What is quality policy and what are quality goals according to ISO 9001?
In order to achieve conformity with DIN EN ISO 9001, a very simple procedure is sufficient in the area of management processes. The organization must formulate a quality policy that is appropriate for the organization. From this quality policy, measurable quality goals are ultimately to be derived. Requirements for the planning for the implementation of the quality management are only rudimentary recognizable. With DIN EN ISO 9001, this task of top management becomes significantly more complex, but also more coherent at the same time, as the procedure approximates corporate reality.
A major change in the area of strategic planning concerns the context of the organization, which must be taken into account when defining the quality policy. Another change must be taken into account in quality planning, since risks and opportunities must now be taken into account. Since the 2015 revision of ISO 9001 specifies further aspects, you will find further valuable information below that must be taken into account.
DIN EN ISO 9001 splits up the control loops
In DIN EN ISO 9001: 2008 we have gathered all strategic aspects of management in section 5 (5.3 quality policy, 5.4 planning and 5.6 management evaluation). As a result, aspects of a company’s medium- and short-term planning are mixed up. The consequence is often a less practical approach, which is only maintained for the certification of the quality management system. DIN EN ISO 9001: 2015 now splits the planning into two control loops in order to make the procedure more coherent and more practical.
A medium-term planning cycle builds on the general strategy of the organization and assigns the aspects of context and quality policy. A short-term planning cycle should ensure the implementation of the strategy and is based on the recognition of risks and opportunities as well as the definition of quality goals and consistent planning to achieve them. The new procedure template of the DIN EN ISO 9001 revision 2015 can be found on the following page in principle. In the following text, the previous tools and any existing changes as well as the newly added tools are discussed in detail.
Determining the context brings life to the quality management system
Since many quality management systems have so far existed in a kind of “reserve”, the determination of the context should support their release into “the wild” with the existing framework conditions. Changes in the framework conditions due to the changing environment of a company are usually associated with risks, but can also offer new opportunities. Concrete influencing factors can be derived taking into account the internal and external issues arising from the environment. These factors affect the people, groups of people or organizations who influence decisions or activities of the company, are influenced by them or who may feel influenced by them.
What does ISO 9001 require in terms of quality policy?
With the quality policy, a company defines the subject areas relevant to its activities. Sustainable quality management requires an effective quality policy that plans, directs and improves. The employees, customers, interested parties, processes, products and services represent the starting points for quality management and its constant improvement from the perspective of quality policy. In order to achieve this goal, the quality policy should be formulated in such a way that it is clearly presented to every employee , what the goal of “quality” is about and how it relates to quality. These statements of the quality policy should be communicated, understood and implemented internally and must be available to the relevant interested parties. The following aspects should not be missing in the quality policy:
- References to the corporate purpose (corporate management areas), the context and the strategy.
- Framework for deriving quality goals.
- Principles of conduct towards fulfillment
- relevant requirements.
- Commitment to continuous improvement of the quality management system.
The quality policy must be formulated in an understandable manner and be available as documented information.
Definition and documentation of a company’s ISO 9001 quality policy
When you formulate your quality policy, you should distinguish between two sides of your company: the internal and external relations. The internal relationship includes, for example, the following points:
- Quality must be agreed with the aspects of costs and deadlines.
- Involvement of all employees in the process of constant quality improvement (making those affected become involved), etc.
The following aspects can be included in the external relationship:
- Recognize the customer’s wishes, take them seriously and implement them.
- Recognize and adhere to social norms.
- Make quality credible to interested parties, etc.
A quality policy ISO 9001 is created in a process in which the employees have to work together across hierarchies, since the quality policy applies to every employee. This is the task and requirement of every individual in the company. The development phase needs space and time to negotiate compromises in order to achieve a sustainable commitment for the future.
What requirements does ISO 9001 place on the quality goals?
DIN EN ISO 9001 requires that the quality policy must provide a framework for setting and evaluating quality goals. A quality target under the motto “We want to improve the quality of our services” is useless and cannot be grasped or measured. Goals are aspired future conditions that can be achieved through your own actions. The DIN EN ISO 9001 standard also includes the following requirements for Q objectives:
- Congruence to Q policy;
- Measurability of the Q-goals;
- Consider applicable requirements;
- Relevance for the conformity of the products or DL as well as customer satisfaction;
- Monitoring of target achievement;
- Communicating the Q objectives in the areas, levels and processes;
- Update if necessary.
For each quality goal, one or more key figures should be defined, which help to determine the progress and the degree of achievement. Good metrics are
- easy to understand,
- specific, ie they really measure the degree of fulfillment of the quality objective and
- the actual values can ultimately be recorded without unnecessary effort.
DIN EN ISO 9001: 2015 now explicitly requires planning to achieve the quality goals, which must also take into account the following aspects:
What needs to be done (measures).
What resources are required.
Who is responsible for achieving the goal.
By when the goals should be achieved.
How to evaluate the results.
The management review as an effective quality management instrument
A quality management system can never be finally “finished” because it requires constant adaptation to a changing environment and thus continuous improvement. The evaluation process analyzes and assesses strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and risks. In addition, options for improving the performance of the entire company are systematically developed. In DIN EN ISO 9001 we can now find the management evaluation in section 9, which is entitled “Evaluation of performance”. This means that their assignment to the “Check” step of the “PDCA cycle” has been completed and is therefore more consistent. Nevertheless, ISO 9001: 2015 still requires the active implementation of the evaluation process by the top management of the company.
Identify risks and opportunities in accordance with ISO 9001 to reduce uncertainty
Risks can jeopardize the desired success of a company. Especially when they happen unexpectedly! Opportunities, on the other hand, offer starting points for its further development. Especially when these are systematically recognized and used. When identifying the risks and opportunities, the business environment (context) and the relevant needs and expectations of interested parties must be taken into account. The 2015 ISO 9001 revision requires a conscious and comprehensive approach to risks and opportunities. The aim of ISO 9001 is to minimize the possible effects of potential nonconformities and to promote the achievement of the planned results. If you could no longer find the preventive measures in DIN EN ISO 9001: 2015, you have not overlooked them.
The basis of coherent quality goals is an appropriate quality policy
The relocation of the quality objectives to the new section 6 “Planning” of DIN EN ISO 9001 has ultimately not changed anything in the basic system for deriving the objectives from the quality policy. The main change lies in the specification of the planning activities to achieve the quality goals. The new requirements for dealing with the goals mean that behind each goal there is a small project with the following rules:
- Determining what needs to be done to achieve the goal.
- Identification of the necessary resources.
- Determination of responsibility.
- In addition, specification of a closing date.
- Clarification of how the results achieved are ultimately to be assessed.
The quality goals form the core element of a quality management system with the quality policy ISO 9001 and are also trend-setting for the development of a company.