Definition

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Non-conformance Report

(Alias: non-compliance report)

A well constructed plot, therefore, must neither begin nor end at haphazard, but conform to these principles.
             - Aristotle, The Poetics

A non-conformance report documents the details of a non-conformance identified in a quality audit or other process review. The objective of the report is to make an unambiguous, defensible, clear and concise definition of the problem so that corrective action can and will be initiated by management.

Non-conformance Report Content

The elements of an effective statement of non-conformance are:

Observation A statement of the non-compliance
Attribution The standard, plan, procedure, work instruction, policy, documented social norm or organisational ethic violated by the target of the non-compliance
Location Where the non-compliance was identified. For example, department and geographical location
Objective Evidence Physical evidence of non-compliance. For example, the absence of a required record or incomplete information on an existing record.
Note that this element is particularly important as lack of physical evidence will often mean that the non-conformance it is not accepted by management and no action is taken. For example, an auditor's considered opinion that a design process is inadequate is open to dispute by designers performing the work. However, objective evidence that a design description does not comply with the company's definition of best practice as documented in design standards is likely to trigger corrective action by management.

Verifying Non-conformance Reports

The subject matter of all the non-conformance reports should be verified by an employee of the organisation being audited. This adds additional credibility to the report and increases the likelihood that corrective action will be taken. Each non-conformance report should therefore be endorsed by the local verifier who often doubles as the auditor's guide.

A Non-conformance Report Example

Department: Purchasing
Auditee: Mr Brandt
Location: Purchasing Department
Date: 25 November, 2012
Endorsement : Mr P Smith
Observation: Use of Approved Suppliers
Items were purchased from a supplier that had not been approved.
The purchase order document had not been approved, that is, no approval signature was evident. There was no evidence of notification or discussion with the purchasing manager (Mrs Masters). Mr Brandt and Mrs Masters could not recall a conversation.
Attribution: This represents a a non-conformance with clause 8.4 of a Quality Manual which requires that "use of non-approved suppliers must be referred to the purchasing manager."
Objective evidence: Purchase order number 73578
Discussions with Mr Brandt and Mrs Masters. Endorsed above, Mr P Smith.
Collaboration

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