ISO 9001 2000 Quality Policy

By: Mark Kaganov

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

You may wonder why we even started talking about this simple requirement of the standard. Well, while it is simple, my work as a consultant and an auditor convinced me that some time thi9sngs are not as simple as they appear. Most quality policies that I reviewed, did not meet all these requirements. A quality policy that meets all the requirements of the standard will help you to transfer required activities into your quality management system, and therefore, establishing compliance with the standard. What if our quality policy does not require a commitment to comply with requirements? In this case you may create your quality management system for any standard.

To demonstrate my point, let's go to the Internet and check a few quality policies. Search for "iso 9001 quality policy" and you will find a list of companies that posted their quality policies on their Websites.

"It is the policy of [Company name] to provide a range of [services] which is reliable and consistent with the expectations and requirements of its clients; the Company's objective of consistent high quality performance is met by mandatory adherence to protocol, through staff training and the development of personal responsibility for all personnel, together with the provision of adequate resources, according to the principles of Quality Assurance. Company policy is to review and update as necessary the Quality System through the mediation of a Quality Team, whose members undertake the responsibility of ensuring that the Quality policy is understood, implemented and maintained at all levels within the Company." Can we say what standard this company is compliant with? Do you see a commitment for continual improvement of the effectiveness of the QMS? Do you understand how this company establishes and reviews their quality objectives? I did not find answers to these questions. However, the policy does commit to communication and understanding of its quality policy and review for suitability.

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.

I did not select these examples because they did not comply with the standard. I picked them from the top of the search results, just to show that most quality policies were not written to meet requirements of the standard. If you think these examples are bad, wait a moment. One of my clients came up with a quality policy that won my The Worst Quality Policy Prize. 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 regretful quote!

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Mark Kaganov is a Director of Operations and a Lead Consultant with Quality Works. Before you invest your time into developing or tuning up your quality policy, make sure you check our ISO 9001 2000 Quality Policy.

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