Creating Teams

The aim of the Corrective Action Process is to enable efficient, effective and timely problem solving at all levels in the company. In order for this to become reality it is crucial that problem solving is approached in a structured way to ensure success. An effective way of releasing the potential of the personnel involved in key processes must be found, so that ownership is maximized.


The Corrective Action Process falls under four basic headings, which are:

These generic stages of structured problem solving are explained fully in the 'IMPROVEMENT PROCESS CYCLE'.

For the purpose of clarity the starting point of the Define Step is at the point where. a problem solving log (see problem solving log procedures) has been completed, submitted to the Steering Group and a decision has been made that a CAT (Corrective Action Team) is the most efficient vehicle for solving the problem.

The problem report submitted should contain an initial estimate of the cost of the problem to the operation in terms of time and/ or material wasted as a result of the current problem. The company is then able to decide how much resource should be applied to the solution (how much It will cost to gain the estimated benefit). It is important that this quantification is done, even if it is not seen as important, so that if the solution is questioned at any level in the company the business case can be proved.


An appropriate team leader can then be chosen who Is familiar with day to day operating problems and who will see a direct benefit in their solution. It is important to note that the Team Leader role is independent of hierarchy seniority and that the team should avoid the consideration of seniority when solving problems   all ideas and facts need to be considered on their merit.

The Team Leader should plan major milestones for the CAT activity, with particular reference to reporting dates, business measures and targets to be achieved. It is of prime importance that the end result of the activity is defined. Until this is done, the problem has not been truly defined. The Team leader will be satisfied that everyone understands the problem and the scope of all relevant Business Processes. Any relevant Processes that have not been defined will need to be defined and agreed by the CAT before attempting to solve the problem itself, (a separate analysis team can be used to define the processes in parallel if time is critical).

Team members then plan and implement necessary skills training (problem solving, workflow analysis etc). When process owners (ie people who are involved operationally with the process concerned) are included in the Team, the CAT can function much more efficiently as the results will be owned by the participants. The closer to the 'coal face' these representatives are, the less theoretical and opinion based the actions will be.

Preparation and training of the team can now take place which includes:


The next stage is to analyze the process which relates to the problem assigned in detail so that the real root causes will be revealed and the problem eradicated.

Establish Causes

A root cause analysis is now carried out, determining cause and effect, in order to trace the problem back to its initial cause.

Using the process definition, detailed workflow analysis is carried out now to examine selected work methods, management control mechanisms, communication between dependencies and existing service levels (for both internal and external customers where appropriate). The detailed process has to be examined for gaps (where activities that should happen do not happen), mismatches (where outputs do not match requirements) and overlaps (where one or more areas is duplicating work). Many of the issues will be well known to CAT members and a list should be drawn up and included with the above points in a summary of process problems. The above observations now need to be validated and/ or quantified.

Select Major Causes

Key Costs of Non conformance and Costs of Conformance are determined for the areas concerned.

Information tracking logs should be designed and installed to capture any missing information. The appropriate method of capture will depend on whether the problem is a short term or long term issue. For short term problems that often recur during the day, a 2 week collection period is usually sufficient. For longer term problems that only occur at certain times, a year's base data is appropriate. Problems that occur on an infrequent but nonetheless damaging basis can be picked up by individual case study.

Identify Key Improvements

Brainstorm all possible improvements, using Relation Diagrams. How-How Diagrams, in order to examine all possible ways of overcoming the points found.

Select Key Improvements

Establish the feasibility of improvements and any new customer service levels. Once potential methods for dealing with the problems have been outlined, it is important that they are tested for feasibility by the users, and that, at least in a pilot area, the ideas and any new service level agreements are put to the test in 'real' operating conditions so that they can be shown to work.

The CAT analyze the data and indicate priorities for action based on operating and bottom line improvements. All recommendations must be accompanied by an estimate of their yield to the business or operating area, which will then be monitored using the measures defined. Until this is done, prioritization cannot take place.


Agreed recommendations are then sent to the Steering Group and reviewed. If the process owners were not represented on the CAT then they must be involved in the agreement before recommendations are sent to the Steering Group. The Steering Group ensures that the recommendations are of benefit to the business and are reflected in operating results. The CAT chairman should also be prepared to follow up on progress with the Steering Group and feedback of any actions taken by senior management should be given to originators (even if action has not yet been taken, a regular update keeps participants interested). The Steering Group will set reporting dates for the CAT in order to oversee the improvements.

The authorized actions are communicated to the CAT and implementation details are then planned. The plan will include reporting and business plan milestones indicated by the Steering Group. Any local work (such as drawing up new forms, configuring a system etc) is assigned and the improvements managed by the CAT.

It is recommended that key individuals are nominated to be responsible for particular actions and that their work is followed up on a regular short interval basis at first to secure a fast start to the process and to enable timely correction of early problems. This can be relaxed as the process gains momentum.

The agreed improvements are now carried out. The feedback and communication loops are vital at this stage to ensure that all participants in the improvements are kept on board.

Monitoring of measures is continued, relating improvements to the base performance measures.

Where measures indicate that the problem has not been solved (there is no improvement), either the improvement has not been implemented correctly (in which case implementation must be repeated correctly), or it has not dealt with the major root cause of the problem (in this case original causes must be revisited and the most likely selected). The more time and care that is invested in the Define and Analyze cycles, the less likely it is that this will happen.

It is also possible for the measures to improve without process users perceiving improvements. In this case it must be confirmed that the measures are correct, and if this is the case, the process users can be shown the improvements and decide how to measure them.


Now that the Corrective Action has been proved to work, all necessary changes to procedures and systems need to take place to ensure that the improvements are cemented in. It is in preventing the repetition of problems that organizations achieve long term gain and free up valuable time to concentrate on commercial issues.

Formally proceduralize any process changes needed and amend relevant process documentation. Consider applying the discipline of standards such as ISO9001.

Train personnel where necessary to operate under changed arrangements. Ensure old problems are not carried over in the habits of key personnel.

Identify areas for further improvement and feed to the Steering Group.

Roll improvements out to other areas. One of the major reasons for involving the Steering Group in managing this activity is to enable senior management to ensure that benefits that arise from one corrective action can be analyzed and introduced to other areas so that the whole business can realize maximum benefit from the effort of the teams. It is of prime importance that all improvements are cross checked in this way to get fast track benefits.

The short interval measurement applied before can be relaxed once the new system is working properly. This will release experienced resources to continue the improvement process in other areas. Fixed intervals of audit should now suffice to keep the improvements on track.

Evaluate the improvements in relation to the P & L It is important to evaluate in this way, even if "the bottom line" is not considered particularly important, in order to give a commercial indication of success.

A summary of results will now be completed in order to demonstrate that the problem outlined in the original log has been solved. This clears the problem from the active system and provides useful case study material for training new groups on problem solving.

All CATs should be validated before starting up to avoid duplication and rework. The Steering Group should ensure that the work outline for the CAT does not overlap or cover any work covered in existing CATs. The Steering Group should also satisfy itself that single sites are not examining company wide problems from their own exclusive perspective, or work will have to be repeated later.






Initial Steps


    1. Membership Is on a voluntary basis and people need to understand what they are volunteering for. Therefore, a well thought out brief to enable people to understand is required.

    2. The team leader should invite and encourage all of the staff to apply for membership

    3. Staff need to understand and be satisfied with the membership selection process



  1. Company aims

  2. The Total Quality Concept

  3. Team Purpose Analysis

  1. Problem Solving