Establishing Objectives

A “quality objective” is defined by ISO 9000:2015 as a quality result to be achieved. It can be a strategic, tactical, or operational target.

Quality objectives are set to be consistent with the quality policy and specified for the relevant functions, levels, and processes within an organization (to ensure the effective deployment of the strategic direction and quality policy).

This article addresses the requirements to “establish” quality objectives. A later article in this newsletter covers the requirements for planning on how to “achieve” the quality objectives.

ISO 9001:2015, 6.2.1, states that an organization must establish quality objectives at relevant functions, levels, and processes needed for the quality management system.

The quality objectives must:

a) be consistent with the quality policy;

According to ISO/TS 9002:2016, when establishing the quality objectives, you need to use the quality policy as an input. For example, if there is a statement in your quality policy to exceed customer expectations, then you could have a quality objective relating to on-time delivery or customer complaints. ISO/TS 9002 guidance is provided below for the remaining requirements.

b) be measurable;

For example, by specifying a timeframe or a defined quantity that needs to be achieved. The quality objective can be measurable by using not only quantitative methods, but also qualitative ones (e.g., performance levels for a service).

c) take into account applicable requirements;

The organization must think about and consider relevant, or possible to apply, requirements.

d) be relevant to conformity of products and services and to enhancement of customer satisfaction;

For example, specifying functionality or performance needs for a product such as On Time and In Full (OTIF) or defining a service level agreement.

e) be monitored;

Review the progress being made to achieve the quality objective. This monitoring could be carried out by any suitable means, e.g., progress reports, customer feedback, or management reviews.

f) be communicated;

Communicate as necessary the quality objectives throughout the organization and to interested parties. For example, by meetings to inform persons of the quality objectives related to their activities, or notifying manufacturing persons about expected reductions of scrap, or specifying in writing to an outsourced service provider its quality objectives related to on-time delivery of service.

g) be updated as appropriate.

Potential or actual changes that can impact your ability to achieve quality objectives need to be considered and action taken as necessary, to ensure new issues or requirements are addressed.

ISO 9001:2015 states the organization must maintain documented information on the quality objectives. Examples of where an organization can choose to maintain this documented information includes, but is not limited to, business plans, balanced score cards, dashboards, intranet, and communication boards.

Quality objectives should be set and measured using suitable techniques. ISO/TS 9002 references techniques such as SMART (i.e., setting quality objectives that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely), balanced score cards, and dashboards.

When setting quality objectives, the organization should also take into consideration factors such as its current capabilities and constraints, customer feedback, and other market issues.

NOTE: See our December 2016 newsletter article on SMARTER Objectives.