Prevention Controls vs. Detection Controls

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Analyzing our design concept for controls can be a great way to stay customer-focused and create products that are easy to use.

There are two basic buckets that we want to think of in terms of controls: prevention controls and detection controls. What are their differences and why do we differentiate between them? We explore this and take a look at risk, too.

Why do we need to classify controls into these buckets of prevention and detection? Isn't it enough to have at least one control? Depending on what design function we're controlling, it may not be enough to have one control and the control we have may not be sufficient. Prevention and detection controls affect our design risks in different ways. And that's why we have different buckets. 

Venn Diagram: Prevention vs. Detection

Things you can do today:

Add Prevention Controls where needed

With your own designs, early in the concept phase of your design, take some time to analyze the potential ways your user can interact with your concept product. You'll likely immediately see some features of your design that you'll want to add as prevention controls. 

Consider both control types based on risks

Use your FMEA (failure mode and effects analysis) as a way to assess your design for failures. By studying the FMEA measures and the current controls you already have in place, you'll notice gaps in places where prevention controls may be needed. 

Take Detection Controls to the next step

If you're working toward detection controls, know they're not as good as prevention controls but they still have a great place in design and reducing risks. Take the next step with the detection control and figure out who notices it and when, the method of inspection, and any alerts you want to add. 

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