Clause 6.2: Quality objectives and planning to achieve them
Quality objectives are set by the organizations so that organizations can realize their vision and mission. The objectives are the elaboration of the organization’s vision.
The standard requires that the organization have to set objectives for all functional levels. This usually means that:
- The objectives are set on the broad level / organizational level
- Those objectives set on the organizational level must be trickle down to the departmental or functional level for effective implementation
This means that if there are several departments and all of them are playing their part in the quality management system then objectives have to be set on all those levels too.
This is been done so that the overall organizational vision and mission can be understood to the grass-root level through the setting of objectives.
Attributes of the quality objectives
Standard has described some attributes which are to be considered while setting objectives.
a) be consistent with the quality policy;
The quality objectives must be consistent with the quality policy, remember when we discussed the quality policy in clause 5.2 we have discussed that support for the making of policy can be taken from the context of the organization (clause 4.0). Here in this clause standard is clearly mentioning that whatever we have mentioned in the policy we have to reflect that in the objectives too.
Example: So if we are talking about defects in the policy we have to make a target regarding that too in the objectives
b) be measurable;
The quality objectives shall be measurable, the targets are set which can be weighted in numbers. So instead of setting objectives like “We will be lowering the rejection rate this year”, we have to set measurable like: “Rejection rate has to be lowered by 3.5% in 2022”. The latter is measurable while the former is vague.
c) take into account applicable requirements;
While setting objectives we have to keep the applicable requirements in focus. Now, this has two meanings, applicable requirements can be of various types as mentioned below:
- customer requirements
- requirements of standards company is following
- any best practices the company chose to follow
- legal requirements
- international requirements
While setting objectives, all the above requirements have to be kept in mind, and objectives are also set as per their guideline and things to be done. On the other hand, it is also been said not to set objectives like “following legal requirements” because firstly it is so generic and secondly organizations are bound to follow legal requirements, it is mandatory, however, objectives are something which organizations decide voluntarily.
d) be relevant to the conformity of products and services and to the enhancement of customer satisfaction;
Objectives must be made by keeping customer focus in mind. If the customer has given some requirements like following any standard or implementation of any management system then those can become a quality objective too.
e) be monitored;
There should be a monitoring mechanism for the objectives. They can be monitored through various means like monthly KPI meetings, performance meetings, tracking of targets and numbers, and meeting on analysis of performance data.
For example: if you have an objective of 99% quality product in a month, then there should be a mechanism of collecting that data through which you can confirm 99% quality product, and this data should be monitored at intervals and defined frequency so that in case of any deviation appropriate action can be taken.
f) be communicated;
Objectives are to be communicated on all functional levels so that everyone is aligned in the same direction. Communication is important, there is a chance that those function owners who might not be communicated well about objectives might not be able to achieve them. There can be several modes of communication which include but are not limited to,
- objective/KPIs meetings,
- KPI notice boards,
- departmental performance boards,
- monthly quarterly reports
- management review meeting
g) Be updated as appropriate.
Quality objectives must be updated regularly so that to keep them aligned with the overall operational environment, organizational strategy, and quality policy which means that whenever there is any change of direction, the objectives must be updated too.
Sometimes due to some situation overall industry structure changes, for example, due to some government policies and restrictions, in that case, you are likely to not achieve the objectives if you keep them intact and don’t update them.
The quality objectives should be available in a documented form.
Moreover, here I must mention that there isn’t any quantity of objectives been set by the standard. If you have one objective it’s more than enough, if you have several 10+ objectives, which is also ok.
What matter is not the number of objectives, the real deal is taking the support from the quality policy and context of the organization and making as many objectives as required for the surety of better customer satisfaction.
Quality Objectives Planning:
When you are jotting down the quality objectives, this is not a random thing to do, it requires detailed planning.
Think of a travel trip from one city to another, this is your objective “Travel from New Jersey to San Francisco in 10 days using only 4000$” what will you require:
- a destination to travel
- when you will depart and the estimated time of arrival (ETA)
- a vehicle asset to transport you from one place to another
- financial resources for fuel and expenses during the trip
- vehicle maintenance cost and expertise
- who is going to drive the vehicle
- proper vehicle driving training for the driver for fuel-efficient and safe driving
- stop over points during the trip
- what is the Plan B, are you planning for any mishaps or accidents
These are some of the considerations for a simple objective as we have mentioned above. Exactly this is what the standard has described too, the clauses are mentioned below:
- what will be done;
- what resources will be required;
- who will be responsible;
- when it will be completed;
- How the results will be evaluated.
The points a-d are self-explanatory however the point “e” means that there must be a defined criterion for measurement of the success or achievement of the objectives. This means that if you are going to say that you have achieved the objective, you must be defined on what grounds is your statement. These grounds can be
- Are you going to mention any facts and figures
- Target is achieved or not
Quality Objectives Vs KPIs & Goals
There is a difference between quality objectives, KPIs, and goals. Objectives have a broader and wider scope which has an impact on overall organizational performance. It is a strategic directional matter which has to be set by top management, leadership, or board of directors.
Quality objectives must be original
There is a risk and chance of non-achievement of objectives if you copy it from other industries without keeping your organization in mind. There are a lot of websites that can suggest you quality objectives examples, but I will not suggest you to opt for them.
If some similar industry has set and achieved an objective of 20% growth in sales, that doesn’t mean your organization can do it too. Ambitions and optimism are good but here try to be more realistic and factual by keeping your organization’s last year performance in mind.