The Pain of Non Conformance

Whether a non conformance is raised as part of a third party assessment visit or internal finding, it often means additional work for the person assigned with closing the issue.  As non-conformance isn’t an everyday occurrence, it’s not always easy to complete.

I’d like to take this pain in bite size chunks, looking at:

  • What does the term non-conformance actually mean?
  • Some terms in real English
  • Short term and long term actions
  • Completing the dreaded form
  • Getting someone else to do it


What is a non-conformity?

A non-conformity can be classified as something that has happened that shouldn’t have – so something that could have been prevented.  Non-conformities are often raised where an outcome of an activity is not as predicted or desired.  They are often seen as a negative rather than an opportunity.

Non-conformities can often be used to drive action internally in your organisation.


Tech terms in non tech language

Corrective action (short term action) – an action to be taken immediately to stop the problem (i.e. problem – water pouring out of a burst pipe; action – turn off at the mains)

Root cause – why did the issue or problem really occur?  Often, it isn’t the first thing that pops into our minds that is the real root of the problem.  If in doubt ask yourself: why, why, why?  Why did the pipe burst? Immediate answer, because it was cold and it froze.  Why did it freeze? Answer, because it wasn’t insulated. Why wasn’t it insulated?  Answer, because the specification didn’t call for it.

Preventive action (long term action) – what will need to be put in place to stop the problem from occurring again?  As in the example above, it would be a change in the specification, oh! and the need to go and check all the pipes are already fitted.


The form

Often the non-conformance form will use the technical terms above.  It’s important to remember that the non-conformance form is a starter for 10, and may not always be the final solution.  It is the proposed actions that will be undertaken.  It may be that on further investigation of the root cause, the preventive action may change.


Getting someone else to do it

We do this stuff as a day job.  We’re more than happy to help complete your forms and understand the root cause of any problems.  Feel free to drop us a line – it never costs to ask, and often it never costs for us to help.


Contact us today 

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