Be afraid if your managers are giving the following signals:
- The quality management system is about “quality” only. They want to restrict the scope of the system to the bare minimum they think they can get away with. Goodness, why would you want the sales, marketing or finance to be exposed to problem solving and improvement???
- The quality management system is the responsibility of the quality manager and quality department only. They can’t see that quality is everyone’s responsibility. That you can’t suddenly build quality into a product or service just before it goes out the door. They can’t see that if quality is seen as a department’s responsibility, or worse still an individual’s, then quality products and services will be the last thing you get.
- They think the quality management system isn’t working because the training was poor. That training we did last year was boring and people clearly weren’t engaged – what a bad trainer. Come on! I can train someone to do a double pike through a hoop but if they don’t see the need for it they won’t do it.
5 Management Responsibility
5.1 Management Commitment
What does ISO 9001 Say?
When it comes to the commitment of managers, the Standard ISO 9001 Quality Management Systems says this.
Top management shall provide evidence of its commitment to the development and implementation of the quality management system and continually improving its effectiveness by:
a) communicating to the organization the importance of meeting customer as well as statutory and regulatory requirements,
b) establishing the quality policy,
c) ensuring that quality objectives are established,
d) conducting management reviews, and
e) ensuring the availability of resources.
Why is this Necessary?
Like so many other things in business, if the senior managers aren’t committed to the cause then it isn’t going to work. Given that ISO 9001 helps a business to manage product and service risks and is a framework for communicating best practice, you’d think that senior managers would be eager to support it in any way they can but this often proves not to be the case.
Managers, especially senior managers, need to demonstrate their commitment to the quality management system, and to be committed to something you need firstly to understand it, secondly to talk about it, and thirdly to act on it because as the old adage says “actions speak louder than words. If senior managers don’t appear to be committed to the quality management system then why should anybody else be?
Let’s Break it Down
Top management shall provide evidence of its commitment to the development and implementation of the quality management system and continually improving its effectiveness by . . .
Top management is defined in ISO 9000 as the person or group of people who direct and control an organisation. Therefore they sit at the top of the organisation chart and we normally refer to them as senior managers. A commitment is an obligation that a person or organisation takes on to do something and the something in this case is the quality management system. Developing, or writing, the quality management system is in many respects the easy part. Implementing, or making sure people follow it, is the hard part and this is where it is critical that senior managers demonstrate that they believe in it, that they know it will improve the business.
a) communicating to the organization the importance of meeting customer as well as statutory and regulatory requirements
Here senior management is being asked to demonstrate to other in the organisation that customer requirements and legal obligations are important and that the quality management system is the means by which this organisation will achieve them.
b) establishing the quality policy
It is up to the senior managers to ensure that the quality policy isn’t just a motherhood statement but that it is an overarching goal and the quality management system is the way of achieving that goal.
c) ensuring that quality objectives are established
Quality objectives shouldn’t be something that pertains to just to the quality management system. They should be the organisation’s objectives and hence it is the responsibility of the senior managers to set these objectives and achieve them. It is not the role of the quality manager.
d) conducting management reviews
Senior managers need to check, on a regular basis, that the quality management system is working. That it is helping the organisation achieve its objectives. After all, they are the ones with the power to do something about it.
e) ensuring the availability of resources
Other than a lack of commitment from senior managers, one of the most common reasons why a quality management system fails is because it has not been budgeted for. Instead, someone who already has a full time role in the organisation is also given the job of developing, implementing and maintaining the quality management system with little if any support from others. So due to a lack of resources the system is doomed from the start.