Corrective vs Preventive Actions for PMP Exam


Corrective vs Preventive Actions for PMP Exam

During project execution, there are inevitable change requests. In addition to change requests that are brought about by scope changes, there are also a number of other reasons, e.g. corrective actions, preventive actions and defect repairs. In this article, we will discuss about Corrective Actions and Preventive Actions, their similarities and differences.

While the project baselines (Scope baseline, Schedule baseline & Cost baseline, etc.) will sometimes be updated owing to considerable changes in the project scope, corrective and preventive measures should never affect the baselines.

Corrective Actions vs Preventive Actions

  • Corrective Actions : these are actions taken when the project deviates from the scope, schedule, cost or quality plan in order to bring the project performance back to the baselines. Corrective actions are reactive actions.
    • These are actions taken when non-conformances have already been detected to rectify the cause of the issue.
  • Preventive Actions: these are actions taken when the project is likely to trend away from the scope, schedule, cost or quality plan to ensure the project performance is aligned to the baselines. Preventive actions are proactive actions.
    • These are actions taken to prevent issues/problems from occurring in future.

Illustrated Example

Suppose you are the project manager of building a production plant. Mid-way in the production plant building project, you have noticed that the time taken to build the building may be longer than expected owing to the possible frequent occurrence adverse weather this year. You try to squeeze more time by asking the machinery to be installed before all the floors have been built. By doing so, you have ensured the project to be finished within the original schedule. The action taken is Preventive Action.

During the installation and testing of the production machinery, you found that the products created from the machine do not meet the requirements documented in the project plan. The team takes a considerable time solving the problem which results in the late delivery of the machine and may cause the whole project to deliver late. You try to compress the schedule by asking another team to work concurrently on site for the rest two machines in order to the installation schedule on time. The actions taken are Corrective Actions.

Which is Preferred?

Given PMI always prefers the project managers to be proactive in their roles, preventive actions are always preferred. Project Managers should work hard to anticipate and identify any likely occurrence of issues through proactive measures and respond promptly to prevent it from ever occurring.

Preventive actions will ensure the project to proceed smoothly and follow the baselines closely.

Corrective Actions, Preventive Actions and Defect Repairs

Defect repairs are actions taken when the deliverable does not meet the agreed quality requirements if the deliverable can still be rectified. Otherwise, a complete rework is needed to create the deliverables from scratches. Both defect repairs and rework impose a high cost of quality to the project and are least preferred. Prevention has the lowest cost of quality.

Take the production plant project again, you have delivered the plant to the client but was found that one production machine fail to produce the products as required in the contract. It was found out that the wrong kind of components have been used. You need to repair the defects by dismantling part of the plant and install the machine again (defect repairs). To make matters worse, a floor of the plant suddenly collapsed while you carried out the defect repair and it was found that the concrete used in building the plant was sub-standard. Your company is responsible for dismantling the whole plant and build it up again (rework). [Hopefully as you are working your way to PMP®, you know the most proper way to manage projects and these errors will never happen.]

On the other hand, corrective actions and preventives actions are activities done (usually to project processes) to ensure the project performance align with the baselines and have no direct relationship to the quality of the final products.

recommended PMP resourcesAdditional free resources: 46+ Commonly Confused Term Pairs with detailed explanations. If you found this article useful, you may wish to reference other Commonly Confused Term articles.

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Edward Chung

Edward Chung aspires to become a full-stack web developer and project manager. In the quest to become a more competent professional, Edward studied for and passed the PMP Certification, ITIL v3 Foundation Certification, PMI-ACP Certification and Zend PHP Certification. Edward shares his certification experience and resources here in the hope of helping others who are pursuing these certification exams to achieve exam success.

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April 9, 2014