Non Conformance Report: How to Report a Quality Issue

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Let's get ready and draft that NCR right now. Those who have never heard of an NCR or Non-Conformance Report should become familiarized with the term and understand what the implications when it is issued. A Non-Conformance Report or Non-Conformity Report is a construction related document that keeps track of deviation and work that fails to meet standards and specs.

Non Conformance Report Items

A Non-Conformance Report shall be used prepared and must include at a minimum the following information:

  • What is the main reason or what when wrong
  • Why the work doesn't meet specs
  • What can be done to prevent it from happening again
  • Explanatory corrective action is taken
  • Key players involved in the NCR and specs affected under the NCR

When to Issue a Non-Conformance Report

The construction industry regularly uses the NCR as a way to record and keep track of work being performed that does not meet standards or specifications. The following scenarios are the most common situations that will require the issuance of an NCR:

  • Work that was not built as indicated in the approved Issued for Construction Drawings
  • Work that fails to meet specified tolerances as established in the project specs.
  • Work that is being performed using non-approved methods or standards
  • When the testing and inspection plan is not followed as agreed
  • When testing results demonstrate that the product does not meet established and approved standards
  • When a material is used and has not been approved as a substitute (equal or similar) 
  • When design is not accurate and does not represent actual field conditions
  • When the approved procedure was not followed, and quality defects have been identified by the project team.

Who Is Responsible to Issue the Non-Conformance Report?

The Non-Conformance Report, depending  on the situation, can be issued by any of the project team members. It shall present a non-debatable fact, clear and with sufficient backup information that supports the claim. It is important to establish since day one, what conditions shall be met to issue the NCR. Once the rules are established, and limits have been set, then it is safe to issue NCR's but most important to maintain track of it and be able to close the NCR. Non Conformance Reports shall be used as learning and training tools to avoid those situations from happening again.

Non Conformance Report Consequences

Although is very important and healthy to issue NCR's at the right time, it is also prudent to say that NCR's can also bring other problems into the contract. Sometimes, NCR's can be seen by financial institutions as red flags or can be identified as poor performance situation by the contractor, so it might end up having financial implication on future projects. In some situations, NCR's can open the door to claims and even further arbitration process. NCR's can also lead to delays in the construction process when additional resources need to be brought to correct the situations or areas being affected by the Non-Conformance report.

There is a lot of paperwork and research associated with an NCR as, the one issuing the report needs to gather information, specs, standards and list procedures that were affected by the situation.

What to Do When You Receive an NCR?

If you are the recipient of the NCR, you must act promptly and at a minimum follow these steps for a quick resolution:

  • Meet with the person issuing the NCR
  • Implement the corrective action and make sure through an inspection process that the issue has been solved adequately.
  • Reply through a formal letter or document the process on what was the action that triggered the NCR, document the action to solve the issue, explain the steps taken to prevent this from happening and last but not least, make sure that your counterpart agrees and signs off on your action plan.