ISO 9001 Quality Management System (QMS): “Management” in Management Commitment

By Mike Easterbrook, GlenView Group, Inc.

In the corporate world, there are many managers at every level of the organization, however, everyone at the top has a title to distinguish themselves as top management and senior management such as executive vice presidents, C-level positions, V-level positions, and so on.  However, in the “ISO” world, top management, regardless of title, have a commitment under Chapter 5.1 of the standard.  The purpose of this article is to discuss the importance of top level management commitment in implementation of management systems based on the requirements of ISO 9001 Quality Management System.

ISO 9001 Quality Management System Management Commitment Clause

ISO 9001:2008 Chapter 5.1 states that, “Top management shall provide evidence of its commitment to the development and implementation of the quality management system and continually improving its effectiveness by:  

  1.  communicating to the organization the importance of meeting customer as well as statutory and regulatory requirements,
  2.  establishing the quality policy,
  3.  ensuring that quality objectives are established,
  4.  conducting management reviews, and
  5.  ensuring the availability of resources.

Top management must be able to show objective evidence to the auditor that they established the quality policy and objectives, conducted management reviews, made sure resources were available and that they communicated to the organization how important it is to meet customer and regulatory requirements.  This means that management; top management that is, must take a proactive approach to the ISO implementation and maintenance of the Quality Management System.  Top management can delegate training responsibilities to other personnel, but they should be instrumental in determining what training is needed, who needs it, and who is qualified to conduct the training amongst many other things.

Why Management Commitment is Important and Demonstrating Management Commitment

It is necessary and extremely advantageous to have top management that is committed to implementing and maintaining the management system.  After all, it is a management system. Yes, that does mean it is a way for you to manage your quality systems, it also does mean that the system comes from the management and trickles down to the rest of the organization.  As ISO 9001 consultants, GlenView Group, Inc.’s requirement is to have one or two first meetings with top management to help top managers understand the importance of this commitment. In my experience, when management is committed, those organizations have always been successful in implementing ISO 9001 quality management system and obtaining certification.  It is because management is ensuring that all functions at each relevant level of the organization are being completed and being completed properly and thoroughly.  However, in organizations where management is not committed, and only wants the certification as a piece of paper to please a customer or to gain a competitive advantage, these companies have not always been as successful.  That is often because management in those companies will tell those working under them to not spend enough time implementing the system.  So when management doesn’t view the implementation as important and a priority, then those working under them don’t have enough time to complete the successful implementation of a system or they too don’t care whether the system is successfully implemented.  Success in the few instances where the management was not committed was due in part to a management representative who did care and worked really hard despite what the management told them to do and/or A LOT of extra consulting that costs the company a substantial amount more than it would costs if management just committed to implementing the system in the first place.  GlenView Group, Inc. consultants including myself are most successful as consultants when the management is committed and when those who are delegated by the management to handle the daily activities are committed because implementation of a quality management system takes the cooperation of the whole company; it can not be done by a consultant who comes by once a week or once a month for a few hours nor can it be done by one person within the organization.  Management choosing the right person to be the “management representative” is often key to a successful implementation, but that topic is saved for another article.  Here, we will continue to discuss the importance of top management’s commitment.    

ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management System and Importance of Top Management’s Commitment

Under ISO 9001:2008, if management commitment was important, under the newest revision ISO 9001:2015 quality management system (QMS) requirements, management commitment is even more important.  The newest reversion of ISO 9001 standard eliminates some of the titles, such as the requirement to name someone as the management representative, and although the title “top management” is still retained, leadership is stressed as well as commitment.  The words “demonstrate leadership” suggests that it is the intent of the ISO 9001:2015 QMS to have top management even more committed to the implementation and maintenance of the QMS.  In the management clause, 5.1, of the 2008 standard, the word “ensure” is used once, and in the 2015 standard it is used five times.  Furthermore, words like “engaging, directing, and supporting” are used to suggest top management will need to step up the level of commitment to the oversight and active engagement in the management system.  Instead of just establishing quality objectives and a quality policy, management must now ensure that the objectives and quality policy are aligned with the strategic direction of the organization.  This requires commitment because now the QMS must become a part of the decision making that goes into steering an organization in the planning and execution of company directives.  The new standard is really calling for a complete integration of the system into all aspects and areas of the organization.  Therefore, as mentioned above, a company where the management is not committed will certainly fail under the new standard.  There will be no more of the management representative hero who does all the ISO work for the whole organization or the expense of consults who need to come in to hold the hand of whoever is temporarily in charge of the ISO system.  There are definitely positive things that will come out of the more stringent requirements, it will enable the management to really control and guide the direction of the company and the quality management system in the most efficient way.  

The new process based approach of the ISO 9001:2015 quality management standard requires that for each process the intended outputs be being meet in order to achieve conformity to the standard.  Top management is in charge of ensuring that this happens, therefore, the quality of each process is now in the management’s hand in terms of showing conformance to the standard.  This will ensure that quality products and/or services are delivered or else the organization will not be able to show it has meet the requirements of the standard.  Organizations that embrace the new involvement will thrive and strive to continually improve.  Successful organizations already have the top management involved in these areas, so should those types of organizations decide to pursue certification or during the transitionary period from ISO 9001:2008 to ISO 9001:2015, the successful organizations will have no problem conforming to the requirements of the standard.  Moreover, these new standard requirements help GlenView Group, Inc. successfully lead our clients through the ISO 9001:2015 quality management system implementation process, improve business practices and lift the overall personnel morale within our client’s organizations.

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