A Corrective Action Plan (CAP) is simply a step-by-step plan you put together to address any causes of concern in your current project plans. It’s a way of documenting issues and agreeing a shared approach to addressing them in order to bring a project back into a situation that feels in control.
In this article we’ll look at what initiates a CAP, the kinds of problems that they set out to address and what goes into the documentation.
Let’s start at the beginning with how a CAP is initiated.
Where do Corrective Action Plans come from?
Corrective Action Plans are put together as a result of something else happening – normally, some kind of project review that identifies something that isn’t going exactly to plan and needs to be investigated and corrected.
For example, you might get a request to put together a CAP as a result of going through Defense Contract Management Agency’s (DCMA) Missed Tasks assessment. This looks at schedules and measures how well the current performance is tracking the baseline. A CAP can be used to realign the actual schedule with the project’s baseline so that the project is brought back to a position of control.
Having to prepare a CAP is not necessarily something to be worried about. It’s normal for projects to change as the environment evolves, and it’s expected that sometimes things won’t go exactly to plan. However, it is important for monitoring and control purposes that your schedule does reflect the current position and estimated future position as closely as possible, so that’s why it’s worth preparing a CAP to realign the schedule and baseline.
It can also show your customer that you are taking project controls seriously and have the skills required to lead the work effectively to meet their contracted and expected standards of project management.
As well as the missed tasks assessment, there are other triggers that kick off the need for a CAP including:
- Other project performance assessments, where the DCMA’s missed task assessment is not in use
- An Integrated Baseline Review
- A Contract Performance Report
- A review of the Integrated Master Schedule
- A Discrepancy Report.
All of these may result in a Corrective Action Request – a formal request to put together a CAP and take action to address issues in the project.
What sorts of issues do Corrective Action Plans address?
Corrective Action Plans can address all kinds of project performance issues and are widely used within organizations that have implemented earned value management as a way to ensure projects stay within their control parameters.
Here are some typical examples of the types of issues that are often subject to a CAP:
- The forecasted completion cost is unrealistic given current performance indicators
- There are variances in cost or schedule performance that have not been adequately explained, and it doesn’t look like there are plans in place to stop the variance from getting worse
- There are issues with data integrity
- Poorly defined scope elements
- Wrongly applied earned value techniques e.g. using inappropriate techniques for the situation
- Subcontractors not providing adequate reporting to allow for earned value flow down.
And you can probably think of others. Any situation where there needs to be a formal approach to correcting project performance can be subject to a CAP.
What goes into a CAP?
The point of a CAP is to document the situation and lay out what needs to happen to bring the situation back into a sustainable and acceptable state. They are used when the problem isn’t going to correct itself and there needs to be some kind of management intervention to identify and resolve the problem at the root cause.
You may have templates to use for your CAP, or contact us and we can advise on how to get an effective CAP developed and implemented. However, here are the basics of what should be included:
- Details of the problem
- Root cause analysis to explain why the problem is happening
- Any contributing factors that are influencing the situation
- The corrective action approach: what is going to be done about the problem
- The deliverables from the action plan: what needs to be delivered in order for the team to say this issue is resolved (also known as exit criteria)
- Dates in the form of a schedule for completing the work laid out in the CAP.
With all this documented, the team can then approve the CAP and get to work. They’ll take the required actions and follow up on what needs to change. This could take the form of a one-off activity within the project or require a process change, user training or anything else that was identified in the plan.
When the work is complete, the team can be confident that the project is back on track and is now set up to deliver to the performance criteria set.
The whole process sounds straightforward but needs to be handled precisely and in a timely manner, especially for contracts with government agencies. Mistakes with both the analysis and the production and implementation of the Corrective Action Plan can be costly, which is why we recommend working with trusted experts to review your next steps if you receive a Corrective Action Request. Get in touch and find out how we can help.