Could your organization get more value from its Quality Policy?
9 March 2022. Relates to ISO 9001 clause 5.2.
The ISO 9001 standard has a mandatory requirement to document and communicate a quality policy. So, any organization wishing to be certified to ISO 9001 must have such a document in its QMS (Quality Management System) and have arrangements in place to communicate it. There are two ways to look at that requirement:
(1) What do we have to do?
(2) What else could we do that would be advantageous?
Must-haves in your Quality Policy (as required by ISO 9001 clause 5.2)
The Quality Policy should:
- Be appropriate to your organization and its strategic direction.
That could include a very brief summary of scope e.g. what products / services you provide, where you operate, and perhaps any over-arching ambition.
- Provide a basis for setting your quality objectives.
You most likely would not list specific, individual objectives within the Quality Policy, but perhaps state that you maintain a set of quality objectives and even what type of subject matter you have objectives for.
- Express a commitment to satisfying customer and other applicable requirements.
This would essentially be the chief executive's promise to customers in particular.
- Express a commitment to continually improving your QMS.
Once again, a promise to keep trying to do better.
There is no prescribed length for a quality policy. It should be long enough to include the above elements without rambling on unnecessarily. In most cases, a single page should be appropriate, and in our view, that should be your aim, as it offers the best option for display and distribution purposes.
It is the responsibility for top management to establish the quality policy. Therefore, it should be authorised or signed off by the most senior person in the organization e.g. the Proprietor, Managing Director or C.E.O.
Communicating your Quality Policy
The requirement is basically that the policy should be communicated within your organization and also be available to other interested parties or stakeholders.
Internally, the policy may be communicated to new workers by inclusion in the induction process. It may be communicated to existing workers by various means, such as:
- Including in Document Management System
- Reference in any QMS blogs or awareness sessions
- Display in reception areas and other prominent places,
Externally, the policy may be identified as available for external release. For Qudos 3 IMS software clients, that can be achieved very simply by classifying the document as ‘Public’.
The document can be sent to people as a PDF as required. Even better, it can be published on your web site. For example, we have done just that with our own Quality Policy. You can check that out at https://qudos-software.com/company-about-us/
Getting more value from your Quality Policy
From the above, we can see that it’s not that difficult to meet the ISO 9001 requirement for a Quality Policy (We make several examples available in our ISO 9001 Quality Toolkit to get you started).
The challenge is to go that next step from compliance to performance In the current climate of people working from home for some or all of the time, it’s more important than ever to communicate well to establish and maintain the business culture. The Quality Policy offers a great opportunity for top management to make a statement that truly reflects their vision for the business.
How can you add some extra value?
Well, our suggestion is:
- The policy should include something about the business culture and / or mission. While the Quality or Compliance Manager can draft the initial policy to ensure it meets mandatory requirements, there is a great opportunity for senior executives to add some input of their own. Its already stated above in the 'must haves' that should be authorised or signed off by the most senior person. However, a little more can be added that speaks about the organization's culture. That addition can be something that sets your organization apart. It may be a mission statement or emphasis on something relevant that the leadership team feels passionate about.
- The policy should look good and be widely communicated (including intranet and web site). The policy must be documented, but there are no rules about how. It doesn't have to be just plain text. Your marketing team can get involved to ensure that the policy is visually appealing and is in line with your corporate image.
- The policy and its communication should be subject to a regular document review and intenal audit
Hopefully, the above will help you to get more from your Quality Policy.
For further discussion on the subject and templates examples, see Qudos ISO 9001 Quality Toolkit. This comprehensive toolkit offers the most cost-effective solution to develop or improve your QMS. The toolkit is available in two different ways.
By joining Qudos Club - the online resource library for a range of compliance and risk management topics that will provide a positive return on your investment in just a few days.
It is also available as part of the all-inclusive Qudos 3 solution for an effective and efficient QMS or IMS (integrated management system also addressing OHS, environment and other compliance and risk topics).
Contact us now for details.
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