The ISO 9001 standard requires the formation of quality objectives, but an interesting and important question is how we can write effective quality objectives so that they can be valuable to our company. To be brief, the quality objectives can serve as the finest way to highlight the key essentials of the quality policy and get a central point for the people efforts in the organization that are striving hard and working toward its improvement as well as development. In any case, a main reason for any company in the implementation of a Quality Management System is continuous improvement.
Lets have a look at how to define effective quality objectives in ISO 9001 quality management systems.
Effective Quality Objectives in ISO 9001 Should be S.M.A.R.T
The most important method employed by companies is that by keeping in mind the customer requirements, the quality policy is formed and after that the quality objectives are associated with the customer needs through the quality policy. Once it has been decided which things must be reviewed, measured and improved, the main thing is defining effective quality objectives in order to address what the areas of improvements are. In the first place, in order to have effective quality objectives in ISO 9001 quality management systems, they should be formulated on the criteria of being S.M.A.R.T (Specific, Measurable, and Achievable, Realistic and Time-Based). More to the point, it is important that the company employees know how their work facilitates in meeting the quality objectives and this level of understanding can be achieved only when these objectives have got the element of relevance and connectivity at each and every company level.
The first element is being “Specific” in designing objectives. To achieve the best outcome they must be crystal-clear. In preference to stating “to improve non-conforming product,” a specific Quality Objective would be “to decrease non-conformances on the fourth widget line,” in case the fourth widget production line is displaying data as the greatest wearisome area regarding non-conforming product.
The second important component is being “Measurable” because we can’t improve what we can’t measure. In order to have a clear idea that what has been attained so far the objective must be measurable for quality performance. For example, rather than saying “to improve the products quality on the fourth widget line” we can state an objective like ““to decrease non-conformances on the fourth widget line from 20% to 5%”. In that way it will be easy to measure the defects being prepared, and consequently being proactive by making plans to decrease the defects number.
Our third element is being “Achievable”. For effective quality objective it is vital that it is accepted by executive level management which is the main decision-making authority. Above all, the quality objectives must be designed in a way that the top management takes full ownership. It must be communicated to all organizational levels as they will be responsible to implement the plans once top level management comes to an understanding on the objective. The people at all organizational levels need to agree that the designed plan is achievable. In the absence of this buy-in they may not be completely dedicated in the goals achievement and the entire plan may be destined to disappointment.
Being “Realistic” in the formulation of an effective quality objective will make it appealing and easy to get along with within the organization in a smooth way. If the employees are told that the organization want to minimize its defects percentage from 50% to 5%, they will not buy it as it lacks the chance of possibility, particularly if the intended plans around the object is deficient for the improvement.
Last but not the least, in order to create an effective quality objective it must be “Time-Based” as for being truly operative it needs to have a time limit. By allocating a specific time-period it allows for better forecasting, as dates are a must-have component for a plan so that it can be tracked accurately.
One must keep in mind that the final step required in the implementation of the effective quality objectives in ISO 9001 quality management systems is to not only being communicated to the relevant individuals, but that all related individuals know their own involvement and the value of that contribution. By doing this we will not only observe overall improvement in the process, but increase in employee morale as well as empowerment.