How to Meet the Leadership Requirements in ISO 9001:2015 – Part 4

Part 4 will conclude this series on the role of top management

5.3 Organizational Roles, Responsibilities, and Authorities

Top management must ensure that the responsibilities and authorities for relevant roles are assigned, communicated, and understood within the organization. Top Management must assign the responsibility and authority to ensure that the system conforms to the requirements of ISO 9001 and that the processes are delivering their intended outputs. Top Management must assign the responsibility and authority for reporting on the performance of the system, on opportunities for improvement, and on the need for change or innovation. Top Management must assign the responsibility and authority to ensure the promotion of customer focus throughout the organization and ensure that integrity of system is maintained when changes to system are planned and implemented.


Top management must establish the organization necessary to implement a QMS. It must define the structure, hierarchy and lines of reporting. Additionally, it must ensure that duties, responsibilities and authority of all personnel are defined and communicated. All personnel must be clear on their duties, responsibilities and authority in meeting customer and regulatory requirements. Organization charts, job descriptions, Standard operating procedures, work instructions, etc. are some of the many ways that top management may use to define and document this. These must be communicated and available, as applicable, throughout the organization. Orientation training, appointment postings, training on procedures and work instructions, etc. are some of the many ways in accomplishing this. The organization structure and lines of reporting; responsibility and authority of managerial functions and departments may be established by top management and the responsibilities and authorities for the rest of the organization may be established by the HR function working with various process owners. Again, this would depend on the size, complexity and culture of the organization. The effective planning, operation and control of internal communication processes may be demonstrated through the performance indicators.

The following is a Top 10 list of some of the roles (including responsibilities and authorities) which Top Management needs to identify:

  1. Understanding the company mission, vision, policies, and objectives carefully, and communicating the same in simple language down the line. The role should ensure that people have understood of the same and will be able to demonstrate it in their routine activities.
  2. Helping Process Owners in determining departmental objectives, policies and goals considering the company’s objectives and policies. The concerned Process Owner is responsible for writing the policy and goals for his/her department and sections.
  3. Explaining the concepts of ISO 9000 throughout the organization. Help of expert professionals can be obtained in giving training.
  4. Communicating the importance of meeting customer as well as regulatory requirements during the training program or in any other occasion found suitable for this purpose.
  5.  Identifying the processes required for implementing quality management systems that can help achieving company goals.
  6. Getting the documents; SOPs, work instructions, job descriptions, process parameters, and specifications, etc. prepared by the concerned personnel and bringing them under control.
  7. Identifying the need for a team of internal quality auditors to periodically audit the systems throughout the organization. Identifying the potential internal quality auditors and arranging their training programs.
  8. Maintaining of records for internal quality audits, management review, corrective and preventive actions, follow-up for the actions decided in the management review and the correspondences relating to the implementation of quality management systems.
  9. Reporting the progress on trends in performance, to the top management from time to time.
  10. Ensuring the integrity of the management system is maintained when changes are planned and implemented.

Some of the above tasks may be delegated, but it is the management’s responsibility to ensure they are planned, implemented and achieved. The implementation and adherence to systems is the responsibility of the top management. Unless the top management drives and follows up, the system cannot be implemented effectively. The above task may be given to one person or to a group of persons depending on the size of the organization.

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