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How to make Management Review more useful in the QMS

Do you see the ISO9001 requirements for Management Review as more of a time waste than a benefit? Many companies see Management Review as an unpleasant necessity of maintaining ISO 9001 registration, but if used properly, this is far from the truth. However you choose to organize your management review, either through routinely scheduled meetings or through a more continuous review process, the act of reviewing the available data can be one of the biggest drivers of improvement in the Quality Management System. (Learn more on a continuous process in this article: How to Make Management Review More Practical.)

What are the required Management Review Inputs?

Although other inputs could be added as desired by the company, ISO9001 has a minimum list of seven required inputs that top management needs to review. This can help to not only assess the health of the QMS, but also to find areas where improvement is needed or desired in order to improve the processes and customer satisfaction. The seven headings below are the required inputs, and there are some ideas on what questions to ask when reviewing data for each mandatory input in order to help dig further and drive improvement.

Results of Audits. Are any non-conformances found with the processes due to problems with the design of the process? Are any of them repetitive non-conformances that have been ignored in the past, are the incidences of problems increasing, or is the same problem seen across different processes indicating larger problems? Is a problem seen in one process possibly lurking in another process waiting to occur?

Customer Feedback. Firstly, is negative customer feedback coming less often, and positive feedback more of the time? Are customer complaints addressed quickly enough to ensure customer satisfaction is not impacted? If the feedback is not a complaint, such as a comment that a response to a question was expected the day before it was given, do you need to make changes to that process before an actual complaint happens?

Process Performance and product conformity. Are process problems or product non-conformities increasing, decreasing or remaining constant? Are adequate resources present to address non-conformances? Have non-conformances affected customer satisfaction? Are there areas that can be improved, and what resources would be needed?

Status of Preventive & Corrective Actions. If you have identified corrective or preventive actions in your processes, are they being addressed quickly enough to meet your business needs? Are the appropriate resources allocated to the most critical problems to support the requirements of your company?

Follow-up Actions from previous Management Reviews. If previous reviews of data required someone to go away and take further actions, were these actions followed through upon? Were the appropriate resources applied in a timely fashion to satisfy the business requirements? Did the actions avoid potential problems, and if not, are further actions needed?

Changes that could affect the Quality Management System. Is there an expected customer or legal change that you know is coming, and if so, can you start planning to address it before it arrives? Can the cost of implementing the changes be reduced, or at least spread over several budget years, by starting early? It is often easier to implement a change on your own timeline rather than in a rush to meet an imposed deadline.

Recommendations for Improvement. If employees or third parties have recommended improvements, have they been reviewed rather than discounted? Is there improvement to be gained from making the improvements, or is the cost too great? Has feedback been given to the person recommending the improvement whether it has been adopted or not?

What are the Required Management Review Outputs?

The three headings below are the mandatory outputs of Management Review, and records of the above queries need to be maintained to show that management review successfully addressed them and identified the outputs for the QMS. The records maintained will vary depending on how your management review is structured and carried out, but they are important not only to demonstrate to an auditor, but to document for your company what decisions were made and why.

Improvement of the effectiveness of the system. Improvement is the big driver of the ISO9001 Quality Management System, and it can be the largest benefit for a company that implements a good QMS. How do you demonstrate that you are improving the effectiveness of the system? You do it by improving the processes within the system. Process improvement is measured by savings in time, money and resources, and this can be fed back into greater profits or driving the system to improve even further.

Improvement of product related to customer requirements. Again, by improving the product or service to make it better meet the requirements of the customer, you can have greater customer satisfaction, which means more customers who will return for your product or service again, or tell their friends about it. Better meeting your customer needs is one of the best advertisements there is, and it is an expected product of a well-implemented QMS.

Resource Needs. Assigning resources, such as deciding to hire new employees or spend money on machinery or tools that will make the processes work better, is one of the key duties of management. Using Management Review to try to focus on improvements can help drive savings in costs and resources by making sure they are applied in the right place the first time. Using data to drive decisions helps to ensure they are accurate.

Management Review can be a key driver of improvement

Since Top Management Leadership, Customer Focus, Evidence Based Decisions and Improvement are four of the Quality Management Principles that form the basis of the ISO9001 standard, it makes sense that the Management Review process highlights all four areas to make sure the Top Management are monitoring and controlling the necessary resources to make the company function. Instead of being a burden, Management Review should become one of the main elements of QMS improvement. Management Review is all about reviewing the available data to confirm that adequate resources are present to ensure customer satisfaction and improve the QMS and the product. Wouldn’t you want to make sure that your resources are giving you the best return?

Click here to see a free sample of  Procedure for Management Review.

Advisera Mark Hammar
Mark Hammar
Mark Hammar is a Certified Manager of Quality / Organizational Excellence through the American Society for Quality and has been a Quality Professional since 1994. Mark has experience in auditing, improving processes, and writing procedures for Quality, Environmental, and Occupational Health & Safety Management Systems, and is certified as a Lead Auditor for ISO 9001, AS9100, and ISO 14001.