Using Quality Objectives to Drive Strategic Performance Improvement

When most people think about performance improvement, they often think of things such as customer satisfaction or continuous improvement models. It is true that both of these components are important to the overall success of a business. However, the most significant revision within the ISO 9001 is calling for a requirement of quality objectives. If you think about it, objectives are a HUGE part of how a company does business. Without objectives what would be the goal? There would not be any sort of end in mind which can essentially lead to the demise of any organization. However, not all objective planning is beneficial, creating quality objectives takes a little more time and thought.

How to Create Quality Objectives

In the business world, managers and executives are asked all the time to either develop or revise objectives within their department or area within the company. Unfortunately, for the most part managers come back with short term objectives which really focus upon relevant “now” projects such as objectives for the department to finish a certain project by a deadline or make a change to a particular tracking system to make it more efficient, etc. Even though these changes are all great and dandy they don’t really include the magnitude of emphasis for improvement that a true quality objective would necessitate. In all honesty, creating quality objectives is not much more difficult than creating simple and needed objectives such as in the example above, however there are a couple differences. With quality objective creation, the objectives proposed should be relevant for all levels, meaning not just for a single person or process but instead beneficial for a multitude of areas or situations. Next and very importantly, the quality objectives must be measurable. If they can’t be measured what are they really good for? Success levels and effectiveness needs to be observed and measured for the greatest impact. Another important component is communication, all personnel within the objective’s realm need to be informed about the objective and the guidelines in place to help meet the objective.

Steps to make Quality Objectives a Reality

Start off with a powerful and meaningful mission statement, the mission statement should be the foundation of the organization’s being. A good mission statement covers why the organization is in business, who the business intends to serve, and what goods or services are offered to meet a need or desire. Don’t underestimate the power of a mission statement. Furthermore, once a mission statement is founded, key measures need to be implemented. Often times it is higher level management that will assist with this task. This involves taking the mission statement and pulling it apart as well as translating its overall meaning into specific strategies that can be implemented. However, just like with objectives the key measures need to be specific and measurable and also represent a wide range of business interests including areas such as customer service, financial accounts, performance analyzing, etc. All departments or areas should be taken into consideration. Lastly the key measures can then be strategized into the quality objectives. Sometimes the quality objectives turn out to be the same as the key measures if the key measures were very definitive to begin with, but many times a bit of tweaking will need to be done. An ISO 9000 management representative can be very helpful at this stage if extra assistance or guidance is needed.

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