Pitfalls of Corrective Action Processes

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Pitfalls of Corrective Action Processes

  1. 1. CmpE 203 Fall 2009 Essay 2 Pitfall of Project Management Techniques & Methods Focus Area: Corrective Action Shivanshu Singh <shivanshukumar@gmail.com> SJSU ID: 006488300 CmpE 203 Fall 2009 | Essay 2 | Shivanshu Singh 006488300 Pg 1 of 8
  2. 2. CONTENTS Abstract 3 1 Introduction.......................................................................................................................3 Corrective Action....................................................................................................3 2 The Pitfall..........................................................................................................................3 Lack of a Unified Approach to Corrective Action..................................................3 3 Classification.....................................................................................................................5 4 Analysis.............................................................................................................................6 4.1 Problems and Consequences..............................................................................6 4.2 Suggested Solution.............................................................................................6 5 Conclusion........................................................................................................................7 6 References.........................................................................................................................7 CmpE 203 Fall 2009 | Essay 2 | Shivanshu Singh 006488300 Pg 2 of 8
  3. 3. Abstract Corrective Action is a project management technique or a process / set of activities generally and routinely undertaken as a part of taking corrective measures so as to correct an existing problem in any system and to make sure that such the recurrence of that problem doesn't happen. The technique is employed far and wise by most enterprises and can also be seen in almost anything that we do around us. However there are a number of pitfalls with the existing approach that is being taken by the industry as of today in approaching any corrective action process. Problems exist from there not being any single unified approach to the process of corrective action to following vendor specific approaches. Presented in this paper is the analysis of one such pitfall with the existing approaches to corrective action. 1 Introduction Corrective Action Corrective Action refers to any counter measure taken by any party who seeks Maintenance by the solution to any problem. Maintenance can be of different types: Corrective, Adaptive, Predictive and Corrective. Any Party decides upon taking any Corrective action, based on any evidence and the reason and also the criteria that govern it. It involves one or more counter measures taken to prevent the recurrence of the problem or the reason for the corrective action. At the end of it a log is produced which serves as a basis for verification of the fact that the corrective action has been accomplished and meets the ultimate goal of maintenance. In this paper we examine a pitfall related to Corrective Action, which I call as ‘Lack of Unified Approach to Corrective Action’. We first see what this pitfall is all about and hen we discuss the various aspects in which this can be harmful, followed by a classification of it, whether it is bad or ugly and also what are the good features about it, if any, followed by possible solutions. 2 The Pitfall Lack of a Unified Approach to Corrective Action Corrective Action process is carried out in many areas and across domains. While the basic idea behind the process is the same, organizations still invest hugely in acquiring the required expertise to perform corrective actions in different domains. For the corrective actions being undertaken today, there is no such process out there, which would unify all the different approaches to Corrective Action into one superset from which the desired workflow can be chosen. Rather, different processes and methodologies exist. There maybe some solutions that aim at a generalist approach [1] but none is such that it encompasses the entire spectrum of what any corrective action maybe applied to, and are rather a tool to manage the workflow. This is particularly a problem when trying to perform a corrective action across multiple domains for which unified solutions do not exist. CmpE 203 Fall 2009 | Essay 2 | Shivanshu Singh 006488300 Pg 3 of 8
  4. 4. Also the problem here is that solutions being provided are either too domain specific e.g. for customer experience management only [2] or talking about implementing one solution to any and everything, under the name of best practices [3][4]. By the very nature of what causes the corrective action to be instituted, it may or may not necessarily mean that what worked in one scenario will definitely work in another scenario for another organization with another set of criteria and circumstances. The flaw with the former very specific approach is that if there is a corrective action to be taken place across different departments under one organization, for example, a new business rule has to be enforced throughout an organization that has departments related to customer relations, health case, engineering and more such diverse fields of interest, the organization will have to implement a corrective action separately for each of these departments/units. This may cause certain errors to creep in and there may be issues with a seamless implementation / integration owing to the nature in which the corrective actions were done in the different departments. This can lead to the need for even more number of corrective actions to be taken or may even cause the existing business process to go haywire. Another instance of a similar problem that exists in the way corrective action is being done today is described below: The 8D method of problem solving is a standard approach for identifying and eliminating a recurring problem. While it has been in use in organizations all around the world since a very long time now, we present here why it is not the best way of doing things and how it is flawed, also suggesting a way in which this can be improved. “Step 1 Form an appropriate cross-functional team. The team should include a champion who has the resources and authority to implement the team's solution. Step 2 Define the problem. Step 3 Contain the problem. Protect the customer from the problem. This step can be omitted when 8D is used for a proactive improvement because there is no "problem" (like defective parts). Step 4 Identify the root cause. Step 5 Select a permanent correction. Step 6 Implement the corrective action and verify its effectiveness Step 7 Make the change permanent (standardization). Also share the solution with similar operations. This is best practice deployment. Step 8 Recognize the team's achievement” [5] Here is an excerpt from an article at Metric Stream® which talks about the ‘Corrective Action (CAPA) Management Systems at Innovative Companies’. Gartner and Forrester have both termed the organization as a leader in Enterprise Governance Risk and Compliance Platforms [ 6][7]. However I believe that the basic approach to corrective action system modeling is flawed in the way Metric Stream is taking this forward, using the 8D problem solving approach and this is just CmpE 203 Fall 2009 | Essay 2 | Shivanshu Singh 006488300 Pg 4 of 8
