Toughest ISO 9001:2000 Requirements (5.1)

In the last newsletter, I identified twelve ISO 9001:2000 clauses as the toughest requirements to understand and meet with conforming practices. That article explained the first clause, 4.1 General Requirements. This article will focus on clause 5.1, Management Commitment. The next article in this newsletter deals with clause 5.4.1, Quality Objectives. 

   4.1  General Requirements (and 0.2 Process Approach)
   5.1  Management Commitment
5.4.1  Quality Objectives 
5.4.2  Quality Management System Planning (vs. 7.1)
6.2.2  Competence, Awareness, and Training
   6.3  Infrastructure
7.3.1  Design and Development Planning
7.5.2  Validation of Processes for Production and Service Provision
8.2.1  Customer Satisfaction
   8.4  Analysis of Data
8.5.1  Continual Improvement
8.5.3  Preventive Action

5.1  Management Commitment

The requirement begins: “Top management shall provide evidence of its commitment to the development and implementation of the quality management system and continually improving its effectiveness …”

Top management is defined in ISO 9000:2000 as “the person or group of people who directs and controls an organization at the highest level”. So, the highest level managers in your organization must make a visible pledge to develop and implement a continually improving system. Top managers of a small business may be the owners or partners. In a larger company, the top managers at a registered site may be the general manager or plant manager, along with their direct reports.

As evidence, top managers must ensure their commitment is well known throughout the organization. In addition, there must be records to show how they are keeping their promise. Prepare your top managers by asking this question during internal audits: “How are you demonstrating your commitment?” Fortunately, clause 5.1 lists the following actions that should become part of their answer:

a) communicating to the organization the importance of meeting customer, as well as, statutory and regulatory requirements,

This message on the importance of meeting requirements can be communicated through activities such as: new employee orientation, department meetings, bulletin board postings, company newsletters, email notes, and performance reviews. See related clauses 5.2 and 5.5.2.c

b) establishing the quality policy,

Clause 5.3 defines the need for a quality policy that conveys management’s commitment to meeting requirements and continually improving the system effectiveness. Declaring the policy and ensuring its understanding is the required evidence.

c) ensuring that quality objectives are established,

Clause 5.4.1 requires quality objectives be established. It also requires the objectives to be measurable targets at the relevant functions and levels. They should be identified in the quality manual (without specific targets) and reviewed on a regular basis by management (with evidence in the form of meeting minutes). 

d) conducting management reviews, and

Clause 5.6 expresses the requirement for management reviews. Records of these reviews must show active top management participation, as well as, coverage of the required topics. The evidence must indicate that management is analyzing results, making  decisions, and taking the appropriate actions.     

e) ensuring the availability of resources.

Clause 5.6.3.c requires top management to consider resource needs and record their decisions and actions on those needs. Also, see clause 6, Resource Management.

Overall, clause 5.1 points out the need for effective leadership. Top managers must establish a sense of purpose and unity for their organization. They need to foster an environment in which people become fully involved in meeting quality objectives.

See our October 2001 newsletter for an article on “Ways to Show Management Commitment”: