Following hot on the heels of last month’s ‘what do you do?’ comes a further explanation of context.
The standard itself wants answers to the following; internal and external issues; needs and expectations of interested parties; the scope of your quality management system; interaction and controls between the quality management system and processes.
There is no all-embracing formula, template, document to manage context, but rather a series of interrelating documentation to ensure the overall context can be established. Perhaps the closest would be a strategic plan, that would then be underpinned by a business plan, which would then be underpinned by process specific or risk specific set of documentations which can be in any format or media that you think is appropriate to the reader. Sheesh. What ever happened to …’I am a baker. I bake bread!’, but sadly no.
What we need to do is spell it out and do so in detail appropriate to ourselves, then to others. But how does this help me, the poor old business person? Read on.
When thinking all things quality and quality management systems, I normally try and address context with a wonderful document called a quality manual. Not a re-engineered piece of clever literacy, but one that addresses each clause of the standard. In true unadulterated quality speak. Why? Because it brings the business into context with the standard.
Oh yeah, the standard. That wonderful document you are trying to benchmark against. So, address it and take the time to look at context. Hopefully, this will then link and or reference the ‘higher’ end documents of strategic plans and business plans that will bring everything into focus.
The standard goes on to want to know about; interested parties; the scope of your quality management system; interaction and the effect or potential effect on the company's ability to consistently provide products and services and that meet customer and applicable statutory and regulatory requirements. Ouch, all of that huh. Yes.
And last, but not least, we need to have documented information that describes our context. This means it must be available in a format suitable to yourself and your interested parties, so that we all know what we are doing or at least what we are supposed to be doing. No rocket science here to address this need and to address your own governance as a business owner. Just make it happen.