By Mat Khaloobagheri
In business we are often distracted and can lose focus on what is important, the quality manual and the management system help to keep us focused.
A Quality Manual is a document that was first required by the ISO 9001 standard for Quality Management Systems. A Quality Manual is a top-level document that describes an organization’s Quality Management System (QMS). The quality manual describes the quality management system in accordance with the stated quality policy and objectives, while the procedures describe the processes and activities required to implement the quality management system.
Organizations often address the requirements of the standards by preparing a management system manual and by implementing procedures to control processes.
Many businesses and operators of mature quality systems recognize the added value these elements bring to their operations and their quality management system. The quality manual, the polices, processes and procedures are all about what your company has decided is important to ensure they can provide the services and products that continually meet customer requirements, deliver satisfaction and for the business to meet its own targets and objectives.
The quality manual provides the scope of the management system (e.g., what the business does, wants, expects, etc.). Also, the manual contains an overview of management's and employee responsibilities as well as conformity statements applicable to the ISO 9001:2015 causes that are contained and supported by your management system.
The management system processes and procedures provide detailed requirements for each of your key processes with the intent to specify who does what, when, where, how the process, action, or task is performed, and what documentation is used to verify that all required the quality related activities have been executed as required.
Quality Manual Basics
Ensure the quality manual addresses all relevant requirements, and that any non-applicable requirements. Operational procedures should be included or referenced in the quality manual, and the interaction between the processes of the quality system should be documented (e.g. process map, flowcharts, etc.).
The quality manual is often used as the normative basis of reference to international standards, and when used internally provides an overview of the ISO 9001:2015 requirements and processes. All management system documents should be properly controlled. For example, each change should be authorized and logged, and the updated document should get a new revision number or code.
Why have a manual if none is required for accreditation? You can document the procedures, scope, policy and anything else your business and the standard requires. You could create a booklet-sized resource in which the QMS documents are referenced, or even as a series tabs in a spreadsheet document, stored on a shared drive.
If you use a process map, the procedure references could be listed there. The procedures could be referenced as part of the actions to mitigate risks within your risk-register. There are many practical methods to replace your quality manual.
Communication the Quality Manual
Communicating your quality manual via the intranet or internet actively encourages engagement with stakeholders, employees, customers, suppliers and other interested parties. As a top-level, controlled document, the quality manual is often used as a business tool with the following indispensable benefits:
- Communicates business strategy
- Defines how customer needs are identified, met and monitored
- A tool to establish and embed organizational credibility and accountability
- Documents management system scope
- Documents management system processes
- Communicates sequence and interaction
- Communicates the quality policy
- Communicates the quality objectives
- Relevance to products and services, and sector
- References documented information
- Outlines core expectations
- Attracts pre-qualification offers
- Documenting and explaining exclusions
- Alignment and compliance to standards and regulations
- Certification/registration and Pre-audit reviews
- Well-defined procedures and processes
- Supplier audit reference
- Useful induction tool for new staff
- Greater visibility of quality assurance for products and services
Looking for Help?
If you're looking to create a quality manual or update an existing quality manual, Contact Acetake Group to create or update your quality manual today! Acetake Group's quality manuals, procedures and audit checklists are trusted by hundreds of Canadian businesses to reduce the risk of non-conformances and corrective action during the implementation, operation and certification of an quality management system such as TSSA and CWB.