Identifying and tracking Quality Objectives are a requirement of ISO 9001:2015. These Quality Objectives must be identified and tracked at relevant levels, functions and processes. Functions or processes, where quality objectives are required can be decided based upon complexity, size or criticality of the process. The Quality Objectives should be in-line with the quality policy and consider all applicable requirements. Quality Objectives need to be measurable, relevant to the products and services being offered and focus on enhancing customer satisfaction.
Establishing Measurable Quality Objective
Identification of relevant quality objectives which are consistent to your organization’s quality policy is the first step in planning your Quality Management System. Objectives can be established through S.M.A.R.T philosophy. S.M.A.R.T is an acronym used as a guide for establishing measurable objectives, which are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-oriented. Each objective should be:
- Specific – The Objectives must be clearly defined or identified so everyone is able to interpreted it in the same way.
- Measurable – An objective should be quantifiable and should be interpreted in terms of size or degree.
- Attainable– An objective set which is beyond the capacity or capabilities of the organization would never be met. There should be mechanisms available or built to measure these objectives and the objectives should be achievable.
- Relevant –The objectives should be relevant to the organization’s context. An objective’s alignment to Quality Policy and customer’s or statutory or regulatory requirements can be ensured, so that it is relevant to the strategic direction of the organization.
- Time-Oriented– An objective should be time-bound. The mechanism created for calculation of objectives should address when the objective will be assessed to understand that it is met.
Quality Objectives should be set in discussion with top management and be relevant to conformity of products and services offered by the organization. Some examples of quality objectives are:
- Improvement in customer satisfaction ratings by 3% every year
- On-time delivery achievement of 99% every quarter
- Improve productivity of team by 2% annually
Deploy Quality Objectives
After Quality Objectives are identified, the next steps required for deployment of these objectives are:
- Document Quality Objective: The Quality Objectives need be documented. You could use a Quality Manual however this is no longer required in ISO 9001:2015. Other options include, a Quality portal or document plan.
- Communicate Quality Objectives: The Quality objectives need to be communicated to all relevant functions or departments. This may be done through Quality Awareness sessions to all teams.
- Establish Mechanisms to capture Quality Objectives: There should be mechanisms established in the organization to calculate the Quality Objectives. The mechanisms planned need to be deployed for all functions or departments and these should be tracked on a fixed frequency to ensure compliance to these objectives.
- Review Quality Objectives: Once an organization starts capturing these objectives, they need to review mechanisms built to evaluate the performance of these objectives. This can be done through Management reviews planned on fixed intervals. Based on the outputs of the reviews, Quality objectives may be updated, as appropriate
- Plan Corrective Actions: Whenever the Quality Objectives do not meet the targets set, there should be corrective actions planned against it. This gives an opportunity to identify process improvements which can help enhance the performance of the Quality Objectives.
Establishing and Maintaining the performance of Quality Objectives is important to ensure effectiveness of Quality Management System. It gives an opportunity to the organization to improve its processes and bring higher efficiency in their systems.
To the novice quality manager, ISO jargon can be extremely overwhelming. What is an NCR? What do you mean by OFI? Are we certified or accredited? But before you go and pull out your hair, let’s take a moment to go over some of the most frequently used terms and their definitions with regards to ISO and Management System Certification.