What is a Quality Manual?
A quality manual is the main, top-level document of a quality management system. It is similar to a constitution of a country or a manifesto of a party. This type of document establishes the policy level position of a government, party or in the
case of a quality manual, a company. There are two published definitions of what a quality
manual for an ISO 9001 system should be:
ISO 10013, Guidelines for Developing Quality Manuals, element 4.2, gives detailed suggestions
for creating a quality manual. It defines a quality manual, among other requirements, as a
document that should “…consist of, or refer to, the documented quality system procedures
intended for … planning and administration of activities which impact on quality…”
ISO 9001:2000, element 4.2.2 describes a quality manual as a document containing:
the scope of the quality management system, including details of
and justification for any exclusions;
- the documented procedures or reference to them
a description and interaction between the processes of the
If we follow the requirement 4.2.2.a of ISO 9001:2000 Standard,
we simply need to commit in the quality manual to all applicable
requirements of the standard. If we agree on this approach, the
task of creating a quality manual becomes very simple: just
transform the standard from a set of requirements into your
company’s commitment to satisfy those requirements with the
appropriate level of details. It also may be a good idea to
include in your quality manual a table of contents and company
Another important function of a
quality manual, very often overlooked, is as a marketing
tool. Well written and professionally published, a
quality manual may become a powerful marketing instrument.
It can communicate to your potential customers, suppliers
and subcontractors that your company is not only a
quality-conscious organization, but that it also knows how
to document and communicate its commitment to quality.
I always wonder what companies achieve by stamping their
quality manuals in bold capitol red letters “CONFIDENTIAL”.
As far as I’m concerned, a quality manual is a company’s
resume for quality, and if you hide your resume, there is a
very good chance that you will never get a job! All
Quality Works customers are encouraged to make their quality
Once I browsed a trade show in
Hong Kong. One of the displays attracted my attention
with impeccable composition and very professional color
coordination. As I approached the booth, I saw a
Chinese woman talking to a group of visitors. While enjoying
the artistic displays, I noticed a thin book on the counter,
which was written in Chinese. The cover contained a
few artistically arranged Chinese characters and the logo of
one of the largest registrars. I leafed through the
book wondering what business this company was in – lighting
fixtures as it appeared from the displays, or perhaps
publishing books in Chinese for the registrar?
Meanwhile, the woman finished the
conversation with her visitors and approached me. We
introduced ourselves and she enthusiastically started to
tell me about her company. When I asked her what her
company had to do with publishing, referring to the book,
she replied with a proud smile: “This is our quality
manual!” She said the company put a lot of effort into it.
But, she continued, “It’s paid for itself many times over by
generating business for us.” Someday I’d like to frame
that manual and put it on the wall – it’s a beautiful piece
of art! To see an example of a quality policy that
meets requirements of ISO 9001:2008 Standard,
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