Objectives are pretty vital to the Management System. With objectives you can measure how the company is doing against a benchmark set by the company itself. Of course the company can do much better or worse. But, setting clear objectives is crucial in creating this benchmark. In line with the objectives are of course the KPI’s which you should setup and track.
How to come up with objectives
Most of you have probably been on this trajectory. Goals come back every year and you try to rephrase them every time to make them look new. Especially for companies with low environmental impact, limited risks to employees, or excellent customer satisfaction, creating new objectives can be hard. Where do you find new inspiration?
Look at other companies/competitors for objectives. A lot of companies place some management system related documents open on the web as part of their CSR program. You can find quite some potential KPI’s in these documents.
Look closely at your organization and try to pinpoint the crucial mistakes that are made. Set goals to goals these parts of the organization.
Last but not least, don’t make it too hard on yourself. Often you think too hard and too deep and you just can’t think of anything at all. The longer you have to think about an objective, the more you will get stuck. Just answer a simple question: what do you want to achieve at the end of the year(s)?
Make sure your objectives are described SMART in order to manage them.
- Specific – target a specific area for improvement.
- Measurable – quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress.
- Assignable – specify who will do it.
- Realistic – state what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources.
- Time-related – specify when the result(s) can be achieved.
A clear description of the objectives is important in order to manage each objective. Also the assignability part is very important. When multiple people are responsible for an action, it can end up where nobody takes responsibility to complete the task and start to point towards each other.
Try to not make the objectives an annual exercise. More often than not the data is just gathered at the end of the year and benchmarked against the goals. Please don’t apply this type of strategy. In order to really take advantage of goals you should manage them properly. This can be done by checking progress on a regular basis, every month for example. In order to set a good interval you should check the impact and the volatility of the data. For example, profits and revenues are measured on a monthly basis so calculating indicators based on this data on a daily basis isn’t very helpful.
With the new ISO9001:2015 the stakeholder analysis has got a much more prominent position in the Quality management system. Of course, every company knows their most important stakeholders. However, not every stakeholder is always well understood or taken into consideration when major decisions are taken. A good stakeholder analysis gives the company an up to date list of all stakeholders and how to manage them.
Identifying the most important stakeholders isn’t all that hard. Most companies have stakeholders like:
The list can get quite long depending on how specific you get.
Classification of stakeholders
The analysis becomes slightly harder when companies start to classify or order these stakeholders. It is important to give every stakeholder a type of ranking depending on how big the influence on the company is. Yes, customers are among the most important stakeholders but for example, what about the government? Companies that have a big impact on the environment have a different relationship with the government compared to a trading company. It is important to find out which stakeholders are most important. You can ask a question like “How easy is it for this stakeholder to close the doors of the company?”
When the stakeholders are identified and classified, an action plan needs to be created on how to manage the different kind of stakeholders. The plan should include ways how the company will inform the stakeholders and regarding which activities every stakeholder is informed of. This can be structured in a communication plan, or very easily and straight forward in the analysis document. When some concrete actions need to be taken, make sure you always assign one single person as the owner of the task. This prevents people from pointing to each other when nothing is happening.
Why would any company comply with a standard apart from being forced by customers? One important reason is that quality is at the core of every organization. When an organization doesn’t deliver a high quality service or product, it won’t be in business very long. The ISO 9001 standard provides companies with guidance to keep quality consistent.
Demand from the customer(s) should never be the main reason for implementing a quality management system, and neither should marketing. When this is the case, every effort for the system feels like a waste of time. A push from customers can be the trigger to implement a quality management system, but the main reason should come from within the company. The structure which comes with implementing ISO 9001 helps to align the organization.
Next to business continuity, ISO 9001 gives guidance for becoming a learning company. The continuous improvement methodology embedded in the standard focuses on identifying and reducing inefficiencies in internal and external processes. This way ISO 9001 provides companies with the right tools to figure out exactly which parts of the organization can be improved.
A lot of people have the notion that the procedure makes the company rigid and less flexible. Although the written procedure should be followed by the employees, the procedure itself can be written in such a way that it leaves room to manoeuvre for employees. Besides, some slight rigidness isn’t all that bad especially when it comes to financial matters or quality of products and services. When you start to setup a new ISO 9001 management system it is important to be rigid in the procedure where there is no room for failure. The less critical processes can be noted with more flexibility.