Non-conformities – what are they and why do we need to check for them?

What is a non-conformity?

A non-conformity is a process or activity which doesn’t fulfil its intended purpose, or where there has been a failure to follow the procedures outlined in your Management System. For example, a documented complaints procedure may highlight recurring product or service issues that could point towards a non-conformity.

  • Identify – Train all members of your team to spot any process or action (or lack thereof) within the business that does not perform as intended.
  • Record – Ensure that all instances of non-conformity are recorded in a log or register.
  • Address – As well as performing any corrective actions necessary to address the non-conformity, Management need to review the log/register, assess the effectiveness of the corrective actions taken and determine how to prevent them from reoccurring.

Why do businesses need to check for non-conformities?

For Organisations with a Management System in place, identifying any non-conformities will serve several purposes:

  • Ensuring adherence to procedure – asking your team to actively look for and identify when a non-conformity occurs shows that your team is aware of your processes and procedures and therefore will be more likely to adhere to them.
  • Ensuring the effectiveness of the system – by observing processes and recognising non-conformities you can easily see areas where your procedures aren’t quite working as planned, giving you the chance to address this and improve the effectiveness of your Management System overall.
  • Providing information for management reviews – the results of any raised non-conformities should be documented so they can be reviewed and analysed at management reviews, providing evidence for use in corrective action programmes and performance measurement.
  • Identifying opportunities for improvement – reoccurring non-conformities are a sure sign of a problem, observing such trends helps a business to highlight key procedure or process changes that are required to improve performance and productivity.
  • Driving continual improvement – by addressing your non-conformities you are driving improvement; from improving the process itself, to reviewing how that change affects other areas and possibly changing them too during a Management Review

When should you look for non-conformity?

Non-conformities are not something that will crop up at specific times of year so it is important that your teams are vigilant and always on the lookout.

If you require any further information regarding non-conformity then why not speak to one of our friendly, experienced Consultants by calling 0333 344 3646 or emailing