To get ISO certified there are many requirements which must be met. One of these requirements is establishing a quality policy. A quality policy shouldn’t be complicated. It should be simple to understand and easy to communicate throughout your organization.
A quality policy is similar to a mission statement. It describes how a business or organization will strive to provide the best products or services possible. At times it may include other components such as environmental concerns, but the core message still remains. Do it right. Do it on-time.
What is the purpose of a quality policy?
A quality policy is important because it communicates to the stakeholders such as your employees, suppliers, and customers what your goals are with regards to your business.
Does ISO 9001 require a quality policy?
The 2015 revision of ISO 9001 explicitly requires a quality policy. Per the ISO 9001 standard, the quality policy must include a commitment to meeting applicable requirements and continuous improvement.
Applicable requirements include items such as state and federal regulations, ITAR, OSHA and any other industry relevant requirement.
There are also requirements to make sure that the quality policy is documented, communicated, and understood within the organization.
Who will establish and maintain the quality policy?
Top management is responsible for establishing and maintaining the quality policy. Physical and electronic documents are often created and updated by quality personnel or a management representative, but ultimately the members of management at the top of the org chart are the ones who must set the quality policy.
How often should the quality policy be reviewed?
The quality policy needs to be periodically reviewed to ensure its continued suitability for the organization. This can be done by reviewing the quality policy at every management review meeting.
Once established, it won’t need to be changed often unless there is a large organizational change.
Review of the quality policy can be something as simple as a check box like the one below.
Leave a section below the checkbox where you can talk about changes to the quality policy when they do happen.
How to write a quality policy
Keep it simple and make sure to include a statement about continuously improving. Think about what your customers want.
If there is something else that is vitally important to your organization, then it may be worthwhile to include in your quality policy. Examples of this would be environmental or safety concerns.
If you are just getting started with ISO 9001, I recommend keeping it as basic as possible while still describing what is important to your business. If an auditor were to come in and take issue with your quality policy, it would be an easy fix.
How to communicate your quality policy
Communicating your quality policy to your customers and suppliers is easy. Include the quality policy on your company’s website.
Communicating your quality policy to your employees can be a little more challenging. Emails, group meetings, and one on one training sessions are all effective ways to communicate your quality policy.
Teaching employees about your quality policy should also be a component of your new hire onboarding process.
Once established, you will need to train existing employees to the newly created quality policy. Additionally, periodic retraining can be used to keep the quality policy fresh in their minds.
Think about implementing an annual training schedule to communicate the quality policy to your employees.
Quality policy vs quality manual
Your quality manual is the overall view of your quality system. The quality policy is one small component of that system. A vitally important part, but still a small part.
Quality policy vs quality objectives
The quality policy is your mission. The quality objectives are the measurable items you will monitor to make sure you meet that goal.
The “measurable” part is important.
Some common quality objectives are items such as on-time delivery percentage, number of customer returns, supplier on-time delivery percentage, supplier returns, non-conforming material statistics (scrap) and/or safety incidents.
Super simple quality policy example
The example below is as pared back as possible while still including the essential components of a quality policy.
“Company ABC will provide products which meet our customers’ expectations while satisfying applicable requirements and striving to continuously improve our quality performance.”
Quality policy example for manufacturing
We will supply products and services that meet or exceed our customers’ requirements on time, every time. By continually improving the effectiveness of our quality management system (QMS), we strive for excellence in everything we do.
Quality policy example for service business
It is the policy of Company ABC to provide a service that continually meets or exceeds all customer quality and delivery expectations while abiding by all regulatory requirements.
Company ABC will strive to continually improve its process quality and efficiency.