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Friday, September 16, 2011

Top management role for quality policy

Article for review – Comments and suggestions invited

Quality policy is an important aspect of quality management implementation in an organization. According to BuisnessDictionary.com, Quality Policy is top management's expression of its intentions, direction, and aims regarding quality of its products and processes.

Quality policy means what is the overall intention and direction within an organization related to quality.1

A reader asked us about signing of Quality Policy. We add a counter question - Is it really needed to sign a quality policy? If you go through the requirements you will notice that ISO 9001:2008 QMS Standard does not mention any requirements about signing of the quality policy.

Clause 5.3 of ISO 9001:2008 QMS Standard mentions requirements for quality policy to be ensured by the top management of the organization.
Here two important related phrases are required to understand – (i) Top Management, and (ii) Quality policy.

Top management is defined as ‘person or group of people who directs and control an organization at the highest level’ and a quality policy is defined as ‘overall intentions and direction of an organization related to quality as formally expressed by top management.’

On perusal of the documentation requirements as mentioned in clause 4.2.1 of ISO 9001:2008 QMS Standard, it is observed that a documented statement of a quality policy is a part of the ISO 9001:2008 QMS documentation, so what is further required (in addition to the above) with regard to quality policy is that as a document it must be duly approved for adequacy prior to issue as per organization’s documented procedure for control of documents. In this regard, the requirements mentioned in clause 4.2.3 are relevant.

The Standard requires the top management to ensure the following2:
- Quality policy is appropriate to the purpose of the organization
- Quality policy includes a commitment to comply with requirements and continually improve the effectiveness of the quality management system
- Quality policy provides a framework for establishing and reviewing quality objectives
- Quality policy is communicated and understood within the organization
- Quality policy is reviewed for continuing suitability

Quality policy may be communicated by issuing a documented statement of quality policy, which is approved for adequacy prior to issue as per organization’s documented procedure on ‘control of documents’.

Top management is required to ensure such a quality policy that is appropriate to the purpose of the organization, that includes a commitment to comply with requirements and continually improve the effectiveness of the quality management system, and that provides a framework for establishing and reviewing quality objectives. The top management must ensure those activities that improve communication and understanding of quality policy within the organization. In most organizations, QMS documentation (including quality policy statement) are generally developed by a team of people and then approved for adequacy prior to issue. Here it is immaterial who signs the quality policy or the quality policy is signed or unsigned. Even a quality policy verbally expressed by the top management in a meeting with staff or board of directors or annual general meeting may be termed as formally expressed overall intentions and direction of the organization related to quality by the top management.

Where a duly approved ‘quality policy’ statement is communicated and understood within the organization, that will serve the purpose and intent of quality management system as per ISO 9001:2008 QMS Standard. So take such steps that improve internal communication and understanding of the quality policy within the organization.

(Please send your comments to divyagim@gmail.com and/or keshavsinghalajmer@gmail.com)

1. http://qiblog.blogspot.com/2011/05/what-is-quality-policy.html
2. Singhal and Singhal (2008) Implementing ISO 9001:2000 QMS: A reference Guide, Prentice Hall India

- Dr. Divya Singhal & Keshav Ram Singhal

1 comment:

Driss EL FAHLI said...

I was looking for the role and responsabilities of the CEO, COO or MD on QMS under the ISO Standards.
I find the answer in your post.
Thank you for sharing

Capt Driss EL FAHLI