Implementation of a quality management system

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ISO 9000 is the name given to standards developed to provide a framework around which a quality management system can effectively be implemented. Its aim is to enable an organization to consistently produce products that meet the requirements of customers and live up to an organization's stated intentions. ISO 9000 registration meets the needs of managers wanting to improve overall organizational quality and performance. Preparing an organization for an ISO 9000 audit requires great attention to detail and full dedication of its managers. Of the five ISO 9000 clauses, Clause 5, management responsibility, could be considered the most important in readying an organization for the kind of major change required by ISO 9000.

Clause 5 of ISO 9000 requirement explains management responsibility in six two digit clauses:

Management Commitment

Customer Focus

Quality Policy


Responsibility, Authority, and Communication

Management Review

An organization must address all areas within clause 5 in order to achieve successful ISO 9000 implementation.

XYZ Defense Contracting (XYZ) is a major provider of homeland defense products and services. XYZ is beginning plans to apply for ISO 9000 registration. In preparing for an ISO 9000 audit, it has been discovered that XYZ must first address many management issues-before applying for registration-if it hopes to achieve ISO 9000 certification.

XYZ operates from two locations; its corporate headquarters in New York, and its aircraft maintenance operations site in northwest Florida, near the local military base. XYZ's northwest Florida aircraft maintenance operations site is the focus of the ISO 9000 audit, as XYZ organizational leaders felt there was a need to implement ISO 9000 measures at this site. Below is the management hierarchy chart of XYZ's Florida maintenance operations site.

There are currently 78 employees at the maintenance operations site. Because this site offers 24-hour aircraft maintenance coverage, there are three shifts. Furthermore, each maintenance element consists of one team leader and four team technicians per shift. The technicians report to the section leaders; the section leaders report to the group leaders; the two group leaders report to the program manager; and the program manager reports to the corporate office. All of these managers are essential in the implementation of ISO 9000, quality management processes.

In the ISO 9000 registration and implementation process, management must be actively involved. Management commitment, clause 5.1 of management commitment, emphasizes the importance of management's dedication to the quality management system, while giving instruction on how to do so. With any major organizational change, employee behaviors and motivations are usually dictated by the actions of management. This holds true for ISO 9000 implementation as management must first show commitment in developing, installing the quality management system. By doing this, employees are more apt to become actively engaged in the organizational changes that come with the ISO 9000 certification. Strong management commitment is vital in achieving ISO 9000 certification.

Findings from the ISO 9000 audit preparation of XYZ have shown that management personnel have mishandled the implementation of several policy and procedure changes in the past. If XYZ is to successfully achieve ISO 9000 registration and certification at its maintenance operations site, management must create a strong commitment to the quality management process. Organizational leaders from the corporate office in New York are recommended to actively engage managers from the maintenance site to offer encouragement in the implantation of ISO 9000 processes, to better facilitate change. This course of action should motivate the team leaders to embrace organizational change. This in turn, fosters positive reaction by the technicians toward the organization's changes. Changes of this magnitude begin at the highest level; therefore, top management must sincerely commit to achieving and maintaining ISO 9000 certification. XYZ top management must aid its maintenance site managers, if faced with the kind of resistance experienced in the past, in the development and implementation of ISO 9000 processes. XYZ is currently developing a plan to schedule quarterly visits by top management to express a highly level of commitment to the quality management system-taking a hands-on approach to meet requirements of clause 5.1.

Clause 5.2, customer focus, is fundamental component of the ISO 9000 process. Top management must ensure that customer requirements are determined and are met with the aim of enhancing customer satisfaction. Customer focus consists of learning what customers want and applying it to develop new products and to improve existing products. Once establishing customer wants, an organization's top management must ensure customer requirements are met. While many people within an organization are involved in fulfilling customer requirements; it is ultimately the responsibility of top management to make it happen.

The Department of Defense is XYZ's primary customer. XYZ aids America's warfighters in the defense of the U.S. and its allies. For XYZ, customer focus is one of the most important responsibilities; not only for ISO 9000 certification, it also must be achieved the country. Customer focus must be a focal point for XYZ because of the huge responsibility it carries.

Customer requirements of XYZ are expressed in the contracts it signs with its customers. Extensive research in the form of interviews and surveys of XYZ's customers, during the ISO 9000 audit preparation, has shown that XYZ meets or exceeds the requirements in nearly all of its contracts. XYZ's military customer has shown great satisfaction in way XYZ delivers its products and service. While XYZ has shown that customer focus is important part of its corporate culture. The audit preparation process has also found that XYZ top management plays an intricate part in ensuring that the organization fulfills customer requirements. In this area, XYZ must simply maintain its dedication to customer focus-this will ultimately lead to ISO 9000 certification.

Clause 5.3, quality policy, explains the importance of the articulation of an organization's quality policy. An effective quality policy, flow supports an organization's vision and guiding principles. Furthermore, it is important that top management is committed to compliance of requirements. This clause also requires that the quality policy promote continuous improvement and development of ideas for quality objectives for organizational activities and processes. Within the quality policy, a reader should be able to gauge top managements' commitment to ISO 9000 and the organization's quality management system. Additionally, all employees must be familiar with the quality policy. Management must communicate the importance of the quality policy. Through continuous reinforcement, and conducting activities in accordance with the quality policy, management is better able to ensure employee belief and confidence in the quality policy. Finally, clause 5.3 requires management implement review processes for the quality process to achieve success and sustainability in its industry. Because change is inevitable in the business world, clause 5.3 is required to ensure that the quality policy doesn't become obsolete when changes occur.

