OBJECTIVES in implementing ISO 9001 and other  Management Systems

Little man - Improvement 2.jpgThe Virtuous Circle: Achieving measureable benefits when dealing with Objectives

Requirements for setting Objectives in a management system is a common feature of ISO Standards such as ISO 9001, ISO 14001, ISO 13485 and so on.  They're sometimes called Quality Objectives or more often simply Objectives.

Almost always the requirements are poorly addressed and the benefits that should accrue to the organization are rarely achieved.  Add to this the requirements for planning, monitoring and measurement and for analysis and review, and external auditors are frequently presented with a confused mess.

With the Virtuous Circle Approach you can readily resolve matters.

Management System Fundamentals - policy and objectives

Implementing ISO 9001 can be described as establishing a Quality Policy, and setting and achieving Quality Objectives.  This pairing of policy and objectives appear also throughout the ISO 9001 family of Standards.

The related requirements for targets, improvement, monitoring and measuring, analysing data and review are never presented as a whole and usually scattered throughout these Standards.

The result is frequently confused with no pay-back to the organization for the effort and resources applied.  With the Virtual Circle Approach you can end all that waste.

The Virtuous Circle - a rational approach to fulfilling Objectives

Scattered throughout the various ISO Management System Standards we find reference, with some variarion in titles, to the following:

  • Objectives and associated Targets,
  • Improvement Projects, Programs and Plans to achieve those objectives and plane,
  • Monitoring and Measurement of performance against the objectives and targets,
  • Analysis and Reporting of results to top management and other relevant functions, and
  • Management Review by top management of progress to amend or set new Objectives and Targets.

The fact that these are closely related to each other is hardly mentioned.  And yet if we combine them into a simple cyclical process we make these requirements much easier to manage and much more capable of achieving tangible results of value to the organization

And top management can see more easily how the resources consumed by management systems are yielding practical results not by accident but by deliberately managing the issues at hand - quality of product or service, protection of the environment, patient safety, food safety, information security, and so on.

The Virtuous Circle shown here organizes these requirements into a single process ...

The Virtuous Cycle.jpgClick on Image for Full-Page View

And where does Risk Management fit in?

Whether you have formal risk management, or use the less formal risk-based thinking approach, you will have improvement targets.  These fit easily into the Quality Objectives and Targets box the the illustration.

Applying the Virtuous Circle Approach

We recommend that you combine all stages, except the Management Review, into a single Procedure and so facilitate the management of all five related activities together. 

Take a look at your Quality Manual, your Environmental Management Manual, your Information Security and so on.  See if the systems they are intended to manage wouldn't benefit significantly from applying the Virtuous Circle Approach.

And if you are currently involved in an ISO 9001 Migration, an ISO 14001 Migration or an ISO 13485 Migration Project, you have an ideal opportunity to seamlessly introduce this Approach.

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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