ISO Management Representative: Key Qualities to Look For.

By Mike Easterbrook, GlenView Group, Inc.

No matter if an organization is implementing ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management System (QMS), ISO 14001:2015 Environmental Management System, AS 9100C Aviation Quality Management System, ISO 17025 Quality Management System for Testing and Calibration Laboratories, or Responsible Recycling, one common requirement is: Management Representative.  The purpose of this article is to define key qualities of an effective Management Representative using general QMS requirements as the baseline.

Management Representative Requirements

Clause 5.5.2 of ISO 9001:2008 is entitled “Management Representative.”  It states that top management shall appoint a management representative to ensure processes for the system are established, to report to top management on the performance of the system, and to ensure promotion of awareness of customer requirements throughout the organization.  The management representative must accomplish all these tasks despite any other responsibilities and tasks that they may have as an employee.”

The management representative is a very important, necessary, and required position within an organization trying to implement or living within a Quality Management System.  The management representative is like that coach of a team, they have their job and their assignments, but each player has their own assignments as well.  Furthermore, the management representative reports to top management like a coach reports to the owner of a team.

Management RepresentativeRequirements

Let’s look at the language in Clause 5.5.2 and break it down into sections.

“Ensure processes are established”

One the first things that need to be done when establishing a management system are to identify an organization’s key processes.  Certain processes may need to be added in order to conform to the requirements of the standard.  For instance, the receiving process may need to add a sub-process for control of non-conforming product/material.  It is the management representative’s responsibility to ensure that all necessary processes to conform to the standard are identified and established.  The easiest way for a management representative to identify and ensure that the processes are established for the QMS is to begin drafting the interaction of processes if one doesn’t exists already.  This is important for two reasons, first, it is a requirement of the standard and second, it will help to identify the relationship between one process to another process and how all the processes work together.

The interaction of processes will show how the requirements of the standard like the process of management planning which includes reviewing the policy and developing company objective among other things relates with the processes of say customer account management.  For example, a requirement of the standard is to assess customer satisfaction, so in management planning, one of the objectives may be to conduct customer satisfaction surveys.  This will be communicated to customer account management who will in turn create a survey, send it customers, get results and the management representative will report to management the results of the survey and customer satisfaction.  In that sense there is both an input and an output from both the customer account management processes and the management planning processes and that is how the processes are interrelated.  The interaction of processes is developing how all the processes are related to one another and how they are related to the requirements of the standard such as internal auditing, corrective actions, objectives, and so on.

“Report to Top Management”

As mentioned above, the management representative would report to top management about the results of the customer satisfaction survey so that management can determine if the organization is meeting their objectives.  However, the management representative reports to top management on a lot of other areas of the management system.  After an internal audit or external audit, the management representative would report the results of the audit to the management, this would likely be done in a management review.  However, the management representative may also report to top management when a new process is identified, when there is an area that is generating a lot of corrective actions, or better yet, when an area is excelling and generating a lot of preventive actions.  The management representative may even report to top management about changes or revisions to particular forms or documents in order to receive top management’s approval before the new document or new revision is released throughout the organization (this depends on the size of the organization and organization’s document approval procedure).  The management representative has the responsibility of keeping the top management up to date on the “health” of the system so to speak, whether the system is healthy or sick.

“Ensure promotion of awareness of customer requirements”

One of the key reasons for a QMS is to ensure that customer’s are satisfied.  Customers are satisfied when their requirements for a product or service are met.  It is the responsibility of the management representative to make sure the organization and each respective process know how they contribute to meeting customer requirements.  This may be through training that is conducted by the management representative or by each respective department head or process owner.  It may also be through internal audits or procedural reviews.  It could be through a demonstration of the interaction of the processes.  Customer requirements feed into customer account management and the output after the necessary service or products is made or completed is a satisfied customer.  Helping the organization and each respective employee figure out how they fit into the picture promotes this awareness of customer requirements.

