Posts Tagged ‘AS 9100’

Are company objectives for quality really working as a tool for improvement?

Monday, April 12th, 2010

Part of our top ten series of reasons some companies are not getting the most from their quality system -

Reason #7 – Quality objectives are never changed

One of the key requirements in quality standards such as ISO 9001, ISO/TS 16949, AS9100 and others is that an organization must establish and measure objectives for quality. Even though this is just one of numerous requirements found in various ISO standards, this one key mandate may provide the most overall benefit to an organization.

Setting objectives for quality throughout the company and monitoring those objectives should provide a useful overview of how well processes are performing. At times, we see companies that establish simple goals and objectives that are too easily met and remain virtually unchanged, sometimes over a period of years. When this pattern of perceived “success” in meeting objectives is investigated, it is often exposed that there is a company culture that assumes it is better to portray a positive than display any type of negative trend to either customers or third party auditors.

This can be a major roadblock in making the quality system a true tool for continual improvement. It often fosters a feeling of apathy in many employees who view the quality system as simple window dressing for keeping the current customer base happy and impressing potential customers. Once this attitude becomes part of the overall organizational culture, it is tough to reverse – but not impossible.

A primary function of top management should be to examine if current objectives and goals are providing a true evaluation of overall performance. The key output of this review should be to establish new goals that may be more realistic in terms of driving process improvement. Just because an organization may not be meeting goals and objectives and an analysis of data may show a negative trend, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the company is a quality freight train wreck.

By linking continual improvement initiatives and programs to numbers that aren’t traveling in the desired direction shows that the organization is truly dedicated to continual improvement. Once the top management of an organization like that described above makes a strategic paradigm shift in reviewing and understanding quality objectives, good things will happen. It will not only make the company look stronger to customers and auditors, but to those employees who are hoping for real process improvement.