Leadership doesn’t always equal management. The term leadership impacts behavior and is considered a skill; however, the word management focuses on processes, and is more of a title or role. Any way you look at it, with the transition to ISO 9001:2015, leadership teams and executives must be prepared for some of the new requirements, as their involvement is increasing. To become certified ISO 9001:2015, leaders are explicitly required to take a more managerial role when it comes to their company’s QMS. The increased participation by leadership means more accountability and better control for their business partners.
ISO 9001:2015 Section/Clause 5 Requirements
Although written to encourage leadership participation in 2008, Section 5 of ISO 9001:2015 provides a more structured set of rules regarding leadership involvement in the QMS adoption. Now, leaders are required as follows:
- Must demonstrate that leaders are actively engaged in activities surrounding the company’s QMS, and not simply approve standards enacted by junior management;
- No longer can decisions be delegated to a “management representative”;
- QMS is directed by the highest level of management over the aspect of the organization covered by the QMS. This may allow for department leadership to manage the QMS, if only certain aspects of the organization are included in the QMS;
- Ensure that the context of the organization is clearly stated, preventing a deviation from the company’s objectives.
Certain Activities Require Management Participation
There are some requirements found within the ISO 9001:2015 update which provide for both leadership teams and lower management teams to work collaboratively for creation and implementation. Some examples of these are:
- Establishing policies and objectives which are consistent with the company’s strategic direction–The organization may have individuals uniquely qualified to create effective policies, and now as a customer, you are provided with assurance that your relationship will not veer off track due to misguidance
- Integrating QMS into existing business processes; where the EMS provider has proven processes in place, they may not need to overhaul their existing procedures to incorporate a QMS, and have leaders from different departments assisting with the integration;
- Providing resources which enable QMS creation and implementation. Some staff members may take specialized training specifically for bringing in and maintain resources, but now leaders must truly understand the way the business runs. This will improve communication as transparency is increased with leadership knowledge of operations.
Matters Specifically Assigned to Leadership
ISO 9001:2015 creates veritable motivational speakers from the EMS provider leadership team. They are ultimately responsible for several tasks, including:
- QMS accountability; Now leaders will be audited, both externally and internally;
- Promotion of the process approach and risk-based thinking;
- Communicating the importance of the QMS to the entire organization;
- Confirming to the QMS requirements, and making certain that good policy and objectives are spelled out and followed through;
- Hiring, training, and supporting people within the organization who can expediate and improve the implementation of QMS;
- Promote improvement throughout the company; as issues and inefficiencies are discovered, leaders guide the organization through the improvement process;
- Support managers; Leaders need additional managers to drive the company forward in fulfilling its objectives while maintaining QMS, and it is crucial that strengthen their roles within the organization. There may be some challenge for subordinates who will be auditing the activities of leaders;
Where Leaders are Held Accountable in ISO 9001:2015
For some companies, these revisions will be easy; their top management team is already convinced of the QMS’s value and forward-thinking in terms of how to not only measure success, but to recognize areas where improvement is necessary. There are those, however, where the top echelon of leadership is disconnected to the company’s processes, where there will be more of a learning curve and may struggle to incorporate this process approach to their day-to-day business style.
Some of the areas where leaders are ultimate accountable are:
- Metrics: Is the QMS truly effective, how is it measured and how does management participate in this process? You are provided with proof that your EMS provider is meeting measurable goals.
- Compliance: Is management ensuring that all requirements (by customers, statutory, and regulatory) are being met at all levels of operation? You have access to documentation of compliance which supports your own operations.
- Availability of Resources: Are leaders reviewing the resources used for creating or updating the QMS, and training employees, looking for discrepancies or areas where they are inadequate?
- Prioritizing the QMS: This standard is a living, breathing record, created to regulate activities, measure inputs and outputs, and to ensure the company’s objectives are met. Are the leaders promoting its importance on a regular basis?
The changes involved in ISO 9001:2015 are significant for leadership teams.
Leadership is crucial to a successful company, especially in today’s customer-driven manufacturing industry. Successful EMS providers will take advantage of these strengthened requirements to strengthen their own your company, using specific skills to motive and lead team members within an effective structure where all participants understand company processes and can succeed within the framework, providing you with superior service. Their updated QMS provides a commitment to the company’s objectives from the top down, preventing gaps which can occur when management is not accountable for the effectiveness of the QMS. Modeling a strong commitment to a risk management approach provides easily measured results and the means to solve issues as they arise. The focus on risk management allows them the agility to work under many different challenges, maintaining their commitment to a successful relationship. And finally, through these changes, their leadership can effectively communicate the most important part of your connection with them—providing you with products you can stand behind!
SMC has been proactive in becoming ISO 9001:2015 certified, ensuring our team is well-versed in the new requirements and understanding the benefits to the new standard. When searching for an ISO 9001:2015 certified EMS provider, look no further than SMC!