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When implementing a Quality Management System using the requirements of the ISO 9001 standard it is required by the standard (ISO 9001:2015) to write a Quality Policy for the intending organization.

The responsibility of establishing, reviewing and maintaining the ISO quality policy and quality objectives which should developed on corporate objectives and values and be appropriate to the purpose and context of the organization lies with the Top Management of an organization. A vital point to note is that, the policy should demonstrate a commitment to continual improvement, communicated, understood and applied throughout the organization.

Proper understanding of the quality policy entails that employees are able to relate the impact of their job on product quality and quality control, and the overall success of the company. It involves the employees being aware that their individual contribution directly or indirectly affects the company’s commitment to quality and are important to the company’s overall success.

ISO 9001:2015 requires that an organization’s quality policy and objectives be appropriate to its strategic and operational direction. The implication of this is that, determining the context of an organization, its interested parties and their relevant requirements, necessitates a review of the policy to ensure continued relevance to any changes or updates of an organization’s system or process.

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Establishing the Quality Policy

This requirement of ISO 9001:2015 for establishing a quality policy can be compared to that of ISO 9001:2008 Clause 5.3. To ensure an adequate quality policy, the requirements of the standard needs to be considered, this includes the following six (6) points:

  1. Appropriateness & Compliance to ISO 9001: Is the policy appropriate to the organization and ISO implementation? The quality policy needs to show the company’s commitment to the requirements of ISO 9001 and to improve the effectiveness of the QMS.
  2. Commitment to Requirements: Does the policy include a commitment to requirements of the standard and customer? A key to an effective quality policy includes understanding the requirements of the customers. This is important to succeed in ensuring customer satisfaction. The requirements may come directly from customer specification, through industry standards, or some legal requirements regarding your products or services.
  3. Inputs of Internal Interested Parties: The quality policy should be usable by all employees as a focus for their job, hence it is important to gather relevant input from every part of the organization to ensure relevance of the policy to all those areas. The employee should see within the policy how the policy relates to their job.
  4. Establishment of objectives: The policy should be written in such a way as to provide a basis for establishing the quality objectives.
  5. Communication: The policy should be adequately communicated and understood within the organization. Means such as the company website, noticeboards, postcards etc. can be used to effectively communicate the policy.
  6. Review: What plans are in place to periodically review it for continued suitability?

The policy should be kept simple, meaningful and relevant to the organization. It is not a document that should be written merely to satisfy the requirements of ISO 9001:2015. It should align with the strategic direction of the organization acting as a driver for continual improvement.  As processes evolves within an organization, reviewing and aligning the policy to the changes are required to ensure that the changes are appropriately captured and the degree to which the organization’s products and services meet customer requirements are further enhanced.

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Communicating the Quality Policy

Clause 7.5.1a of ISO 9001:2015 requires that the quality policy be maintained as documented information. The internal auditors are to check whether the quality policy has been applied throughout the organization and are well understood by all relevant interested parties. Understanding the policy is essential for ISO certification.

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