ISO 9001 And The Quality Objectives
It's time to talk about your Quality Objectives which is ISO 9001: 2015's Clause 6.2 and is another of the sections which is a "shall" i.e. you must do this to comply with the standard. This time however it doesn't say "Top Management", it says "The Organisation" which means that you really should pull in as much of the organisation to develop objectives as possible to and you need to make sure the entire understand them and their part in them. The acid test really is being able to ask anyone in the organisation what they are and what they personally are doing to help meet them.
As you can imagine this process takes time. You need to really think about what the objectives are that your quality system needs to meet and over what timeframe.
Where do you start with this? Simple, start with your top-level Business Strategy and work forward, after all, shouldn't your ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management System be a key part of your business strategy? If so surely your Quality Objectives should align completely with your business strategy and be an integral part of the directions and individual objectives? It's important to get everyone understanding that your ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management System is part of your Business strategy and that your ISO 9001:2015 Quality Objectives contribute to achieving your Business Strategy.
You need to be able to take the objectives from the top level strategic view and translate them all the way down through departments to individual contributors so they know their part in the grand plan.
If you want to achieve ISO 9001:2015 Clause 6.2 you must meet several criteria with respect to the objectives that you set
- They must be consistent with your Quality Policy and relevant to the Quality Management System (and of course your organisation!)
- You must be able to measure them to know if you are succeeding or not, after all, what's the point of setting an objective if you're not actually going to care enough to measure it!? (many companies do, however) Monitoring doesn't stop at just keeping score of the numbers it must be discussed as part of your Quality Management Review sessions and should be part of the Senior Leadership Teams agenda.
- They should contribute to improved customer satisfaction with respect to your product or service, the hint here is that they should create some form of continuous improvement approach that benefits the customer satisfaction.
- They must be kept up to date and not left to gather dust on the 2nd shelf from the bottom of your bookshelf never to be looked at again until the day before the big audit!
Planning To Achieve The Objectives
Like any objective it's not enough to just write it down, you do have to create a plan to achieve the objective, which seems obvious but can get missed or over complicated so here are some hints.
Elements of a Plan
A list isn't a plan, a plan needs certain specific elements such as:
- What are you going to do
- When are you going to do it (start & finish should be considered)
- Who is going to do it
- What support or resources are needed to achieve this objective
- How will success be measured?
Writing The Objective
The objectives should follow the SMART approach (Specific, Measurable, Achievable / Appropriate, Realistic & Time-Bounded). As a template, however, I strongly recommend something in the format of a From X to Y by When format. Here is an example, this hits everything that you need in 1 nice crisp statement
We will reduce our product return rate from 3% to 1.8% by January 31st 2019
Communicate The Plan
If you want to ensure that everyone understands there is one simple thing you need to do - Communicate, Communicate, Communicate and when you think you have fully communicated it, do some more! Talk about it in plain English so that everyone gets it and it's interesting, they need to see how they fit in and know that they are not going to be overwhelmed with it.
If meeting ISO 9001:2015 Clause 6.2 is your goal then you need to ensure that you align the objectives with your strategic objectives and your Quality Policy, you create a plan on how to implement, resource and measure them. You communicate them widely in your organisation to ensure everyone understands their part and how it fits with the larger organisational picture.
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