Compromising your ISO9001-2008 quality management system

Life is full of compromises. A motorcycle’s wheelbase can be shortened to quicken steering, or lengthened to add stability. You can’t have it both ways. Married and buying a house? You’ll really get a great lesson on compromise.

Any organization with more than one person has likely experienced compromise. Your ISO9001-2008 quality management system is very probably a result of numerous compromises. Despite what some newbies might think, ISO9001-2008 is not a cookie-cutter quality system, and it’s not cut and dried. It’s very much subject to the whims and desires of the organization that’s implementing it.

What kind of compromises have you made in your quality system?

Let’s start with quality objectives. How many do you have? Someone in your organization may have argued that you need more to properly measure the company’s performance. Of course, the flip side is the more objectives you have in your quality system, the more work is needed to collect and compile the data. Unless your company has more money than it needs, and more manpower than it needs, you’re probably working with enough quality objectives to get the job done, but with definite room for improvement.

How about documented company procedures? Could your company benefit from more documented, clearly defined work instructions? Or has the benefit of additional documentation been outweighed by the time needed to maintain those documents?

ISO9001-2008 does not require that you have a documented procedure for purchasing, for example. Yet purchasing is a function done by most organizations. Is purchasing important to your company? What if it gets screwed up? Does everyone in the company do it the same way? Should you have a documented purchasing procedure? Or is it just too much of a hassle to deal with yet another document?

There are many, many little decisions that must be made while implementing and maintaining your ISO9001-2008 quality system. You want it to fit your company and what you do. You want it to be effective and useful. But you don’t want it to overwhelm your people with needless busywork. The level and quality of your documentation will be a result of those many little decisions. Let’s face it, no one has as much time as they’d like to run their quality system. Your quality system is a result of many compromises along the way, that’s just a fact of life.

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3 Responses to “Compromising your ISO9001-2008 quality management system”

  1. Scott says:

    So true. It’s quite an art to maintain balance.

  2. Do you guys accept guest blog posts?

  3. Timothy says:

    Sure, if you want to submit a post, we’ll be happy to take a look at it. If it’s consistent with what we’re doing here, we’ll post it. Please submit it to Tim(at)

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