager's started to receive 10-15 CARs a day, they took notice and it also made people a little more careful about the CARs they were issuing. I also do a weekly chart of CARs per department here that gets published to Senior Management, that helps get them closed in a a timely manner also.
Good Luck with your new system....

Al Dyer


This is not to be taken as smart aleck remark,

Some companies use the corrective action system do document everything from a customer complaint to a runny nose. In a previous life it was decided that anything that went wrong had to go through a formal corrective action process, In the long run we had more corrective actions than people could reasonably address.

What we did was to define which "problems" were true corrective actions (those which directly affected the customer) and those that could be handle under a preventive action or a continuous improvement.

Maybe it all comes down to customer satisfaction balanced against internal resources, Too many people believe that any problem must go through the corrective action process, one has to also consider effectiveness and applicability.

Hope rambling didn't hurt more than help!


E Wall

Just Me!
Trusted Information Resource
It looks like a bit of process improvement is needed in sales and shipping as well as the CA process. But maybe more important in this instance is application of 'TEAMWORK'.

Our criteria is split into 3 caetgories Supplier, Internal and external. From what you are describing it's mostly 'internal' issues that are affecting the customer, so I'll only go into that:
Request for Corrective Action may be initiated as a result of nonconformities relating to process and product, audit findings, improvement teams, management review meetings, or review of standard quality records.

Even with this broad to date we have only 12 CA written this calender year. Of course I gripe that the system is underutilized (in some instances) but overall the low # are due to process maturity and teamwork.

Does sales have anyone reviewing SO before it goes to shipping?
Where are they getting information from to promise customers product?
Consider software that links sales/production or inventory control/shipping.

Shipping: there a review to see if parts packed = parts ordered? Our product shipping by it's nature requires involvment of several people and each is required to verify SO part# & Qty to actual.

Rather than 'report' missing information - STOP the handling and kick it back.

Shipping could track 'receipt of SO data' so if questions arise later they have evidence to refer to.

Hope this helps a bit.
Save a few trees!

Jim Biz


Been there - Seen that - Multiple writeups fo noncoms on single 5 cent items (manager wars - I'll write on on you - you write 2 on me - etc.) EVENTUALLY NO-ONE writes anything due to being pushed for follow-up action they feel is non value added.

What we did

- split our "nonconformance reporting" and Corrective action reporting in two sections

Everyone can (and does) report noncoms - the reports are presented to an Incedent Review Board - who then decides IF/WHEN a formal CA should be issued - the board tracks progress of the investigation and "Oversees the implementation".

?? what program are you using to report all of this - we have tried a couple & found that a simple two spreadsheet system does the trick - one for noncom reporting (presented to the board to determine formal Trends and Repeat/risk info) and another to track progress on the CA investigation information.


[This message has been edited by Jim Biz (edited 23 August 2001).]

Fire Girl


I hear ya brother! That was what it was like here, when I first started.

Here's the deal:

Anybody can issue an NCR for any little 'ol thing they please. However, I often haul their little asses into quality board meetings to have them "plead their cases". That certainly cut down on the number of NCR's. If I start seeing a trend on NCR's I issue a CAR, which goes through management. That doesn't go over well.

I think I would personally always issue an NCR for customer issues. The thought here is that if a problem made it through the whole system without being noticed, that's really bad!!!! Better fix it.

Fire Girl

Alf Gulford

Just a 'me-too.'

Like Jim Biz, we have a group for each product line that looks at the incoming reports and determines which ones actually need CA as opposed to those that are insignificant or already being dealt with.

Before these groups, every single report demanded CA and the system (such as it was) ground to a halt. Sounds like you need a similar filter.

And Eileen's references to reviews (a la 4.3) are important.



Thanks all. I agree with all the posts. Do the errors impact the customer? As I stated, 70% or more were detected by the customer. Of the internal reporting, would they impact the customer if gone undetected? 99% would be my guess. If nothing else, people are beginning to look more closely at their outputs. E.Wall, we need all those things you mention. Cross checking, more thorough reviews of Customer requirements, B.O.M.'s, etc.
Jim Biz, the program is called CA5/Corporate Corrective Action sold by Harrington Group out of Orlando. Actually, it's subtitle is Issue Management System. Great little program.
Al D., yup they are reporting everything, regardless. My problem is that "everything" at this point of the game can effect the Customer if not detected, and the majority are reported by the Customer. Not good. We offer free freight, credit to smooth things over and have not lost any Customers that I have been made aware of. Believe me, in this business, the lost of a single Customer due to snafus would be a major event. Anybody else that I didn't mention, thank you for the input. Tally Ho!


Super Moderator
Trusted Information Resource
Good morning all!

I have seen the CAR Wars before. It isn't a pretty sight at all. I don't know if experience will help you but...

After living in the battle zone for awhile and seeing CARs stack up like crazy, I went to the managers of the two departments (sales and shipping in my case also). I set up some meetings that had both sales and shipping personnel, I would suggest 3 of each as a max. Each group got an allotment of time to address the problems that they were having and how the other group could help.

Shipping might say that "they loaded the material per the instructions on the sales order, but the customer refused the truck because it was not loaded correctly." "Could the sales department initiate a review of all shipping instructions to make sure that they are current?"

Basically, what happened is that when sales reviewed the requirements with our customers, they found that there had been a lot of changes in 15 years that were not amended. Shipping also reviewed the new and improved versions of the instructions and found that a lot of instructions fell into categories. What we ended up doing was re-writing portions of our computer system to create some fields such as max shipping weight, color codes, packaging requirements etc. This took the place of everything being typed into a memo field and cleaned up a whole lot of problems.

It took most of a year to go through the entire process, but in the long run we ended up with two groups of people that became allies instead of enemies, a new respect for what others do and also, and probably most important in my mind, all of these people have a greater respect for the intelligence and willingness to work as a team of all the people involved.

Sorry, I made a short story long of luck, always try to turn a problem into an improvement opportunity and never think that the average hourly worker doesn't have any good ideas.



Hi Everybody,
Gee, it's great to be back. What a spiffy looking site, and it was done in much less than forty days. Bet it wasn't free, either!:)
Back to the topic. I notified all the parties in the CAR WARS that since we are in the start up mode, we will catagorize the 185 problem reports by department, type of problem, etc.. and issue a final report to Management. We will then purge the data base and start over, officially. This was considered practice and the suggested Corrective Actions and, mainly Preventive Actions, fall far short of what could be considered effective. Like " we shipped the customer the correct part with free freight and he's happy now." Yea right. That's going to go over big with an auditor. Or, " I met with the customer last night and we went over their recent complaints about us. He understands and is generally satisfied with our service. There is no problem." Yea right. Everyone knows that they have a second chance. We reduce the number of problem reports because we got better. Yea right. All reports will be reviewed for good CA/PA or they will be kicked back or up to Senior Management where they will get high visibility. Of course, the printed copies prior to purging the database will remain in my secret compartment somewhere within reach, for reference. We all have our "don't go there" places, right?
Marc, Great job!!

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