In evaluating the XYZ maintenance site on this requirement, findings show that the company needs improvement. The audit prep found past instances where management expectations of quality did not match the company's policies. For example, many technicians are not clear on whose quality policy to follow: XYZ's quality policy, or the military's quality policy. In fact, this is the only area were dissatisfaction of XYZ's service found by the customer. To remedy this problem XYZ will redesign its maintenance quality policy to closely match that of its military customer's quality policy; while still holding true its own organizational vision. Management has assured that it will champion this change, while ensuring that all employees understand this policy by requiring all maintenance personnel attend a one-day, quality maintenance course-the same mandatory course that military maintenance personal must attend as maintenance apprentices. This course is designed to give maintenance personnel a broad overview of military quality requirements. After attending this course XYZ maintenance personnel, will be able to better understand the new quality policy when it is implemented. By implementing these changes XYZ will not only improve its quality policy, the company will also improve its chances for successful ISO 9000 certification and implementation.

Clause 5.4 emphasizes the significance planning as part of management responsibility in the quality management system. Quality planning focuses on: setting quality objectives; specifying the necessary processes; and/or specifying the resources necessary to operate and support the processes. Effective quality planning is usually linked with an organization's strategic planning, in order to achieve long-term organizational goals.

Clause 5.4.1 outlines quality objectives, and establishes mandatory requirements of quality planning. Requirements of clause 5.4.1 are designed to ensure that management ensures the establishment of quality objectives at relevant organizational functions; including all objectives needed to meet product requirements. Furthermore, quality objectives must be measureable, and consistent with the quality policy. Clause 5.4.1 explains how to carry out the quality management system in terms of meeting quality objectives; and ensures the integrity of the quality management system remains uncompromised changes are planned and implemented.

Findings from the ISO 9000 audit preparation have shown that XYZ needs little improvement in the planning area. Communication within the maintenance site is very strong, when the corporate office strengthens its communication line-as it plans to-this company will have very few internal weaknesses. When plans to implement change reach the maintenance site, it is usually met with little resistance. Management at this site handle changes from corporate very well by keeping all employees well informed of all processes that lead to up to the changes. Employees are also encouraged to participate in recommending changes that improve process. For example, support personnel discovered that where steps in the supply ordering procedures that slowed the process down and even caused work stoppages. Supply technicians teamed with management to improve the process, adding more paperwork to process, but cutting delivery time in half. This example is a direct reflection of how well management values the opinion of its employees, and getting supplies to those who need them, as soon as possible. This example and others show that XYZ should have few problems during the quality management system planning process.

Responsibility, authority, and communication are yet other responsibilities of top management, and are the emphasized in clause 5.5 of ISO 9000. Specifically, subclauses 5.5.1, 5.5.2, and 5.5.3 explains the requirements dealing with responsibility and authority; management representative; and internal communication, respectively. This clause points out that top management must define and communicate responsibility and authority assignments (5.5.1). This clause stresses that top management must appoint a management representative who ensures processes needed for ISO 9000 certification are established, implemented and maintained, while monitoring performance and reporting any need for improvement (5.5.2). Finally, top management must ensure that effective communication measures are established and used to the benefit of the quality management system.

The in preparing for the audit of XYZ, it was found that the company's managers have strong leadership qualities. The company's managers seem to have a clear understanding of what is expected of them in promoting the company's policies and procedures. XYZ promotes empowerment throughout its organization. Top management gives its managers appropriate levels of power to promote and reinforce company standards. Furthermore, there are many employees who step into leadership roles when situations require them to do so.

In order to achieve ISO 9000 certification, XYZ has placed an emphasis on the appointment of a quality management system representative. The management representative will ensure all quality management system processes are established, implemented, and maintained. Furthermore, this individual will also report any relevant findings regarding the quality management system to top management. The individual appointed to this position is not to become solely responsible for ISO 9000, nor is an authoritative figure to enforce ISO 9000; rather as a liaison between the corporate office and the maintenance site to ensure the improvement and success of quality process. Below is the prospective management hierarchy chart of XYZ's Florida maintenance operations site, when the ISO 9000 management representative is introduced-this individual will be hired externally, to prevent potential conflict of interest.

As stated earlier, communication is focal point of XYZ organizational operations. At the maintenance site, the beginning of every shift starts with a 15-20 minute turnover period with each element to ensure projects that pass between shifts are not lost in the shuffle. After the turnover the is a daily shift gathering, where the senior manager on shift provides all employees with information from the corporate office, promotes company standards, and/or listens to employee concerns. XYZ's internal communication doesn't stop here. Every Tuesday each section leader holds a meeting with technicians to discuss any ideas that improve job processes, or general concerns about the section. While every Thursday, a manager's meeting is held to discuss subjects of Tuesday meetings and other managerial issues. This area does not require improvement from XYZ.

ISO 9000 certification offers many advantages. This system allows organizations-with full support from its top management-to continually improve processes, while promoting ideas for new ones. XYZ should successfully acquire ISO 9000 certification, if management shows strong commitment to improving processes and procedures that require attention and maintaining standard of those which it excels at.