The Factored Quality Guide to RCAs & CAPAs


In Part 5, we unpack the ins and outs of RCAs and CAPAs.

Any consumer brand will know navigating from product development to warehouse inventory audits is a highly specific process. 

Fortunately, at Factored Quality, we’re experts on all aspects of audits that founders and startup operations teams don’t have the capacity to worry about. And we’re going to outline all of them in this series

In Part 5, we unpack RCA (root cause analysis) and CAPA (corrective and preventive action). 

Let’s dive in. 

RCA and CAPA go hand-in-hand to ensure reliable product quality

Let’s start with our two key definitions. 

  • RCA: Root cause analysis
  • CAPA: Corrective and preventive action

These two elements go hand-in-hand. First, RCA helps your brand understand what’s happening during production, assembly, and/or shipping that causes defects. Then, CAPA entails course correction and stopping the issues from occurring again. 

What kinds of brands and products require RCA + CAPA? 

Factored Quality recommends the RCA and CAPA processes for any products that considerably influence the end customer’s experience. 

You’ve likely already identified those products: If 20% of your returns can be chalked up to one specific issue, it’s time to conduct RCA and CAPA. Doing so will lower return rates and bolster revenue in the long term. 

How Factored Quality combines RCA and CAPA to solve defects — once and for all

At Factored Quality, RCA means taking a look at design, material, production, and assembly processes. This can entail visiting factories, investigating the original product design, and reviewing manufacturing processes. 

For instance, if a material isn’t durable enough or a production tool causes flaws, we’ll find it. From there, we generate a report detailing any defects we found and their root causes. 

We dig deep to understand where issues stem from for quick and effective remediation. At the same time, we make sure to identify specific, addressable issues — rather than ripping apart your entire manufacturing process and forcing brands to start from square one. 

Next, we break down the CAPA process into two smaller steps: 

  1. Corrective action: How do we fix the problem right now? 
  2. Preventive action: How do we ensure these defects don’t reoccur in the future? 

Bonus step: Sample collection services

A sample collection is the signed unit packaging product that inspectors will refer to down the line. It’s essentially the “golden sample,” and it’s important to collect one as it’ll simplify any future RCA and CAPA processes. 

FQ can do this for you. Even if you lack boots on the ground at your factory overseas, we can send the sample collection to you or store it properly to ensure that product reference is always available. 

To ensure buyer satisfaction every time, address complaints before they happen

When brands turn to Factored Quality to conduct RCA and CAPA, almost every single one reports it’s far simpler than troubleshooting on their own. 

Hiring in-house specialists to master the ins and outs of your products is expensive. Even the people who design the product may not be well-versed in materials and manufacturing. In comparison, outsourcing these steps to FQ is lower-lift and far less expensive for your brand. 

It also pays dividends in the long run, as partnering with Factored Quality is a matter of being proactive (not reactive) about product quality. Instead of acting based on a slew of negative feedback from customers, you can ensure their satisfaction by consistently inspecting and reviewing your products — before they ever see defects themselves. 

Case study: RCA and CAPA can lower your defect rates overnight

At Factored Quality, we recently conducted RCA and CAPA for a brand and identified exactly which steps in its manufacturing process caused the fragility of its core product. Once the client implemented our recommendations, the defect rate dropped immediately. 

From there, the brand implemented an extensive checklist during subsequent inspections and found the issue no longer occurs at all, further confirming Factored Quality’s improvements. 

Combining RCA and CAPA is ultimately the ideal strategy for brands because they can return to it to improve their products — over and over again. Brands who do so understand there is always room for improvement, and that’s the kind of ethos that wins loyal customers who are satisfied with every purchase. 

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