Quality objectives and planning to achieve them – Part 2

Last time we talked about the problem of have trying to balance auditor acceptance with ISO compliance. So now we’ll discuss how to ‘beat ‘em at their own game.’ If you looked at the graphic in the last post, you may have noticed the diversity of Top Quality Management Objectives by industry. You may have also noticed that not all reflect ‘strategic direction’ and even fewer are easily measured quantitatively in present form. And, there lies the secret.

The intent of the Standard is that the organization determines its context (4.1,) Interested Parties and their requirements (4.2,) scope and boundaries (4.3,) processes and how they interact (4.4,) mix it all together with a heavy dose of customer focus (5.2) and create an ‘Elevator Speech’ that encompasses the Mission and Vision of the organization – The Quality Policy. And then the Standard tells us we have to write it all down in (5.2.2) tell people about it and pass it out to anyone who wants it.

The quality policy shall:
a) be available and be maintained as documented information;
b) be communicated, understood and applied within the organization;
c) be available to relevant interested parties, as appropriate.

So we distill the ‘Elevator Speech’ down to fit on the back of a business card which we’ll hand out to all our employees.They in turn will carry said cards around in hopes that an auditor will ask them ‘what their quality policy is’ at which point they smile, reach into their back pocket and present the card to the auditor. The auditor will then offer praise and say ‘that’s great, now what does that mean to you?’ to which the employee says I don’t know, I can’t read.’ By the way, this is a true story – it happened to me during an audit I performed down in Aikin, SC.

But we drift slightly off course.

The purpose of the policy, in addition to crystalizing our commitments to quality and improvement is to provide a basis for establishing our Quality Objectives. Which, if you’ve been paying attention, you’re starting to realize is not an easy task. The Standard is ‘suggesting’ these objectives identify areas of improvement and then be deployed throughout the many levels and functions to bring about positive change with the ultimate goal of enhancing customer satisfaction. On top of which, these need to be written down:

The organization shall maintain documented information on the quality objectives.

When planning how to achieve its quality objectives, the organization shall determine:
a) what will be done;
b) what resources will be required;
c) who will be responsible;
d) when it will be completed;
e) how the results will be evaluated.

Holy – Moly, that’s quite a mouthful. What’s involved? Well, the auditor is going to expect a manageable number of ‘action items’ objectives with five (5) components; a) what is to be achieved, b) how it will be achieved – what’s involved, c) who is responsible, d) when it will be done, and e) how it will be measured. How the hell are we going to do that! Easy, two sets of books and no, this isn’t cheating. It makes perfect sense when you consider the logistics of satisfying both ISO and the auditor. Two sets of books (objectives.) The first is the organization’s strategic plan, accomplishments, goals and objectives for the year (2-year, 5-year) or other appropriate target. These Corporate Goals (collectively that you will not show the auditor – “intellectual property’) will be the basis of the Quality Objectives you will show the auditor.

Most organizations document high-level objectives within the Quality Policy, such as: 100% quality product or service; 100% on-time, in-full delivery; 100% compliance with requirements; and, continual improvement to our QMS. So why not build on them! Create a Corporate Goal Statement and back-fill from relevant established processes.

But, before we develop our Quality Objectives, that will be deployed at relative functions and levels throughout the organization, let’s think about what the auditor is looking for.

  • ISO 9001:2015 now requires organizations to set quality objectives at functions, levels and processes that are relevant to conformity of product and the enhancement of customer satisfaction. The auditor is looking for evidence that the established quality objectives add value to the relevant functions, levels and processes within the organization.
  • Organizations are now required to determine what resources will be required to achieve quality objectives, who will be responsible for them, what will be done and when, as well as how achievement of the objectives will be evaluated. In many cases, this will require organizations to undertake more detailed monitoring of objectives and targets than they have in the past.
  • Auditors are going to insist that you provide evidence that you are complying with these new requirements.So, now what? I suggest something like this.

Objectives 1

The beauty of documenting objectives like this is:
1) There is no doubt as to the Corporate Goal,
2) Quality Objectives are color coded (Blue,)
3) Measurable in Red,
4) Satisfaction is Green (or dis-satisfaction in Brown,)
5) It is clear who is responsible,
6) What will be done, and,
7) When it will be done by.
8) Resources could be optional here, either by adding or not.

Now, tie it together with your KPIs and you’ve got the whole package.

Objectives 2

In this case, column 1 is the process (shown in the Interaction of Processes,) column 2 is that which will be measured,column 3 is the planned performance objective (and in this example, how the measurement is calculated) and column 4 the running total of achievement which can be updated monthly or quarterly.

That wraps up objectives, see you next time with Change Management.

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