Three-word phrases are a curious thing. Often, two of the words that comprise the phrase will be fairly straightforward, while one will be more puzzling and change the whole dynamic.
Measurable quality objective is no exception to this rule. Quality is a problematic word - how does a company define quality? The first reaction is to compare your company to others, while trying to figure out how you fare on the quality map.
Here, though, we’re not talking about climbing to the top of the game. Quality in this case is about self-improvement. It’s relative, not good or bad. In other words, the only viable definition of quality that works here is the one that works for you and your colleagues.
You can look to other companies, but not for competition’s sake. You can most definitely pick up strategies and models that have worked for them, though.
Let’s get back to deciphering that phrase, then: a measurable quality objective is simply a relative and realistic goal that is set to raise the company’s level of quality in internal or external areas.
Here’s the thing – if ISO cared about you copying other companies, the work would probably be somewhat easier. You need to go for the Zen approach, though – change must come from within. It’s hard to form a plan of action, so here are some tips that you should take note of to make sure that when the ball gets rolling, it gets rolling without any hitches.
Although we discourage the idea that any company can be perfect, it’s wise to set your objectives as a means of improving weaker areas. Examine your company from top to bottom. Should you focus on productivity? Human resources? Customer relations?
Of course, the ideal would be to work on every element within the company, but sometimes the resources available dictate prioritising. Knowing what areas need improvement is one thing, though. Sowing the seeds to improve those areas is another thing entirely.
Communicate, communicate, communicate. Setting measurable quality objectives comes from the top of the company, but it’s distributed across the board. That means everyone has to want to help the company improve and understand the importance of functioning as a unit. Your job is also to make sure that your employees know what objectives are being sought at all levels – be clear and coherent.
This is actually a good time to emphasise the importance of collaborative work. Group projects, for example, can take you one step closer to ISO 9001 certification.
Acronyms are fun, especially when they’re useful! S.M.A.R.T objectives are objectives that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-based. It doesn’t sound too hard when you put it that way!
The great thing about ISO 9001 is that the standards it has are standards for a reason. This isn’t like getting a college degree you’ll never use in your practical life. ISO 9001 looks good and rolls off the tongue nicely when listing company credentials, but ultimately is a practical sign that your company has showed evidence of betterment.
For that evidence to be verified, though, all the necessary data has to be collected. We can’t talk about measurable objectives if you don’t try to measure them, after all. Would you know how much weight you lost if you don’t know what weight you started out with when you began working out?
Let’s take a small step back. In the past, quality objectives formed part of ISO 9001’s quality policy. Now they are a qualification in their own right, so although they still need to fall within the requirements of the quality policy, they definitely need to be documented in a detailed and coherent manner.
The good news, though, is that you have quite a bit of flexibility in terms of how you document your measurably quality objectives. In other words, you can opt for an annual budget format, business plans, management review output, or anything that you think would be most apt.
Ultimately, your one task is to provide evidence that you have succeeded in achieving positive meaningful results in whatever aim you set out to work on. Beyond that, the ball is pretty much in your court, but here are two pieces of advice we’ll give you along the way.
What that means is thinking long term. Treating ISO certification as a short term goal is not necessarily the right ethos for your company. Sure, you ultimately want the credentials, but if you keep up the level of improvement long after you get them, your reputation will grow much stronger for it. Providing strategies on moving forward is definitely something you will want to highlight in your documentation, then.
One great way of measuring your improved quality is through client and customer feedback. Unless your objectives are purely internal, try and employ methods of interacting with the people you do business with as a means of substantiating your hard work.
What happens if you aim too high and don’t succeed in achieving some of your aims? Is it a case of ‘better luck next time?’ Not quite!
You can still get or retain ISO 9001 certification if you play your cards right. You don’t need to get the gold medal to be worthy of the credentials. On the other hand, ISO Certification is not exactly a certificate of participation, either.
If you don’t manage to hit a goal, you need to display another strength, which is adaptability.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with modifying the goals initially set if it means keeping your company on the course of success. There are a number of options you can take if you find that you’re not going to succeed at any particular objective:
Simply put, setting quality objectives is a way to keep your company prospering, and consistently so. That can be intimidating, but ultimately there’s great merit to be had in taking your company out of its comfort zone and letting it succeed further as a result.
ISO 9001 certification is one measurement of that success, but as is the case with every aspect of ISO, the reward extends beyond this – the prolonged growth of your company transcends any certification you will get, as useful as ISO is to your reputability.
This article should have shown you that setting measurable quality objectives is an entirely reachable goal, although there’s no denying the hard work your company will have to put in. That’s why the company needs to maximise its efficiency, and that will be possible only if the whole team is aware of its role in making achieving the objectives possible. Communicate!
Also keep in mind that your objectives actually need to be productive. Make sure you’re working on areas that are truly vital to the company, all the while tackling these objectives with effective strategies such as the S.M.A.R.T approach. An alternative model that works for some is the Plan, Do, Check and Act method.
However way you approach your objectives, what is key is to not treat them as finite end-goals. You need to adopt the ethos of continuous improvement, which is not an ethos that is going to get you brownie points – it’s a professional expectation!
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