How to Take Corrective Action Against ISO Non-conformance


What is ISO corrective action?

In every business mistakes will happen, but it’s how you learn from these mistakes that counts. It’s what sets your business apart and helps you to continually improve.

So, just before we dive into the nitty-gritty of how to take corrective action against ISO non-conformance, let’s look at some terms that will help us get started.

ISO correction definition: Action to eliminate a detected non-conformity. In simple terms, it’s all about fixing the issue.

Whilst ISO corrective action is about finding the root cause of the problem…

ISO corrective action definition: Action to eliminate the cause of a non-conformity and to prevent recurrence.


Why it’s important to have a ISO corrective action procedure

It’s super important to have a good corrective action procedure in place. Without one, non-conformances and problems can be missed and so can opportunities to improve. And if problems are left unresolved, they could compromise the quality of work and cost you time and money.

A corrective action procedure shows you’re committed to finding the root cause of any issues, minimising risks, and protecting your employees. It helps to avoid errors and prevent the same issues from happening again. A corrective action procedure can also help to strengthen your processes and boost efficiency.


How to take ISO corrective action

There are several steps to an effective corrective action procedure. Let’s take a look at these in more detail below.


The first step is to identify and document the issue. There are several ways you might identify an issue, this could be through customer complaints, an inspection, or an internal audit.

Once a problem’s been identified it needs to be recorded in a non-conformance report (NCR) or corrective action report (CAR). In the report you’ll need to identify the impact of the non-conformance and who will be affected by it.


Once an issue has been identified your next step is to prepare to tackle the problem by putting together a response team that can work together to find the root cause and create a solution. The team will evaluate the situation and decide the need for action and the level of action required.

The size of your response team can be any size you want but it will probably depend on the size of your business. It’s best to have a cross-functional team that includes not only senior management but team members who do the actual job as they’ll have first-hand knowledge of the processes being investigated. Good problem-solving is likely to include multiple perspectives so with a team of several people you’ll also need to have a team leader.

Find the cause

Dig deep! Finding the root cause of an issue will help you stop it from happening again. Time for your response team to carry out an in-depth investigation of the circumstances that created the problem, otherwise known as root-cause analysis (RCA). Using root-cause analysis will help you correctly identify the underlying reason and not just address the surface-level issue. So, how do you make sure you find the cause of the issue? There are lots of problem-solving techniques that can help you get to the bottom of a non-conformance. One of the simplest is known as the five whys.

The first ‘why’ starts the process by asking why the problem occurred. Start a fact-finding exercise to answer this question. For each answer, you’ll ask the question ‘why’. Keep doing this until you have asked five ‘whys’, each one relating to the answers to the previous question.

Here’s an example:

  1. A delivery note hasn’t been signed because a member of staff released the product without following the release and dispatch procedure.
  2. It was released without following the procedure because the staff member was new.
  3. The new staff member did this because they didn’t have the relevant training.
  4. They didn’t receive the right training because there isn’t an adequate training programme in place.
  5. There isn’t adequate training because the training procedure is out of date.


ISO Corrective action procedure

Now it’s time for a plan of action. The ISO corrective action procedure involves looking at possible actions and deciding the best course of action and how to implement the corrective action. So, once your team has got to the root cause of the problem you should have a good idea of what permanent corrective action to take (PCA). This could be a change to a policy, process or procedure. Whatever it is, the PCA should stop the non-conformance from happening again.

You’ll also need to test and verify the corrective action to check it’s working as intended. Your review can then be included in your non-conformity report and can be carried out via a meeting, observation session or follow-up with relevant members of your team.


The main goal of corrective action is preventing recurrence. So, making sure you have an effective corrective action procedure in place is the best way to prevent issues from happening again. That way not only can you correct the existing problem, but you can put controls in place to prevent a similar problem in the future.

Some ISO preventive action examples could be performing regular maintenance checks on equipment or introducing new training programmes for employees. Internal audits will also play their part in preventive action.


Take ISO corrective action today!

Running your integrated management system while running everything else in your business can feel like another thing to keep on top of. But you don’t have to manage it alone, we’re here to help! And don’t forget, our ISO Mentor training service is always on hand with interactive workshops designed to enhance compliance and avoid non-conformances.

Get in touch to find out how we can help you stay on top of your management system, call 0333 344 3646 or email [email protected] – we’d love to hear from you.

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About the author

  • Name:

    Serena Cooper

  • Company:

    Citation ISO Certification

  • Bio:

    Serena has worked for Citation ISO Certification since 2022, writing creative and informative content on ISO certification and consultation to help businesses reach their potential.


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