What is a Quality Objective?
The definition of an objective is a "result to be achieved". So a "quality objective" is an "objective that is related to quality". This comes from ISO 9000 Quality management systems — Fundamentals and vocabulary. The Notes section of ISO 900o includes
- Quality objectives are generally based on your organisation’s quality policy.
- Quality objectives are generally specified for relevant functions, levels and processes in your organisation.
- An objective can be strategic, tactical, or operational.
Quality objectives are set at the top level of your organisation. They can be specific to departments, processes, teams or projects.
They set out the goals relating to the value of product, services and processes.
it’s important to use the SMART framework: SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.
- Specific - this means you need to clearly identify what it is you want to achieve. For example, here at Mango we want to increase our profit by 30% for the next financial year.
- Measurable - base line data is necessary to measure your objective against. For example, here at Mango will measure our objective by comparing it to the previous year’s profit. We use Mango to measure how we are tracking towards this goal. This helps us understand whether we are ahead, behind, or on track.
- Attainable - ask yourself ‘Is this objective achievable?’ and ‘Is it out of reach?’ For us, increasing our revenue by 30% is an attainable goal as we achieved 30% growth in the previous financial year.
- Realistic - this is the section where many organisations go wrong. Yes it’s great to dream big but you need to do so realistically. So for Mango 30% growth is realistic. But at the same time, the objective needs to be challenging. Maintaining a high growth rate of 30% will be challenging for Mango in terms of workload, but we believe it’s do-able.
- Timely - objectives need to have a timeframe. Saying ‘we will achieve profits by 30%’ is open-ended to the point of being useless. To focus staff and resources you need to define the time period that you will achieve this by. Is it over a quarter? Six months? Annually?
Once the quality objectives have been written, it is important to ensure all employees agree with them, and most importantly understand what they are setting out do achieve.
In order to ensure they are understanding what the objectives set out to do, they should already have the policy objectives ingrained into them, as the objectives will flow from this.
Making sure everyone understands the quality objectives will help in them being achieved, as well as increasing employee morale.
As quality objectives can be set to specific departments, there can also be different types of quality objectives. Some common types are:
- Durability Objectives – these may relate to how many hours of use a product will aim to perform for
- Defect Objectives – refers to the percentage of outputs that have defects and therefore are non-conforming
- Timeliness Objectives – the percentage of products or services that arrive at the time they said they would
- Availability Objectives – setting a target for how often your product or service will be available
- Customer Service Objectives – these may relate to the number of positive or negative reviews you get, therefore indicating the customer satisfaction (or lack of)