The requirements in ISO 9001:2015 with reference to the purpose of the organization, the questions about mission, identification, dealing with influencing factors as well as expectations: all of these feed into an organization’s quality policy. If this quality policy is not exclusively presented on the website in a promotionally effective manner, but is also lived in the company, this is an immensely important field of action for the quality manager. In this BloQ article, you will learn why a lived quality policy is crucial for sustainable success and must also be morally justifiable.
The quality policy sets the framework for all quality management activities and processes. It must include a commitment to continuous improvement of the quality management system and is defined by the behavior of all employees. In this context, ISO 9001, which requires that the quality policy be formulated in writing, makes the task more complex for top management; at the same time, however, it helps to bring the policy closer to the reality of the company and thus more in line with individual processes. Nevertheless, there are great differences in how companies ultimately implement the quality policy. And it is not uncommon for discrepancies to arise.
What is the reason for this? Often the quality policy is linked to the principle of an organizational structure, which consists of division of labor and control. However, this is the opposite of systems thinking – that is, the ability to see the whole reality, talk about it, and thus better understand and work with underlying systems. The organizational structure is therefore also unsuitable for developing into a digital factory. If systems thinking and organizational structure collide in a company, friction is inevitable. If, despite this, decisions are made on the basis of a division of labor between powerful departments and line managers, the digital factory will not be a great success. But if the digital factory is in the context of the organization and its vision, mission and values, the systems thinker comes into play. In short, companies do well to understand and formulate quality policy in the context of the entire operation.
But what does all this have to do with morals? Well, quality policy is closely related to credible as well as sustainable leadership and this is now – at least in Europe – also based on morals. Companies want to create added value: ideally, their products should be of good quality, fulfill their intended purpose and bind consumers to their brand for as long as possible. However, companies are aware that this good quality often comes at a high price, which has nothing to do with financial resources – and customers are aware of this anyway. That’s why it’s not only morally reprehensible today, but even uneconomical in the long run to “buy” quality with child labor, overexploitation of nature or legal tax tricks.
A sustainable quality policy is becoming increasingly important, not least in view of the resolutions on the Supply Chain Act. As a result, companies see themselves as responsible not only for their own processes, but also for those of their direct suppliers. In the digital, globalized world, they can hardly rest on the assumption that strategies that have worked so far will continue to work in the future. Sustainability and fair dealings with all stakeholders are becoming or are already part of their responsibility. The fact that diligence in terms of human rights and environmental protection also polishes up the company’s own image and convinces discerning customers is likely to be a further reason for rethinking.
Context and morals must therefore be taken into account in the strategic orientation of quality policy in order to achieve long-term success. However, strategic leadership can also only be effective with regard to sustainability if it is lived credibly – starting with top management. From the strategic orientation and via the purpose of the company, the requirements for quality management and the quality policy result. These are in turn realized by determining, monitoring and controlling the external and internal content. Software for quality management can save processing time and additional effort in the implementation of quality objectives. The solutions from Babtec’s product portfolio, e.g. the Quality Cockpit as a key performance indicator system for controlling processes with a focus on minimizing risks, play a supporting role here.