How to Simplify the Perception of Improvement Objectives

With the publication of ISO9001: 2008, auditors will breathe new life into the analysis of existing management systems for audit and registration, although these changes proposed in the modified standard are insignificant. The focus is likely to be on the standards for improvements, as well as setting goals and evaluating effectiveness.

These goals should be seen primarily as medium- and long-term goals for the organization, rather than as some suggest that something should be achieved from the moment of the last visit for an audit. By sticking to this truth, the client can avoid serious injury during the audit. Examples of goals include: reducing inventories, reducing quality costs, improving the profitability of invested capital; and for a designer, it’s about reducing post-designer changes. These are all reasonable goals at the executive level, but it is also necessary that every aspect of the business – every process – be involved in the goals, have its own quality goals and is interdependent.

However, goals require metrics to measure progress, and this is where many, if not most, organizations and their registrars see no difference. A direct consequence of this misunderstanding is that auditors tend to expect results from the goals set, and companies believe that only goals are needed.

This monitoring and measurement theme extends to the ISO9001 standard, so it is not surprising that it is of concern to auditors, as they do not require any technical or specialized knowledge to assess the existence of these system attributes. For the client company, of course, there remains a requirement to track and measure, as well as implicitly link them to business goals.

It seems that managers and their subordinates approach setting goals and indicators completely incompatible with their normal management activities, but there are few differences in the requirements. Every well-managed business has an annual business plan – at least to satisfy its bankers when they seek funding. The business plan will indicate where company executives expect the company to be in the future (their goals), and, again, possibly for their bankers, will clearly indicate how they will evaluate progress towards these specific goals. The same goals should be used to meet ISO requirements. The designation of ISO goals as a prefix “quality” – as in the case of quality goals – has no real meaning and should be ignored. Business goals are what they are, and how the business works, how they are achieved.

Thus, identifying business goals that meet the REQUIREMENTS of the ISO standard is less difficult than a quality specialist would normally expect, simply because the goals already exist. Simply mark the goals and progress in achieving them in the management verification report, and the work will be done.

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