How many Corrective Action Requests are enough in ISO9001:2000?

If you’ve read many of my posts compared them to most other ISO9001 consultants, you will probably notice that I’m a little more cynical than others. Many ISO types like to extoll the virtues of the quality management system and how it will increase customer satisfaction, decrease failures, etc. I don’t disagree with those benefits of ISO9001:2000. But the stark reality for most companies is that they MUST get ISO9001 certified in order to keep doing business. They don’t want to, mind you, but they must.

Keeping that in mind, one of the added tasks of an ISO quality system is to write, deal with, and record corrective action. I call them CAR’s, for Corrective Action Requests. CAR’s are a requirement of ISO9001:2000, and while certainly a valuable tool, they can be a pain in the rear to deal with.

You’ve got to do them if you want to keep your ISO9001:2000 certificate. So how many should you do? If you’ve got full time quality nazis on staff, they could easily turn corrective actions into a full time gig. I don’t think anyone wants that. Too many corrective action requests wastes everyone’s time, and pisses people off. Most people just want to do their jobs, not fill out extra paperwork because some quality person has a nit to pick.

It all depends on the size and complexity of your organization, of course. And also keep in mind this is only my opinion. I’m sure other ISO9001 professionals will tell you differently, and that’s fine with me. But for a company of under 20 people, I’d say that 1 or 2 CAR’s per month is sufficient. For a company of 21 to 100 people I would recommend at least 2 or 3 CAR’s per month. Only for much larger companies, with dedicated quality staff, would I recommend more than 3 corrective action requests per month. After all, you want to actually get work done, don’t you?

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