18 Apr 2011

Developing Quality Policy and Objectives

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Some people get stuck soon after starting an ISO 9001:2008 implementation with developing a Quality Policy and, soon after, in developing Quality Objectives.  Once you know what is expected, the process of developing them is very simple.

You could think of a Quality Policy as a company’s mission statement from the customer’s point of view. The policy should mention that your company is dedicated to meeting customer requirements and exercising continual improvement of the Quality Management System (QMS).  The policy informs everyone inside and outside the organization of the company’s Quality perspective, taking the customer’s requirements as primary consideration.

The Quality Policy needs to be appropriate to the business of the company. It should be stated in simple terms that everyone in the organization can relate to and make it their own.  This also means that the policy needs to reflect the overall values of the company and be consistent with other company public statements.

The policy should be developed early in the process of building the QMS.  It then becomes the guiding light for the QMS. Top management needs to be closely involved in its development and needs to disseminate it throughout the organization.  Ideally, top management should involve the management team and get consensus on its final form.

If the Quality Policy is a true reflection of the organization, the Quality Objectives will be easy to develop. The Quality Objectives are measurable and achievable statements that support the policy.

What measures do you need to assure that you are meeting customer requirements?  This will vary from company to company and even will vary for different type of customers within the company.  For instance, if you are encountering customer complaints, customer returns, high internal reject rates, poor supplier quality, or late deliveries, these are all good areas to target.  You need to first establish your metrics and develop a baseline, so that you can determine what level of improvement is attainable. The metrics and targets become your Quality Objectives –usually three or four.

In many cases, the company is already using these metrics to measure its business, but has not established clear measurable improvement goals. The performance against the objectives should be tracked frequently and reviewed formally at Management Review meetings. The suitability of the objectives, the policy and the effectiveness of the QMS, in general, should be reviewed at these meetings as well.

The Quality Policy and Objectives are the keystone of the QMS in guiding the organization in complying with customer requirements and the need for Continual Improvement.

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