Driving continuous improvement in your organization wouldn’t be possible unless you have set some quality objectives. Even ISO 9001:2000 requires an organization to identify and document its quality objectives before heading to process-level improvements.
Well defined and managed quality objectives can significantly improve organizational effectiveness and overall performance. These objectives provide the organization a clear vision to every individual in the organization about the purpose they need to serve and to enable them to unleash the potential of the QMS.
Quality Objectives and Quality Management System
Firstly, you need to understand that there are different types of quality objectives ranging from senior management to the production department. The main objective in every single case is to encourage a culture of continual improvement through a well-defined quality management system since it helps you identify the loopholes in the existing process and improve accordingly.
The next-generation quality management systems also help you to regularly monitor and track the performance of quality objectives that are set based on the S.M.A.R.T approach (we will discuss later in the post)
Don’t keep the quality objectives limited to product quality. The objectives, rather, should reflect the goals that the organization set. They should be designed such that they drive continual improvement in every aspect.
In this digital and ever-changing phase of the economy, you cannot expect better results without doing something different from your competitors. Your quality objectives should be strategic and visionary so that it becomes easy for your teams to work towards the specific targets.
Another important reminder here is to keep the employee’s engagement and contribution rate high. You should communicate with them as and when required for the specific improvements as that can affect the ultimate goal of customer satisfaction. An effective QMS can help you fill the communication gap as well.
How to Set Quality Objectives?
As well understand that setting quality objectives is the first step in implementing a quality management system, it is important to set objectives using SMART philosophy. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Oriented. Make sure each objective is:
- Specific – All the objectives should be clearly defined to ensure that every team member is on the same page.
- Measurable – Any objective that you identify should be measurable in terms of size or degree it may impact.
- Attainable – The objectives you set should be within the organization’s capacity. There should be proper measures and methodologies established to meet the quality objectives.
- Relevant – Relevancy is also an important factor to be considered when it comes to setting quality objectives.They, rather, should be aligned with the strategic goals of the organization in terms of meeting statuary or customer requirements.
- Time-Oriented – Every objective should be time-bound. There should be a proper mechanism to access the time within which an objective can be met.
One important thing to make a note here is – Setting objectives requires active participation from the top management as they are likely to set relevant goals concerning the products and services conformance. Some of the most common examples of quality objectives are:
- Improved customer retention by 5% every year.
- Increased team productivity by 2% next quarter.
- Maintain consistency in product quality by 98%. Etc.
How to Implement Quality Objectives?
Once you have identified all the quality objectives, the next immediate step you need to perform is the effective implementation of those objectives. Here are the steps you need to follow:
Make sure you document all the quality objectives identified and agreed to meet. Earlier there was a quality manual to refer to, but it is not required now. The updated standards in ISO 9001:2015 requires an organization to document everything for through validation and verification purpose especially during a regulatory visit. The best option you can go for is an electronic document management software that will help you record all the important data and activities like nonconformances, and the action plan implemented. You can also record the results for an evidence-backed decision-making process.
Also, keeping the quality objectives documented will help you give quick guidance to your team towards the organizational goals.
Communicate with Team
Once the quality objectives are identified and documented, make sure you communicate those objectives clearly to your team. There are various ways to establish smoother communication including awareness sessions, the establishment of a centralized platform wherein your team can collaborate and communicate. There are many quality management software that enables organizations to foster a culture of clear communication to avoid any hassles or quality risks due to miscommunication among the teams.
Also, communicating the objectives and their respective strategies to the team ensures that the entire organization is going in the right direction.
Establish Evaluation Methodology
For measuring the quality objectives, you should establish proper mechanisms for every team, department, and function. These evaluation mechanisms should be planned at regular intervals so to evaluate the need for updates or upgrades in the quality objectives. The tracking also helps you ensure compliance since you maintain an audit trail for every action performed and its respective outcome.
In short, you cannot afford to invest your time, money, and resources on the quality objectives that cannot drive the culture of continuous improvement.
Review the Objectives
Once you have set the quality objectives, you need to continuously evaluate them as well as the mechanisms established to record the on-going performance of those objectives. There are two ways to review the quality objectives, one is through the management review, and the other one is internal audits. This will help you to keep a check on process quality if the workflow is managed and maintained properly.
However, you can implement an audit management software to ensure a timely review of the quality objectives as well as the mechanisms set to evaluate their performance regularly.
Address the Risks
It is quite often a case that your organization fails meeting quality objectives due to some or other reasons. You can expect a process or workflow to generate the same results for every quality objective you set. There could be a need for process change or improvements to improve the performance of quality objectives. For this, you need a powerful quality management software that enables you to configure different workflows as per the need of the hour while helping you identify the improvements to make your existing processes better and aligned to organizational goals.
Maintaining and managing the performance of quality objectives is one of the important functions that a quality management system needs to serve. Also, it helps in making the process highly effective and efficient than before.
So, are you ready to make your process and product quality better?