Part 13 - Clause 5.3 Roles, Responsibilities and Authorities
Clause 5.3 is one of the easier clauses to achieve. When you get it right everything tends to fall into place. However, get it wrong, and your whole system will lack direction and ultimately fail to deliver.
In fact, the clause title “Roles, responsibilities and authorities” doesn’t really tell you what the clause is truly all about – it’s actually all about clarity and communication. The clause recognises that individuals in an organisation must communicate with each another and work together in order for the company to work effectively and achieve the intended outcomes of the QMS. Clarity about roles, and excellent communication about these roles, is where it’s at.
Here’s an analogy for you – think of a QMS as being like an automobile. Just like a car, a QMS requires numerous parts of an organisation to work together in order for it to run effectively. The steering wheel, the accelerator and the brakes are the CEO. They steer, accelerate and break the organisation when required. Their role is to ensure that the organisation is meeting the rules of the land and that it’s making progress in the right direction. The mirrors, wheels and lubricants are the supervisors that help hold the company together by ensuring the plans are met. The staff are the engine-room of the business. They have the horsepower to perform the majority of the work in meeting the customers’ needs and expectations.
Every part of the car - and of the organisation - has to know what it’s doing, and to make sure that does only what it is set up to do. We don’t want the brakes looking in the rear view mirror, for example, nor do we want the receptionist designing machinery instead of answering the telephone. Every part has to understand where their contribution fits and to have an idea of what all of the other parts do. A high level of clarity and communication is essential if the car or the QMS wants to deliver on their potential.
For an organisation to meet the desired outcomes of ISO 9001, top management needs to take charge. This requires establishing and communicating the following to all team members:
- The structure of the organisation.
- Clear lines of reporting.
- Individual job roles, responsibilities, goals and desired outcomes.
- The importance of customer focus.
- Assigning responsibility and authority to an appropriate employee to maintain the QMS, and to ensure the processes are delivering the intended outputs.
How did Mango achieve this?
Here at Mango, our structure is simple.
We use an organisational chart to display the relationships between everyone in the company. Each employee reports to their department’s team leader and goes to them when they need help. This is a straight-forward structure and it works well for most small to large businesses.
Once the structure and lines of reporting are defined, management needs to ensure that each employee has a thorough understanding of their job role. Details of each job role need to be provided both in writing and verbally. Just choosing one delivery method isn’t going to cut it – provide only a written outline of a job role, and your employee has no opportunity to clarify, no chance to ask questions, no place to raise concerns. Just having a chat about their job role is no good either – both of you will probably forget 80% of what is discussed. So do what we do at Mango. Sit down with the staff member and a copy of their unique job description. Talk them through each responsibility and process, and define appropriate goals that align with our system. Invite questions and provide clarification. Take your time over this, because it’s really important.
At Mango we also give each employee their own login to our software. This gives them access to all necessary QMS information they need. Once this step is performed we then go on to provide them with the necessary training. This process enables employees to perform their duties in line with the requirements of our QMS.
An area that doesn’t get stressed enough is the importance of employees being aware of other colleagues’ job roles. Understanding the responsibilities of other team members helps every individual understand the impact of their own and everyone else’s input. It helps employees see the bigger picture and to appreciate how they are working together to achieve the desired outcomes. One highly effective way of achieving this is documenting a ‘Roles and Responsibilities Procedure’. This is a list all of the positons in the organisation and the roles and responsibilities under each position. Again, employees need to be provided with verbal and written communication of this.
Now it’s time to discuss the most important part of the clause – the promotion of customer focus! Unfortunately too many organisations get too caught up focusing on their daily activities, and forget about meeting customer requirements. Customer focus needs to be at the forefront of everything an organisation does because without customers, the business would not exist. Here at Mango, every single team member is responsible for meeting customer requirements.
Here is a list of takeaways that will help you achieve this clause:
- Everyone needs to know their role and responsibilities and communicate with each another in order for an organisation to be effective.
- All communication of employee job descriptions needs to be in done both verbally and in writing.
- Ensure that team members are actively listening to customer feedback.
- Management needs to assign the authority and responsibility of the QMS to a suitable employee who is capable of performing the following tasks:
- Communicate the importance of customer focus and the organisations vision, mission policy and objective throughout all levels of the organisation.
- Ensure that the integrity of the system is maintained when changes to the system are planned and implemented.
- Maintain the master list of documents such as job descriptions, processes, organisational charts and the systems procedure.
- Ensure the processes are delivering their intended outputs.
- Report on the performance of the QMS and on opportunities for improvement.
View previous blogs in this series "How to Implement a QMS and Achieve ISO 9001 Certification":