Do you have ISO9001-2008? How well are your quality objectives working for you?

Recently I performed a complete internal audit for a small manufacturing company that was soon to have their initial ISO9001-2008 registration audit. While going through their documentation, I found they had completely missed the boat on their quality objectives. Their quality objectives were too vague, and not measurable. It might be nice to say something like “Our objective is to provide the best quality products”, but that is not specific, and there’s no way to measure this.

The ISO9001 standard, section 5.4.1, states that top management shall ensure that quality objectives, including those needed to meet requirements for product, are established at relevant functions and levels within the organization. The quality objectives shall be measurable and consistent with the quality policy. You’ll notice the standard says quality objectives “shall” be measurable. It doesn’t say “might be”, or “could be”. If you want to get certified to ISO9001-2008, you must have measurable quality objectives.

This usually involves a number, or a percentage. First you must decide what are appropriate things to measure in your company. How do you measure quality? Percentage of items that fail final inspection? Percentage of parts that are rejected after a particular process? Number of customer complaints each month? Number or percentage of customer returns each quarter? These are all perfectly acceptable ways to measure quality, but they may not go far enough.

Maybe you want to break it down further, to satisfy the ISO9001 requirement that quality objectives are “established at relevant functions and levels”. How about objectives such as “Product rejected after the paint process to be at .01 percent or less of total parts manufactured per quarter”. And you could create similar objectives for rejected parts after major processes. If you want to get carried away, you could measure rejections after every process.

Keep in mind you want to create quality objectives that you will have to periodically gather statistical data so you can guage your performance relative to your quality objectives. You will probably want to measure aspects of your operation where the data gathering is relatively easy. If you have a computerized method of keeping track of rejections from various processes, for example, you’ll want to take advantage of whatever automation you can.

So how well are your quality objectives working for you? Are your objectives meaningless, only there to make the auditor happy? Or do they give you meaningful data that helps you to decide where to focus resources to increase quality, lower costs, and increase customer satisfaction? In an ideal world, your quality objectives should be meaningful, easy to measure, relevant to various levels in your organization, and they should provide you with valuable information on how you can improve your company, and improve your bottom line.

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6 Responses to “Do you have ISO9001-2008? How well are your quality objectives working for you?”

  1. ISO 9001 says:

    Hi! You are making good jobs. I am from Turkey- istanbul. We have a certification body. Keep sharing…

  2. First you know objective of ISO 9001 and know their benefit. Then decide to get ISO certification.

  3. It is very vital for businesses to gain ISO certification in order gain good reputation in the market and eventually gain trust of the customers.

  4. If one wants to gain success by means of quality and customer satisfaction, ISO certification are really necessary for that. ISO certified companies experience increased productivity and improved financial results compared to the certified companies.

  5. Corey Andrus says:

    In the many internal and external audits that I have conduct I find the observations discussed in this article to be accurate and commonplace. Most companies have quality objectives but they tend to be higher level and for management to review. Lower level, process / product oriented objectives require a higher degree of organization and planning which can be difficult for companies that are constantly fighting fires i.e. are focused on day to day problems and not improvement. Quality objectives serve as a driver for improvement through preventive and corrective actions. Responding to trends in process or product specific data means you are attacking a problem at the lowest level. It also enables the workforce on the floor to address the problem if they can see their objectives and what direction they are going. But the metrics need to be meaningful to the workforce and displayed in an easy to read format like a chart showing the quantities of each major defect and the overall target vs actual. This allows the workforce to see how well they are doing to goal and what the contributors are. Visual factory is important when trying to convey quality objectives to the workforce. The other key is management walking the floor and taking notice of these objectives and the performance. Good topic. I agree with the author, this doesn’t have to be hard and the benefits can be tremendous when you empower the workforce.

  6. But the metrics need to be meaningful to the workforce and displayed in an easy to read format like a chart showing the quantities of each major defect and the overall target vs actual.

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