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Understanding the Policy & Objectives Requirements

The Quality Policy & Objectives truly are key to your organization.

They are the foundation of the context of your organization.  They are also very important to defining and developing your QMS. Below you can see exactly what the ISO 9001:2015 standard requires for the Quality Policy, I will address the Quality Objectives later.

5.2 Policy
5.2.1 Establishing the quality policy
Top management shall establish, implement and maintain a quality policy that:

a) is appropriate to the purpose and context of the organization and supports its strategic direction;
b) provides a framework for setting quality objectives;
c) includes a commitment to satisfy applicable requirements;
d) includes a commitment to continual improvement of the quality management system.

5.2.2 Communicating the quality policy
The quality policy shall:

a) be available and be maintained as documented information;
b) be communicated, understood and applied within the organization;
c) be available to relevant interested parties, as appropriate.

You must have a well-documented, approved, and communicated Policy, line a). We cannot meet the requirements of line item b) if there is not a policy available to communicate to your company employees, nor can it be understood within the organization.  Lastly, interested parties are unable to request a copy of it, required by line item c)

Now let’s move on to the Quality Objectives.  I will first list the requirements from the standard for the Quality Objectives.

6.2 Quality objectives and planning to achieve them
6.2.1 The organization shall establish quality objectives at relevant functions, levels and processes needed for the quality management system.
The quality objectives shall:

a) be consistent with the quality policy;
b) be measurable;
c) take into account applicable requirements;
d) be relevant to conformity of products and services and to enhancement of customer satisfaction;
e) be monitored;
f) be communicated;
g) be updated as appropriate.

The organization shall maintain documented information on the quality objectives.

In 6.2.1 a) there is a clear requirement to be consistent with the Quality Policy.  This goes back to the previous paragraphs and the extreme importance of having a documented Quality Policy.  We will move on from here to discuss the remainder of the findings.

After review of your Quality Objectives, I see that each objective has a one time target and one time deadline.  While, yes, Quality Objectives may be revised by QA and Top Management from time to time, the spirit of the objectives is to be a year over year measure of key deliverables that affect the company performance as it relates to the Quality Management System.

6.2.1 b) states that the objectives must be measurable, and this would imply that the same, or a slightly revised measure, would apply year over year.  This is useful as it gives a good comparison of the effectiveness year over year.

6.2.1 d) States that the Quality Objectives be relevant to conformity of products and services and to enhancement of customer satisfaction.  This would exclude anything related to internal projects or internal department specific objectives.

6.2.1 e) States that Objectives must be monitored, this would imply that they cannot have a one time end of year due date.  This is a continuous process.

In short, to meet the requirements of the ISO 9001:2015 standard, your company must develop a Quality Policy and clear, well documented, measurable Quality Objectives.

There are a couple of key topics that are not addressed in the Management Policy.  Let’s look at item b) for a moment.  This line requires that the Quality Policy set forth a framework for establishing Quality Objectives.  If, in the Quality Management Manual/Policy, there is not any evidence to support the establishment of and framework for “Quality” objectives.

Quality Objectives must have a few simple requirements.  First, let’s not turn every Key Process Indicator into a Quality Objective.  Quality Objectives are effectively KPI’s for the entire QMS.  These are different for every organization.  Lets keep in mind the front and back end of the QMS is our customer, their requirements and their satisfaction to having their requirements met.

The QMS starts with a customer, and they have needs.  The degree to which you meet their needs impacts their satisfaction.  Each organization must assess how well they met the requirements of the customer, and what is required by the organization to meet those requirements.  Internal product knowledge may be key.  On time delivery of products or services is generally key. The point is, each organization must identify those key metrics that assist the QMS in achieving its objective and supporting its Quality Policy.

Some Common Examples of Quality Objectives

  1. On Time Delivery (click here for more info)
  2. Warranty Rate
  3. Customer Satisfaction Surveys
  4. Customer Loyalty
  5. Defect Rate
  6. Rework Rate

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