Top management commitment to quality
Management commitment to quality is important to any successful management system. Many standards, such as ISO/IEC 17025, ISO 9001, ISO 15189, and ISO 13485 require management commitment to impartiality, continual improvement, and the development and implementation of the management system.
In essence, quality ideally needs to be embedded in an organization from top to bottom. It’s not enough to expect buy in from staff throughout the organization just simply by implementing a system. There needs to be a top management commitment to quality to ensure that buy in.
We covered this topic in a recent webinar, where we went over standard requirements that pertain to management commitment and gave examples of how to apply the requirements as part of management activities. We also touched on the benefits of accreditation in promoting quality and demonstrating management commitment to quality.
Our speaker for the webinar, Melanie Ross, is the Technical Products Developer at ANSI National Accreditation Board (ANAB) and has over 20 years of experience in quality assurance, quality control, and quality management.
She has worked in several different industries, including chemical, biological, oil and gas, and aerospace. Her main role in each of these industries was the development of management systems, including internal audit programs, vendor qualification procedures, and implementation of lean six sigma.
Currently, as Technical Products Developer for ANAB, she is involved in designing and delivering training courses and supporting client outreach through business development activities. Her role serves as a technical resource to customers, assessors, and other interested parties.
This article is essentially a preview of what was discussed in the full webinar, which can be accessed below.
Watch the full webinar where Melanie Ross takes you through the importance and benefits of a full top management commitment to quality.Watch on demand
Importance of management commitment to quality
Management commitment to quality is very important because they provide the resources for implementation and maintenance of the management system, which in turn contains all the processes related to quality. Their involvement and engagement is needed throughout the organization in order to lead by example and to provide quality processes for individuals to use.
The policies and objectives that management set need to be meaningful to the organization and not just set because of a requirement in a standard. They need to drive the business towards meaningful improvement. They are also responsible for driving the integration of the management system into business operations.
The standard requirements are not just an exercise in order to check all the boxes, but an opportunity for management to show the importance of quality and their commitment to quality.
The end goal of a commitment to quality from top management? It’s the full organizational buy in that we mentioned earlier. Once top management demonstrate that commitment, it will cascade down to embed quality throughout your organization.
And when you have buy in all the way from the bottom, this further reinforces the system: feedback from staff who feel enfranchised in quality, rather than it being a job for a select few, will provide valuable insights that top management can leverage into even greater improvement moving forward.
Who is “top management” in relation to standards like ISO/IEC 17025 and ISO 9001?
Numerous ISO standards use the term “top management” to indicate the highest level of management in the organization. When we think of top management, we often think of senior managers (CEOS, VPs, Directors of HR, etc.). However, taking a laboratory as an example, they may not necessarily have those roles. You may just have a laboratory supervisor as the person responsible for quality. In that case, top management may be the laboratory manager.
In short, top management will be the person or people with the highest level of responsibility within the quality management system.
Let’s touch on a couple of key standards and the requirements they have in place for top management. We’ll take a look at ISO/IEC 17025 and ISO 9001 here, but many other standards have similar requirement for top management.
You can find out more about those requirements in our compliance checklists for ISO 13485 and ISO 15189, free for you to download.
Download our free compliance checklist today to help you ensure you are always ISO audit ready.Download now
There are many areas of the standard that state “management shall”, and we will list a few of those areas below:
• Management shall have a commitment to impartiality (4.1.2)
• Management has the overall responsibility for the laboratory (5.2)
• Management needs to define the management structure and relationships (5.5.a)
• Management needs to ensure communication takes place regarding effectiveness of the management system and meeting requirements (5.7.a)
• Management shall ensure the integrity of the management system is maintained when changes are planned and implemented.
• Management shall communicate duties, responsibilities, and authorities to personnel (6.2.4)
• Managers need to establish, document, and maintain policies and objectives (8.2.1)
• They must provide evidence of commitment to development and implementation of the management system (8.2.3)
• Ensure results of internal audits reported to relevant management (8.8.2.c)
• Review management system at planned intervals to ensure continuing suitability, adequacy and effectiveness (8.9.1)
Top management shall….
• Demonstrate leadership and commitment with respect to the quality management system
• Create accountability for effectiveness of system
• Establish quality policies and objectives
• Integrate management system into business processes
• Promote use of process approach and risk-based thinking
• Ensure resources are available
• Communicate importance of effective management and conformity to requirements
• Ensure management system achieves intended results
• Engage, direct, and support persons
• Promote improvement
• Support relevant management roles
• Demonstrate leadership and commitment with respect to customer focus
• Determine, understand, and consistently meet customer requirements
• Determine and address risks and opportunities
• Maintain focus on enhancing customer satisfaction
Applying the requirements
While the standards often state things like “communicate with personnel” and “assign responsibilities and authorities”, it doesn’t tell you how to apply the requirements. There are a lot of different ways that management can apply the requirements to the standard, in particular to demonstrate that top management are committed to quality. Melanie suggested a few ways to apply the requirements:
• Use position descriptions that define those duties, responsibilities, and authorities
• Organizational charts to define the relationships in the organization
• Outline policies and procedures that state how to get the job done
• Set goals and objectives that are guided by the above policies and procedures
• Hold staff meetings, production meetings, line walks
• Issue memorandums
• Management can make a commitment to quality by committing to accreditation or certification
Another area where you can see management commitment to quality is in the field of product certification. Product certification infuses a degree of confidence and trust in the products that are certified. Products are certified to specified requirements via testing, for example. It is an impartial and competent demonstration of fulfillment of these specified requirements by a third party
Also, by using “personnel credentialing”, management can demonstrate a commitment to quality. It helps ensure that personnel meet the required standards of training for the positions they hold.
Demonstrated commitment to quality
Top management needs to take accountability for the effectiveness of the management system. In other words, top management needs to lead by example. The team needs to understand the internal and external issues that impact the organization. This allows them to focus their efforts on the best area that they can demonstrate a commitment to quality.
One of the best ways to demonstrate that commitment is to create a culture of quality and customer satisfaction. This is where individuals understand their responsibilities and authorities within the organization and act on those in an appropriate manner through the processes that are laid out in the management system. Lastly, integrate the management system and quality system into business operations and processes.
Using quality management software to achieve these goals
Using powerful quality management software is undoubtedly one of the best ways to embed quality throughout your organization, taking advantage of top management’s commitment to quality.
Our software, Ideagen Quality Management, includes all the tools you need to implement unbreakable quality standards, achieve full buy in from all of your people, and monitor your ongoing success. Continuous improvement is at the heart of every module within Ideagen QMS. Find out what it could do for your organization today.
Learn more about Ideagen Quality Management today or book a demo with our team to better understand how it can take quality in your organization to the next level.Find out more