  5. 5. one example of what the industry experts everywhere are considering this to be the nicest way of doing things when clearly it is not. As shown above, the problem with steps 5 to 7 is the way in which corrective action is being taken. The system here hopes to select a permanent correction and then implements the corrective action and also verifies its effectiveness. This raises a concern here as if we follow the regular way the system is developed following the traditional way of software modeling, how can we be so sure about the fact that what we are assuming to be a corrective action is in its essence the corrective action that we were hoping to chalk out? This surely is not a unified approach to corrective action and is very application specific. They also talk about best practices and trying to make this a standard way of doing a corrective action in a certain context. This may not be effective as it is being said it would be. As said before the practice in a certain scenario may not be the ‘best practice’ for another organization or even the same organization in a different context. Relying on this may lead to catastrophic results and increased number of problems than solving any. 3 Classification The Pitfall described here comes under the category of an Ugly pitfall. The pitfall is an ugly one since it restricts the application and interfacing of one organization with that of others’. One may argue that it is not ugly since there may be cases where an application specific approach may work. If the organization or party undertaking a corrective action is really small in size requiring a rather small corrective action with hardly a workflow in place, a very specific approach without bothering about a unified approach can be followed. This is not true though. Lets take the example of a simple everyday use entity: The Power Plug. If all of us were to use different sorts of power plugs, we would never ever be able to business when it comes to electrical appliances. For just to make things work at the minimum expectations level we might need to do rewiring every time we buy something from any electrical store or move from one place to the other, hence restricting the interfacing of one’s business to the other’s. This is a small example, which can be translated into a multi dimensional problem in case of enterprises. There will not be any proper compliance to the set standards if we do not take care of the environment around us and not do corrective action in a unified sense. What I want to convey through this is that whenever we want our policies and procedures to be streamlined with our goals and expectations, we need to make sure that we do it in a way that we are at harmony with our surroundings as such. The best way to do this is by conforming to standards and complying with the various regulations. Doing corrective action in a unified sense automatically enables us to be in sync with the business scene (and standards) around us. CmpE 203 Fall 2009 | Essay 2 | Shivanshu Singh 006488300 Pg 5 of 8
  6. 6. 4 Analysis 4.1 Problems and Consequences The problem that we are looking at is of doing Corrective Action in an application specific sense. Most of the corrective action solutions out there do not offer anything, which can let the user perform this corrective action by taking into consideration the overall business environment that the enterprise works in. The approaches that exist today have a quite narrow vision of the problem and equally narrow ways of implementing the changes required to solve those problems. What we need is a unified way of doing corrective action. If the organization has to implement a corrective action in an organization wide sense with units of varied nature to consider or even if its about a corrective action in just one such department but the organization wants to ensure that the corrective action does not impact other process which the department may have, especially the ones concerning a cross department interaction / workflow, then the need of a unified solution that takes into account the various fields and criteria of interest, should be followed rather than doing it in a narrow and ultra specific sense. Not doing it with a unified approach may even lead to making the system rigid to incorporating changes later, which is bad for any organization in today’s world of rapidly changing business scene. 4.2 Suggested Solution The solution to this pitfall is approaching Corrective Action in a Unified way that keeps in mind the ultimate goals that we have and the goals that we are trying to achieve as a part of the corrective action at hand. We also have to take care of the environment around us when instituting a corrective action and any solution cannot be good enough if we neglect the context and the impacts that it may have on the overall business of the organization as a whole. A possible solution to this problem is modeling the system to architect Corrective Action system through a Knowledge Map (KM) and using the principles of Stability Modeling. The KM would include patterns related to the solutions all possible scenarios that one might run into. Then based upon the context and where it has to be applied, keeping into mind the various constraints and the ‘environment’ as well as the ultimate goals in mind, we can make an organism crawl this KM to generate the architectural pattern that has to be implemented. Doing this ensures that the corrective action system in place conforms to the various regulations and policies, both external and internal and the overall organizational structure is also in harmony with the corrective action being instituted. This approach would be a unified approach than having to deal with the specific implementations for each and every unit in the organization and then trying to club the results of these individual efforts. It ensures that the final goals are streamlined throughout the organization and the goals of the corrective action are implemented in an organization wide sense without impacting the CmpE 203 Fall 2009 | Essay 2 | Shivanshu Singh 006488300 Pg 6 of 8
  7. 7. business function in any undesirable way. Owing to the stability modeling approach, it goes ahead to also ensure that the activities planned for corrective action in-fact are set so as to achieve the goals of the corrective action in question, minimizing / eliminating any side effects that could have creped in otherwise. The actual details of this solution are beyond the scope of this paper and can be discussed in another article. 5 Conclusion In this paper we saw how a certain approach to corrective action can become a pitfall and the various problems associated with it. We see how the lack of a unified approach to corrective action can result into unwanted outcomes or may render the corrective action useless when the environment under consideration is a multi domain environment. If this approach is followed, the organization may fail to streamline the ultimate business output due to the heterogeneity in the way units interface and due to the way they function internally, causing more losses and more problems. We also see the situations where this approach may be okay to go ahead with, i.e. when we do not have to bother about cross department / cross unit workflows and there are no expansion plans as such. Finally we also saw an introduction to a possible solution to this pitfall. 6 References CmpE 203 Fall 2009 | Essay 2 | Shivanshu Singh 006488300 Pg 7 of 8
  8. 8. 1 []customerexpressions.com/cex/cexweb.nsf/%28GetPages%29/2B79DCBEEE8D6D8485256FE8005F40AD 2 [] ohiodesk.com/about/cem.html 3 [] sjrothman.com/Books/corrective-action.html 4 [] samadeussolutions.com/english/practices/bp_audit.htm 5 [] metricstream.com/insights/capaSys.htm (accessed June 2009) 6 [] Gartener® - Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Governance, Risk and Compliance Platforms 7 [] Forrestor® - Forrester WaveT: Enterprise Governance, Risk and Compliance Platforms Q4 2007

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