Management commitment and why is it critical for ISO 9001 certification
ISO 9001 is a management tool with numerous benefits to an organisation. A critical factor in achieving the full benefit of the system is the commitment of management to the system. Our experience demonstrates that when management is not involved in the development, implementation and maintenance of the system the system takes much longer to be developed and certified and the organisation will not enjoy the full benefits of the system.
In the earlier version of ISO 9001, management in many companies viewed Quality Management as a responsibility of the Quality Department and showed no or minimal involvement in the ensuring effectiveness of the Quality Management System. The Quality Management System in such organizations was not aligned with the business processes. This led to Quality Management System and business processes working in silos. The heads of the Quality department generally have limited decision-making authority over other departments or functions in the organization. Without the top management’s direct involvement, ineffective Quality Management System implementation was observed.
When management commitment isn’t evident to employees, the lack of direction and inadequate resources may lead to demotivation, and the system is not implemented throughout the organization in the true sense. Many things may just be on papers without it actually being useful for the organization and in line with the business processes.
The earlier versions of the ISO 9001 standard talked about having a management representative who was mainly in-charge of the Quality Management System. This led to lesser involvement of top management in the implementation of the Quality Management System. A major change that was introduced in the latest version of ISO 9001:2015 was in the clause ‘Management Commitment’. This clause is replaced with a new clause called ‘Leadership and Commitment.’ The primary reason for this change was to ensure top management direct involvement in establishing and maintaining the Quality Management System and aligning it closer to business. The ISO 9001:2015 puts a lot of emphasis on leadership, and many requirements are directly in the purview of top management now.
The Leadership and Commitment clause requires that management actively takes accountability for the effectiveness of the organization’s Quality Management System and promote a culture of quality throughout their organization.
Also, the ISO 9001:2015 standard puts a lot more emphasis on determining the external and internal issues, needs and expectations of the interested parties, aligning the plan of the Quality Management System with the strategic direction resulting from the context of the organization, and promoting risk-based thinking. All these require the direct involvement of top management to make it a worthwhile exercise.
Therefore, new requirements of ISO 9001:2015 required that the top management institutionalize unity of purpose and bring everyone on the same table with respect to the implementation of the QMS. Only the top management with effective communication, and by setting an example themselves, can make quality an integral part of the business.
The management commitment should not be something written in a document, but the leadership should display this through their actions.
This clause emphasizes on management taking a lead in demonstrating to their teams that meeting customer expectation is important. Equally, important are managing and maintenance of processes and continuous improvement.
Let’s understand now how the leadership demonstrates commitment towards the Quality Management System. First and foremost, the adoption of a quality management system and ISO 9001 certification should be a strategic decision made by the leadership team.
Top Management should be accountable for and committed to the continual improvement of the Quality Management System (QMS). Management should demonstrate leadership, with a focus on customer satisfaction, by providing the necessary information and resources for the successful integration of the QMS into business processes. Top Management should actively involve themselves in the Management Review Meeting, which provides a forum to consider, review and action the points detailed below.
Management should demonstrate leadership and commitment with respect to the QMS by:
Management should also demonstrate leadership and commitment with respect to customer focus, by ensuring that:
The most important tool that the management can utilize to ensure that all the requirements listed above are met is communication. Communicating management commitment towards the achievement of objectives of the Quality management system, and this communication reaching out to each person in the organization demonstrates the leadership team’s commitment towards the Quality Management System.
Management should actively participate in the definition of procedures and enforce processes that help in meeting customer requirements and delivering the required quality. To do so, top management can set measurable objectives for each process. When the management displays their commitment through the actions like these, which are then communicated across all levels in the organization, management set an example for their employees.
Active Participation of management at Management Review meetings, their review of the effectiveness of the Quality Management System, identification of the context and needs and expectations of all the stakeholders, review of the risks and opportunities, and their suggestions and involvement in the achievement of continuous improvement of the Quality Management System are good indications of Management commitment.
Author: Avital Koren
Avital is passionate about small business and working with entrepreneurs. She was the first to identify and address the needs of small businesses in management systems.
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