How to write the AS9100D Quality Policy
The Quality Policy is written to communicate the main goal that top management wants to be achieved by the AS9100 Rev D Quality Management System (QMS). As such, the Quality Policy is one of the most important statements made in the aerospace Quality Management System, as this policy aligns the entire workforce towards achieving one goal.
Here are my tips on how to write the Quality Policy for your organization – this article is an excerpt from chapter 5 of my book Applying AS9100 Rev D: The hassle-free approach to implementing an aerospace QMS for small businesses.
Why would you need a top-level policy for your QMS? Here’s why: many executives know what they want from the organization, but not how quality management fits in. The main purpose of the policy is for the top management to define what it wants to achieve with the QMS.
The second purpose is to create a document that the executives will find easy to understand, and with which they will be able to control everything that is happening within the QMS. They don’t need to know the details of, say, risk assessment, but they do need to know who is responsible for the QMS, and what to expect from it.
Basically, the Quality Policy should actually serve as a main link between your top management and your quality management activities. AS9100 requires the management to ensure that the QMS and its objectives are compatible with the strategic direction of the company (clause 5.2). The policy is probably the best way to do this.
An important note here: usually, a Quality Policy is not a document where you would write all the quality rules. For detailed rules, you should use other detailed policies and procedures.
AS9100 doesn’t say too much about the policy, but it does say the following:
- The policy needs to be adapted to the organization. This means you cannot simply copy the policy from a large manufacturing company and use it in a small software company.
- It needs to define the framework for setting quality objectives. The policy needs to define how the objectives are proposed, how they are approved, and how they are reviewed.
- The policy must show the commitment of top management to fulfill the requirements of all interested parties, and to continually improve the QMS. This is normally done through a kind of a statement within the policy.
- The policy must be communicated within the company, but also – where appropriate – to interested parties. A best practice is to define who is responsible for such communication, and then that person is responsible for doing it continuously.
- The policy must be maintained. An owner of a policy should be defined, and this person is responsible for keeping the policy up to date.
So, as you can see, the policy doesn’t have to be a very lengthy document.
Options, inputs and decisions
Although it is not mandatory, if you are a smaller company you may also include the following (for larger companies, these issues are usually documented separately):
- The scope of the QMS – This way, the scope doesn’t have to exist as a separate document.
- Responsibilities for key parts of the QMS, e.g., who is responsible for the day-to-day operations and coordination, who is responsible on the executive level, who is responsible for product and service nonconformities, for customer complaints, for internal audits, etc.
- Measurement – Who will measure whether the quality objectives have been achieved, to whom the results need to be reported, how often, etc.?
There are a couple of inputs you have to take into account when writing the policy:
- Top management intentions with quality management: The best thing would be to schedule an interview with your CEO and go through all the elements of the policy. You might send him an email a couple of days before the meeting so that he has time to think about it.
- Legislation and contractual requirements: Your policy should reflect those.
- Existing system for setting objectives: If such system exists, you should refer to it.
Your top management must approve the policy, although it would be useful to first send it for review by some other key decision makers in your company.
So, you want to ensure that your Quality Policy is written so that your employees can use it as a way to align what they are doing towards the overall direction set by the top management for the QMS to achieve. Getting everyone on board will help you to achieve your overall quality goal.
This article is an excerpt from the book Applying AS9100 Rev D: The hassle-free approach to implementing an aerospace QMS for small businesses.