ISO Quality Management System Objectives

by Timothy Monroe

What kind of quality objectives should you have in an ISO9001:2000 quality management system?

When first setting up an ISO9001:2000 quality management system, one of the most common questions is “What should my objectives be?”

One of the requirements of the ISO9001:2000 quality standard is that the organization establish and monitor quality objectives. There is no specific requirement about how many quality objectives you must have, or what those objectives might be. As with much of the ISO9001:2000 quality standard, this is left up to you and your auditor.

Having only one quality objective is probably too little. Having twenty is probably too much. In this writer’s experience as a quality manager and ISO consultant for several ISO registered companies, its good to have somewhere between 3 to 8 quality objectives. It’s always a good idea to keep your quality objectives, as well as your entire quality system, as simple as possible while still meeting the standard’s requirements.

Some people may feel that a good quality objective should relate to the company’s profitability. A good case can be made for this, as most profit oriented companies hold the bottom line above all else. However I believe that merely looking at the company’s profit is not going deep enough when deciding what your objectives should be. Profit is a good indication that your company is doing something right, of course, but there are other, better objectives for a quality system that will lead you more profits, as well as increased customer satisfaction, fewer returns and reduced overhead.

One of the common quality objectives, and a good one, is to measure customer satisfaction. Customer satisfaction is subjective, to be sure. And it is difficult to measure using a ruler, micrometer, or calipers. Some companies include a survey with their products, using a stamped, addressed card with various questions, in the hopes that the customer will complete the survey and return it to the company. While few customers take the time to complete such surveys, if only one percent of your customer respond, you’ll probably have a pretty good sampling of customers’ attitudes towards your company.

Measuring customer satisfaction is usually a very worthwhile objective, as customer satisfaction covers a large part of your company’s activities, including sales, R&D, manufacturing, purchasing, etc.

Be sure to write your survey questions in such a manner that they can be easily scored using a numerical system. It is much easier to measure an increase (or decrease) in customer satisfaction if each response can be assigned a number. For example, one of your quality objectives could be “To have a customer satisfaction score of 98 percent”. If you ever reach your objective, you should increase the goal so you are constantly trying to improve your quality system.

Another quality objective might be “Number of returned products per month to be 10 or less”. This is an easily tracked objective that also relates to numerous areas of your company. For example, returns might be due to faulty information given by the salesperson. Returns might be due to defective product. A return can come back due to a shipping mistake. Keeping track of the reasons for returns, and how many returns are attributed to each reason, is a good way to know where your company needs to improve its procedures.

For those of you thinking about implementing your own ISO9001:2000 quality management system, these tips and many more can be found in the sample documentation available at ISO-Quality-Manual.com. Not only are there tips on various quality topics, but there is a complete quality manual template and set of procedures available. There is also a free sample page available for download.

One Response to “ISO Quality Management System Objectives”

  1. Con says:

    Most down to earth content about Quality Objectives found so far on the net.

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