Yes, I can hear you groaning already. Quality policies, motherhood statements, stick them on the wall and forget about them. Correct? You may feel that way, but the standard for ISO 9001 Quality Management Systems clearly states that you must have a quality policy. It does not so clearly states what should be in it. This is what the standard says:
5 Management Responsibility
5.3 Quality Policy
Top management shall ensure that the quality policy:
a) is appropriate to the purpose of the organization,
b) includes a commitment to comply with requirements and continually improve the effectiveness of the quality management system,
c) provides a framework for establishing and reviewing quality objectives,
d) is communicated and understood within the organization, and
e) is reviewed for continuing suitability.
Developing a quality management system should be a strategic business decision and therefore management must provide the necessary direction and leadership, starting with establishing the quality policy and objectives. Your quality policy represents senior management’s vision on quality management for the organization. It provides the organisation with direction through high level goals and objectives for quality management.
a) appropriate to the purpose of the organization
Your quality policy should be consistent with the scope of your quality management system (the services, products and processes that your quality management system includes) as well as other strategies within your business because quality management systems don’t (or shouldn’t) exist in isolation from the rest of your business.
b) includes a commitment to comply with requirements and continually improve the effectiveness of the quality management system
The wording of the quality policy should preferably state the requirements your system is going to comply with. It is going to comply with the requirements of ISO 9001 but you might also like to refer to meeting customer, statutory and regulatory requirements. It must also clearly state your commitment to continually improve the effectiveness of the quality management system.
c) provides a framework for establishing and reviewing quality objectives
What you state in your quality policy must be relevant to the quality objectives you establish. For example, if you state in your quality policy that you will “meet customer requirements” or “exceed customer expectations” then from this, you might derive quality objectives for product defects, customer complaints, and delivery on time.
You may already have established relevant objectives elsewhere in the business. You may indeed have had business objectives for a long time, way before you decided to implement a quality management system. They are, after all, a good business practice so have a look around and see what you already have that is relevant.
These quality objectives do not need to be stated in your quality policy, but senior management must be involved in establishing and reviewing these objectives. After all, there is no point in having objectives if you don’t measure whether you are achieving them or not.
d) is communicated and understood within the organization
There are many ways of doing this but the most common means of communicating the quality policy is by placing a signed and dated framed copy on the wall in reception and by making it part of your induction training. You don’t need to state this in the policy itself but you do need to prove that you communicate it.
e) is reviewed for continuing suitability
Again, you don’t need to state when you review it in the policy itself but you do need to review the Quality Policy to ensure it still says what you want it to, it is appropriate. I usually do this once every 2 years and when I do it is resigned and redated even if no changes are required.