(Excerpt from Mastering ISO 9001:2015 – A Step-By-Step Guide To The World’s Most Popular Management Standard)
Organizations are required to develop, implement and maintain a clear quality policy that conveys internally and externally that the organization promotes a quality culture and aims to achieve customer satisfaction.
The quality policy is the top-tier document for the quality management system, and provides a high-level description of the organization’s commitment to quality.
To ensure that everyone has a clear comprehension of its purpose, and be on the same page with the organization’s strategic direction, the policy should be written in clear, easy-to-understand language.
Top management may delegate the development of the quality policy, but it is ultimately the responsibility of top management to provide input and vision to the contents of the policy.
This is the organization’s mission statement in terms of quality, and its commitment to improvement and customer satisfaction.
- Section 5.2.1 of the ISO 9001:2015 standard requires that the quality policy be appropriate to the context of the organization, and reinforce its purpose and strategic direction. This is a short, high-level glimpse at what the organization is all about, what they do well, and where they strive to be in the future. This goes back to clause 4.1 (understanding the organization and its context) but is obviously just a short glimpse into the information deriving from that process.
- The quality policy must also provide a framework for developing and implementing the organization’s quality objectives. This is not the place to list or document the organization’s objectives, however, it should reference that the organization shall establish such objectives, and strive to meet and continuously improve them. Of course the quality objectives are going to relate to the organizational context and strategic direction reflected in the quality policy.
- The policy must reflect the organization’s commitment to satisfy applicable requirements. This is pretty self-explanatory and should not be over-complicated when it comes to the quality policy. A simple statement showing the organization’s commitment to meeting all applicable requirements is sufficient. It is not the place to explain what those requirements are, or how the organization plans to meet them – just that they are committed to do so.
- The organization’s policy should also reflect a commitment to continually improve the established quality management system. Again this does not need to be over-complicated. No need to explain the methods used for continuous improvement efforts, simply that the organization will strive to improve its quality management system, wherever and whenever possible.
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