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A Quality Policy for ISO 9001 Standard

Jul 29, 2008
ement 5.3 of ISO 9001 Standard requires an organization to establish a quality policy. More specifically, the standard requires: "The management" of an organization to "ensure that the quality policy":

- Is appropriate to the purpose of the organization;

- Includes a commitment to comply with requirements;

- Includes a commitment to continual improvement of the effectiveness of the QMS;

- Provides a framework for establishing and reviewing quality objectives;

- Is communicated and understood within the organization;

- Is reviewed for continuing suitability

You may wonder why we even started talking about this simple requirement of the standard. Well, while it is simple, my work as a consultant and an auditor convinced me that some time thi9sngs are not as simple as they appear. Most quality policies that I reviewed, did not meet all these requirements. A quality policy that meets all the requirements of the standard will help you to transfer required activities into your quality management system, and therefore, establishing compliance with the standard. What if our quality policy does not require a commitment to comply with requirements? In this case you may create your quality management system for any standard.

To illustrate my point, I invite you to browse the Internet and see what you find in response to "iso 9001 quality policy". If you are not at the computer, I will help you. Your search will show a list of companies that chose to post their quality policies on their Websites. Let's review a few examples:

"We at [company name] believe in total quality. We are committed to achieve total customer satisfaction. To fully realize this commitment we shall strive to: understand needs and expectations of our valuable customers through constant communication and exchange the process details with them; spread detailed knowledge about [] culture and art through out the world through our handicraft items; facilitate growth of local artists in the region; continually comply with the requirements of ISO 9001 : 2000 and improve effectiveness of our QMS." Comparing this set of commitments to the requirements of the standard, you should notice that perhaps the only requirement that is addresses here is to continually improve the effectiveness of the quality management system. While all those "believes" in customer service, understanding their needs and facilitation of growth of their artists are admirable, this quality policy does not meet requirements of ISO 9001:2000 standard.

Another example: "Quality is the heart of our business and key to our goal of total customer satisfaction. Therefore it is our policy to: Consistently provide valued products and services that meet the current and future needs of our customers and suppliers; support each other in the daily use of quality systems, processes and methods to improve every activity constantly and forever; continuously look for means to construct change which provides for significant improvements in quality beyond what can be achieved by continuous improvement methods alone." As you can see, this quality policy did not address any, I think, of the requirements of the standard. Can you imagine their quality manual or the entire quality management system?

One of my clients came up with a quality policy that won my The Worst Quality Policy Grand Prize. They simply said: "I improve the Quality of Patient Care and all things [Company name]" No! I am not kidding and I did not misspelled or took any words out of this sorry example! Obviously, this quality policy does not meet standard requirements.
About the Author
Mark Kaganov is a Director of Operations and a Lead Consultant with Quality Works. Before you spend your time into developing or tuning up your quality policy, make sure you check our ISO 9001 2000 Quality Policy.
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