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Quality Policy

ISO 9001 Standard Requires Quality Policy

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Element 5.3 of ISO 9001 Standard requires an organization to establish a quality policy. More specifically, the standard requires: “The management…” of an organization to… “ensure that the quality policy”:

- Is appropriate to the purpose of the organization;
- Includes a commitment to comply with requirements;
- Includes a commitment to continual improvement of the effectiveness of the QMS;
- Provides a framework for establishing and reviewing quality objectives;
- Is communicated and understood within the organization;
- Is reviewed for continuing suitability

Despite the fact that these requirements appear to be rather simple, most companies I worked with as a consultant or an auditor, had difficulties with documenting their ISO 9001 quality policies by not addressing all the requirements above. Establishing a quality policy that, as a minimum, addresses all the requirements above is important because of our commitment to establish a QMS that complies with ISO 9001 Standard. Therefore, we have to adhere to it’s requirements. What if our quality policy did not require its review “for continuing suitability”? Most likely that this review would not have been done.

Let’s take a look at a few examples of quality policies. If you open your browser and type “iso 9001 quality policy”, you will see a list of companies that placed their quality policies on their Websites. For example, let’s take a look at a few of them:

“[Company name] is committed to serve it’s customers and meet their needs and expectations in the design, manufacture and supply of reliable and innovative technologies and products for [product descriptions] using modern management, engineering and material sciences. [Company name] is committed to continuing improvement of its products and services to achieve increased customer satisfaction as well as to ensure compliance with the requirements of the Quality Management System and it’s continuing improvement.”

Assuming that this quality policy is appropriate "to the purpose of the organization" and is communicated, these two requirements are met. Customer needs and expectations may be considered as requirements, so this requirement is also addressed. However, commitment to continual improvement of the effectiveness of the QMS, provision of a framework for reviewing quality objectives and commitment to review quality policy for continuing suitability are not apparent.

The second example states: “Our goal is to exceed our customers' expectations continually by delivering the highest quality services. [Company name] complies with our quality policy by: Consistent management focus on quality, Continually improving the effectiveness of our Quality Management System; motivating our employees to take ownership of their work; understanding our customers goals and embracing them; providing ongoing training to advance the skills of our greatest asset, our employees; identifying and solving problems to avoid compromising the quality of our services. [Company name] places a premium on excellence of service. We clearly appreciate and respect today's market forces that mandate delivery of quality services and products. We know that our survival as a company depends on providing the highest quality of service on every engagement.“

This quality policy, while apparently customer-focused, still does not cover a framework for establishing and reviewing quality objectives and commitment to review it for continuing suitability.

One of my clients came up with a quality policy that won my The Worst Quality Policy Award! They simply said: “I improve the Quality of Patient Care and all things [Company name]” No! I am not kidding and I did not misspelled or took any words out of this sorry example! Obviously, this quality policy does not meet standard requirements and, based on what I have seen there, did not contribute in any way to improving "the Quality of Patient care...".

Browse our Products page to see which of our products can help you developing your quality policy and quality management system.

Quality Policy

Discover techniques to build Lean Management Systems.

Download a complimentary copy of our

The Perfect Manual - A Guide to Lean Management Systems book

Browse our Products page to see which of our products can help you developing your quality policy and quality management system.

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