The Corrective Action process is at the heart of your quality management system, transforming quality issues into opportunities for improvement. Unfortunately, in most organizations the Corrective Action process is clogged with too many Corrective Actions, slowing everything down, diluting everyone's efforts, and frustrating management. To unclog the system, you need to focus on only the Corrective Actions you have capacity for. The difficulty lies in picking the ones you should work on and the ones you can put on hold until later.
Risk assessment provides a quantitative technique for picking the Corrective Actions you need to work on now and the ones you can leave to later. Using a rating of probability and severity (and optionally detectability), supported by clearly documented guidelines, you can calculate a risk level for each Corrective Action. With this information, you can set a risk threshold for determining which Corrective Actions to work on. Complete all those Corrective Actions first, regardless of their issue date or "priority" level, before moving to lower-risk Corrective Actions.