So, the new standard is shaking things up a bit. Fist of there is now some prescription on establishment and then some around communication. The biggest change is that customer satisfaction is no longer explicitly referenced. Sure, there is plenty of inference, but nothing specific.
The requirements are therefore;
The company's top management will establish, implement and maintain a Quality Policy that: is appropriate to the purpose and context of the company and supports its strategic directions; provides a framework for setting Quality Objectives; includes a commitment to satisfy applicable requirements and; includes a commitment to continual improvement of the Quality Management System.
Simple. This is a standard folks. A set of requirements. So, to make a quality policy compliant, include each of the above in the policy. Do not leave anything out. The good news, is you get to determine the detail to suit. So, make it appropriate, make fit your context enable it to support your strategic directions whether through explicit detail or reference to. The linkage to strategic directions is so important here as it screams legitimacy and demonstrates the importance of quality.
Whilst it wants a provision for quality objectives, it doesn’t mean you must describe the framework within the policy (unless of course you want to). More on that a little later. State you are committed to satisfy applicable requirements and if desired, state some of these (not recommended) and always include the final commitment of continual improvement, which is the essence of quality assurance.
But let’s look at the actual structure and intent of a quality policy or in fact, any policy document. Here are the Mason rules for any policy…1) signed, yes actually signed by the MD, CEO and as desired, signed by the functional head as well. 2) One page only. If you cannot get you point, rule, intent across in one page, then no one will read it and the point of any policy is to get people to read and understand it at all levels of a company. 3) have structure concerning the what, why, how and commit. But it isn’t just sufficient to have a policy. You must communicate it as well. The new standard has made a positive step in establishing some rules around communication. These being the quality policy is: available and be maintained as documented information; communicated, understood and applied within the company and; available to relevant interested parties, as appropriate.
So, let’s break this down. The first thing you need to be aware of is that the standard has deemed the quality policy as a maintained documented information. This means it must ‘written’ in a format of your choosing and it must be handled in a controlled manner. Next is availability. I really love hard copy, nicely framed policy documents. I like them in the foyer, on a communication board, in the lunchroom, boardroom, intranet, web site, product catalogue, literally anywhere you want to communicate the importance of the document.
Now that you have communicated the document, we need to apply it and make it understood. Application is easy. Walk the talk. With it linked to strategic direction and quality objectives, everyone can see the applicability. And once they see that, the understanding becomes apparent. But don’t just leave all of that to chance. Make sure the quality policy and the qms is embedded in the induction process, the refresher / update training process and that there is some form of revision, test, survey of the intents to demonstrate to themselves of what is trying to be achieved.