ISO 9001:2008 clause 5.4.1 requires top management to establish quality objectives. The objectives selected must be measurable and consistent with the quality policy. The real sign of a high quality objective is its alignment with the overall goals of the organization. Keep in mind that the manner in which quality objectives are selected and monitored can greatly impact an organization’s success.
The process of selecting objectives should be approached very strategically and methodically. I have found this exercise to be enormously beneficial and useful. If done correctly, the objectives selected should be a true indicator of whether or not the quality management system is ‘working’. Remember, the objectives chosen must be measurable. Touchy, feely objectives that have no metric, have no value. In addition, setting too many objectives may tend to dilute the effort and become a source of frustration, as oftentimes two (2) objectives may be in direct competition of each other. In some cases, two (2) or three (3) objectives can be combined into one (1). Whatever the case, it is important to select objectives very meticulously in order to find those true indicators of success.
One quality objective all organizations should define is customer satisfaction. That is the overall indicator of the quality of a product or service provided, (and it is an ISO 9001:2008 requirement). As discussed in an earlier blog, “Measuring the Effectiveness of Your Quality Management System with Customer Feedback,” extracting feedback from customers can be difficult and frustrating. Some creativity may be needed to find new ways to attain that information. Customer satisfaction should always be top on the list of objectives because it is so valuable.
In order for quality objectives to have utility, the organization’s fundamental mission and goals need to be well defined and understood. This includes understanding the organization’s “differentiators”. It may be a wise idea to tie quality objectives to those key elements that give that competitive edge.
In closing, the key to successful strategic planning is to set high quality objectives. Objectives need to be true indicators/measures of how well an organization is operating and must be examined and dissected during management reviews. The ultimate goal in all of this is to become a stronger, more successful organization.