ISO 9001: QUALITY OBJECTIVES, What to Do & What not to Do

Target and arows

Practical advice on Clause 6.2 of ISO 9001:2015

ISO 9001 Implementation Projects frequently run into difficulties when addressing the requirements here.  Here's how you can avoid such difficulties.  

The term Quality Objectives is defined in ISO 9000:2015 as: objective related to quality.  Not very helpful. 

ISO/TS 9002 is better. It says: ‘Quality objectives should be established at relevant functions, levels and processes, as appropriate, to ensure the effective deployment of the organization’s strategic direction and its quality policy.

For example, quality objectives might be set at an operational level, for the procurement function or the design process.’

Our Advice:

Top management may establish quality objectives at the strategic level, the tactical level or the operational level. The strategic level includes the highest levels of the organization and the quality objectives can be applicable to the whole organization.

The tactical and operational levels can include quality objectives for specific products, processes, units or functions within the organization and should be compatible with its strategic direction.

Quality Objectives – What to Do!

Choose Quality Objectives within the scope of the Quality Management System (QMS) and communicate these to the persons working under the organization’s control who have the ability to influence the achievement of quality objectives.

Quality Objectives do not have to be quality assurance related; although if this were a problem area top priority should be given to it in choosing objectives.  Objectives such as increasing sales while maintaining the QMS or the introduction of automation to reduce costs would be acceptable.

ISO 9001 Implementation Infographic


The chosen objectives must be measurable and stated clearly. Aspirational statements are not acceptable.

Example of Quality Objectives as Documented in a Management Review

xample of Quality Objectives as documented in a Management Review

Continual Improvement & Quality Objectives

The QMS continues to work satisfactorily.

Current Quality Objectives:

  1. Establish a system to record Staff performance measurement and versatility. A trial will be carried out for the production area.

Action By: M Cahill & Donald Smyth

Due Date: May 2017 (carried forward)

New Quality Objectives:

  1. Develop top-level Flow Charts for both
  2. SAP System – Purchasing Process
  3. SAP System – Sales Process

This is primarily for training purposes.

Action By: M Cahill

Due Date: May 2017 (carried forward)

  1. The new Packing System has been introduced. New packing procedures are now required (see CAR 10/15)

Action By: M Cahill

  1. Remove reference to Process Description Master Table from QMS as no longer used.

Action By: M Cahill

Due Date: May 2016 (carried forward)

  1. Five corporate KPIs (mandatory reporting) are adopted as Quality Objectives. These are:
  • Loss time injury rate (LTIR)
  • On-time delivery (OTD)
  • Days Inventory Outstanding (DIO)
  • Customer Complaint Rate (CCR)
  • Productivity (value added)

In due course targets will be assigned to each.

Reference to these KPIs as Quality Objectives will be added to the Quality Manual.

Action by: Omar Ahmed

Due Date:  May 2016

Note that the Objectives are not just set when implementing ISO 9001, They are not ‘set in stone’ and will change in time in line with changes to customer and other business requirements.

Quality Objectives Implementation

In addition to setting Quality Objectives, you must also have a plan for achieving them.  This must include:

  • what will be done;
  • what resources will be required;
  • who will be responsible;
  • when it will be completed;
  • how the results will be evaluated.


A set of Quality Objectives chosen by top management.  Also the documentation of the actions that have to be taken within the QMS to achieve the chosen Quality Objectives, and these documented in a series of Improvement Projects or similar.

Quality Objectives – what not to do!

Here we address the commonly-made errors that lead to non-compliances being found during ISO 9001 Audits.  Some typical errors include:

  • Failure to set measurable objectives.
  • No credible plan to achieve the objectives
  • Objectives too narrowly focused – must be set across many functions and levels within the organization
  • Objectives do not relate to the organization (as documented in fulfillment of Clause 4.1 requirements).
  • Objectives do not relate to the needs and expectations of interested parties (as documented in fulfillment of Clause 4.4.1 requirements).
  • Failure to monitor and/or review the progress being made in achieving the quality objectives – this is usually documented in a management review report.



Quality objectives are a very sensible requirement of ISO 9001.  They keep the QMS grounded in reality.  The need to ensure the effective deployment of the organization’s strategic direction and its quality policy is the foundation of this reality. 

Whatever you do, do not choose objectives just to meet the standard’s requirement – choose relevant quality objectives that are meaningful for the organization and aid it in achieving its strategic objectives.  Be sure that this will be checked during your ISO 9001 Certification Audit.

ISO 9001:2015 Lead Implementer

Written by Dr John FitzGerald

Director and founder of deGRANDSON Global. After 15 years in the manufacturing industry, John has spent the past 25 years training, consulting and auditing ISO 9001 and other management systems.

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