October 2017, Vol. 244, No. 10


Why NCRs Should Be Seen as Friends

By Shobhendu Prabhakar, Project Quality Manager Project

Whenever the term “nonconformance report” (NCR) comes in project home offices or at construction sites, it is often perceived as a negative, and personnel are typically reluctant to accept it as a positive and powerful tool for improvement.

Perhaps, it’s the “non” part of “nonconformance” that causes so much discomfort. At any rate, this article explains why NCRs should be seen as a friend rather than a foe, and how such a report can be used to improve overall performance of a company, its projects, products and services.

First off, having an NCR means the company’s quality management system and its quality control department are performing as intended. Isn’t it a positive, rather than a negative thing? Absence of any NCRs should be looked critically by management teams trying to verify whether the quality management system is working as intended, and whether personnel are afraid to report nonconformance issues. After all, NCRs provide opportunities to look at the problems at hand objectively.

If objectively reviewed, NCRs press personnel into thinking and identifying root causes of the problems, taking corrective actions and, more importantly, identifying what can be done to prevent recurrence of similar problems. NCRs also point to early symptoms of problems that might become bigger systemic issues if not addressed in a timely manner. Early identification and resolution of NCRs often save companies millions of dollars.

NCRs typically focus on process correction and opportunities for improvements, as opposed to blaming personnel. Analysis of NCRs provide companies with useful data to identify trends and take necessary actions based on these trends.

Assigning dollar value to address problems identified in NCRs provides data to management concerning capital that could be saved in future by taking corrective and preventive actions. Often NCRs provide avenues to resolve interpretation issues with specifications, industry codes and procedures. Additionally, NCRs have the potential to enhance the culture within the companies, if the message is clear and expressed in a positive way to personnel.

NCR Positives 

Management and personnel need to look at NCRs objectively and positively. Responsible personnel should analyze the root causes behind the nonconformance.

The company must examine whether this is a process issue, personnel competency problem, supply chain management flaw or something else. Then, short-term corrective actions shall be identified and applied based on the root causes of the nonconformity; management must never simply apply a band aid fix.

The next step is to develop long-term corrective and preventive actions. Often times, if responsible people are not identified and assigned, focus on short- and long-term actions will be difficult to achieve. Therefore, the company must assign responsible personnel to implement corrective actions and preventive actions.

A schedule for looking at NCR data with company, product line personnel and project management, along with department and service management teams needs to be set to analyze the resulting data for lessons learned. If possible, each nonconformance should be quantified with a dollar value to show the cost impact, as well.


NCRs must not be perceived as an indication of poor performance of a function or by a department. NCRs are not performance measurements to be used for personnel evaluation, nor should not be used to place blame on individuals. Quick fixes and Band-Aid solutions need to be resisted.

NCRs should be used by company, product line, project, product or service management team as a friend helping to identify the root cause of a problem at hand. Used correctly an NCR provides useful data about the trends and early symptoms of a problem that will only become bigger if not addressed. P&GJ

Disclaimer: This article does not represent any Technip USA Inc. position, and it is in no way related to Technip USA Inc.

Author: Shobhendu Prabhakar works as a project quality manager with Technip USA Inc. He is a certified ISO 9001 lead auditor with more than 13 years of professional experience in quality assurance and quality control. Prabhakar holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and a master’s degree in mechanical design engineering.  

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