How to Write a Quality Policy Compliant with IATF 16949
Having a documented Quality Policy is one of the formal requirements for mandatory documentation in the IATF 16949 standard. The standard doesn’t add any additional requirements to ISO 9001 which requires that top management define a quality policy for the organization. What is this policy about? How do you make sure it is adequate? What do you need to include? While the answers to these questions are different from company to company, here are some guidelines to help you define them in your organization.
The Quality Policy emphasizes the overall intentions and direction of how the company will relate to quality management. This statement needs to come from top management, since it is a primary directive for how every individual in the company will perform their jobs in relation to the quality management system. This is where you display what commitments your company will make to controlling and improving quality management.
Developing the Quality Policy
Compared to the previous version of the standard, the requirements for Quality Policy haven’t undergone a lot of changes. Here are requirements that the policy needs to satisfy:
Aligned with context of the organization and strategic direction – Instead of being some generic document that gives empty commitments and declarations, the policy needs to reflect what the company does and where it sees itself. For more information on the context, see: How to define the context of the organization in IATF 16949:2016.
Framework for setting the objectives – The policy is the constitution of the company and all other actions are derived from this document. For example, if the policy states that the company is committed to increasing customer satisfaction, the objective derived from this statement is to increase customer satisfaction by 10% compared to the previous year. What companies should avoid is putting something into the policy that cannot be acted on.
Commitment to satisfy applicable requirements – Considering how detailed and strict customer requirements can be in the automotive industry, and the consequences of failure to meet them, the top management must always emphasize how important compliance is to both customers and regulatory requirements.
Commitment to continual improvement – One of the main reasons for implementing any management system is to identify the processes in order to improve them. The quality policy is expected to include a commitment to the concept of continual improvement. The organization doesn’t have to state how it will do this, just that it is committed to doing it.
Housekeeping requirements for the policy
Along with the above requirements on what needs to be in the policy, there are additional requirements on how to create the policy and what needs to be done with it.
Documented, implemented and maintained – The quality policy is one of the items in the management system that needs to be a written document. This can be in hard or soft copy, but it can’t be word of mouth. It also needs to be implemented, meaning that plans have been made and resources assigned to make the commitments in the policy happen. As time goes on, the policy will also need to be reviewed and updated as context changes. All of this is considered to be the maintenance of the policy.
Communicated, understood and applied – Employees need to understand what the company policy is, and how their work actions affect the QMS. The policy doesn’t need to be memorized, but an employee should be able to understand what it means and how they are involved in attaining the goal.
Available to the relevant interested parties – As with many other management systems, the quality policy is expected to be shared with relevant interested parties. This can be posted on the external website or made available by inquiry but, if someone wants to know what your policy is, it should be readily available.
With all of this information in mind, you need to draft a policy that can guide the organization and provide direction to create quality objectives. It is said that a good Quality Policy is simple, concise, and easily remembered under pressure. It is important that all employees not just know the policy, but understand what it means and how their job supports efforts to meet it.
Focusing the actions of all areas of the company toward the goals of meeting customer requirements and improvement will only help the company grow – and this is what a Quality Management System is for in the first place.
Use this free IATF 16949:2016 Implementation Diagram to plan the implementation of all the QMS elements defined in the policy.