Quality Objectives – Measuring Success

Quality Objectives – Measuring Success

ISO 9001:2015 makes it necessary to identify and track your quality objectives. These objectives should be in line with Quality Policy and they need totake all applicable requirements in to account.

In short, your quality objectives need to be –

  • Measurable
  • Relevant to the conformity of products and services, and also to the enhancement of customer satisfaction
  • Communicated and updated on a regular basis

It’s such a powerful exercise, because quality objectives can be the most effective way to spotlight the key elements of the Quality Policy. As a result, quality objectives can earmark the critical points for your business to work towards. And it’s through the achieving of these objectives that improvements are made.

Getting Started with Measurable Quality Objectives

The first pre-emptive strike towards tracking your quality objectives is to identify relevant goals that are consistent with your Quality Policy. The SMART principles are a compelling framework to hang your objectives on for this purpose.

Each objective should be:

  • Specific – Everybody in your business needs to be able to understand and interpret your objectives in the same way. So, your objectives need to be clearly defined, without any generalisation and non-specificity that can allow room for interpretation. 
  • Measurable If you can’t track an objective, how do you know when you’ve achieved your goal? It’s so important to have measurable objectives – and not just to serve the management system. Importantly, you need to be able to track your progress in order to stay focused, meet those deadlines, and ultimately enjoy the feeling of accomplishment.
  • Attainable – An unrealistic objective that’s beyond the capabilities or the capacity of your organisation is unachievable. So, why set yourself up for a fall? Unrealistic and unattainable objectives are counterproductive. Instead, think about objectives that stretch your abilities, but are actually do-able in your push zone.
  • Relevant – Stay relevant to your company’s context. When you stay true to your strategic direction, alignment to the Quality Policy is a natural progression. 
  • Time-Bound – Every objective needs a target date. So, set a deadline for you and the team to focus on, and work together towards meeting it.

Implementation of the objectives

Once your quality objectives have been identified and agreed by the Management Team, it’s time to take the following steps to implement them and ensure their success.

  • Document Your ObjectivesDocumenting your objectives is a requirement of the standard. You can do this in your Quality Manual, although a manual is no longer a requirement of ISO 9001:2015. Instead, you might choose to document your objectives in a portal, or even on a simple Word document.
  • Communicate Your ObjectivesCommunication of your objectives, to all relevant departments, is critical for achieving them. You can do this through a Quality Awareness training session with your relevant team members, or an ISO update.
  • Set Up a Mechanism to Measure Your ObjectivesYou need a system in place so that your objectives can be measured and tracked. In addition, pre-determining a measurement frequency supports and ensures compliance.
  • Review Your Objectives Once you’ve built your mechanism for performance evaluation, use it. And review your progress at regular intervals to track your progress.
  • Plan Corrective Actions for Any Objectives That Didn’t Meet TargetIf any of your objectives fall short, see it as the opportunity it is to identify process improvements. It can, in turn, enhance the overall performance of the Quality Management System.
  • Update Your Objectives as AppropriateSet new objectives and keep advancing forwards.

Setting Quality Objectives – An Example

Let’s say that Company X makes plastic bottles. The Quality Policy states “To deliver plastic bottles to our customers when they need them, on time, and with no imperfections”.

A customer has recently complained that 15% of the plastic bottles delivered to them had imperfections and were delivered 24 hours later than promised. 

From here, Company X may choose to set two objectives:

  • Reduce non-conformances on the production line from 15% to zero over the next 12 months
  • Ensure customers receive their deliveries when promised

Once these objectives have been agreed by senior management, they need to be communicated.

The operatives on the production line and the team in the logistics department need to understand:

  • What the objectives are
  • How the objectives will be measured
  • What plans are in place to make this happen
  • How they, as team members, will impact the plan

Company X may choose to review their objectives on a quarterly basis and develops a meetings schedule, advising the relevant departments about the information that’s needed for the reviews. 

As Company X works towards these objectives, improvements are made which, in turn, add value to the business. 

These improvements improve the internal procedures and employee morale. But additionally, they also improve customer satisfaction and company reputation.

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