MR Responsibility in small to medium size organizations versus large organizations

The Management Representative responsibility in a small to medium size organization might greatly vary.

Small to medium size organizations

In a small to medium size organization, the management representative will likely have another job besides being management representative  There is no right position which management should chose the management representative from, however, the management should chose the best person aside from their position for the job of management representative  This portion is true for both small to large organizations.  However, with that being said, the management representative is usually someone in the organization who has a job function that already relates to quality such as a quality control manager.   But that does not mean that a person must have a position related to quality, the person’s own work ethic and personal qualities are far more important.

During the implementation process, the management representative will likely be working close to half time for several months on getting the system implemented and ingrained in the culture of the organization.  However, one of the most important things that the management representative needs to do is ensure that the people in the organization understand their role in the management system.  Far too often, people in the organization can be misled into thinking that the management representative is the one that does the “ISO job,” but that is far from the truth.  As stated above, although the management representative may be the coach, each player has a play to run.

Shared responsibility

The most efficient systems are systems where the responsibility of implementing and maintaining the management system is shared not only by department heads, or process owners, but also by all persons throughout the organization.  When persons at all levels of the organization feed into the corrective action and prevention action process, understand the respective objectives for the process that they work on, contribute to revisions of procedures and work instructions when necessary, and when the organization sees the value of the quality management system, then the management system will truly work in the most efficient manner and one will observe continual improvement throughout the processes.  It is so important for the management representative to get this way of thinking ingrained in the organization during implementation, without it, the organization’s system will never fully flourish.

Large Organizations

In a large organization, the management representative should be a person’s full time job with a team working under the management representative. The definition of a large size company varies, but let’s just say for our purposes a large organization employs more than 500 people.  Overseeing that all processes in an organization that size are established is a full time tasks.  Furthermore, keeping records intact and in an easily retrievable manner is a challenge as well for an organization of that size.

A full time management representative at a large size organization might have a team working under them, and those persons may have several tasks such as conducting internal audits, issuing corrective actions, providing training, collecting data for Key Process Indicators, following up on corrective actions to determine the effectiveness of the corrective action, and many other tasks.  At a company that large, there may be one or two internal audits per month.  Granted, the internal audit is not going to be a full system audit, but only sections of the system like one or two or three processes a month.  Planning, conducting, distributing results, issuing corrective actions, helping with risks assessments and root cause analysis and so on will take some time and requires necessary resources.  That is why a full time management representative will likely have a sizable team working under them.

Management Representative’s Characteristics

There are many qualities and characteristics that would be advantageous for an organization should their management representative possess such qualities, however, there are a few that are quite necessary.

Multi-tasking –A management representative must learn to multi-task well and manage several different projects and tasks at once.  This is because the management representative is responsible for overseeing and ensuring processes are established for the whole organization.

Delegating responsibility –As mentioned above, the “ISO job” is not a one-person show.  Therefore, the management representative must delegate responsibility.  With delegating responsibility, the person who delegates must chose who to delegate to, when to oversee or supervise, and when the let go and let the person whom the task was delegated to run with the task.  If the team working under the management representative is not good and can’t handle to manage some tasks without supervision, the management rep’s task will become quite cumbersome.  It is a waste of company resources when a management representative has to spend a majority of their time micro managing others to get the job done, in those situations, the organization loses most of the value of having a management system in place.

 Assertive and self-motivated–As multi-tasking is connected to delegating, so is being assertive connected to be delegating responsibility.  A management representative needs to be assertive in order to hold people accountable and motivate people in the right way in order to complete the tasks that are delegated to them.  Furthermore, the management representative position is not a passive task; they must be involved and make themselves visible and known throughout the organization.  This takes a person who will stand their ground and not succumb to office politics, but will work with others to create a team environment of accomplishing tasks.  It is very satisfying to see an organization that embraces their quality management system and thrives in the system.  Usually, that success is highly due to choosing the right person to the management representative for the organization.


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