ISO 9001:2015 Management Review Guide

This article will be a step by step guide through the ISO 9001:2015 standard, with some how-to instructions so that you can have the opportunity to work through the standard & hopefully I can help you.

We're going to start where I think we should start: in the context of ISO 9001, and it's not clause number one but down in management review.

What is ISO 9001? Ultimately ISO 9001 is about delivering promises that you've made to your customers & marketplace. We're making promises to our clients, we've got this hungry crowd and we've got a solution for the marketplace. A quality management system is about the consistency, integrity and delivering promises. It's about uplifting and creating amazing experiences for your customers and for me, the place to start in the standard is in management review. I've got the standard open here and we're just going to go through clause by clause, but this article is all about management review.

In the old standard ISO 9001:2008, Management Review is under clause 5.6, but now in the new standard it has been moved down to clause 9.3. With the restructuring of the standard we're calling it Annex SL; all the international standards have the same flow, with management review typically placed at the bottom. I'd actually challenge that in the marketplace. Ultimately, we get together and we come up with a strategy, founders of businesses have this idea that there's this very hungry crowd in the marketplace who want a particular product or service and then we start with the business.

We will start at 9.3. I think the most important part of any business is the time that you take to review your strategy. The bigger businesses that are publicly listed, have board meetings and smaller businesses might be just sitting around on a Friday afternoon scratching their head going "I don't know how I'm going to fix this". This clause talks about top management reviewing the organization's quality management system. It talks about planned intervals and making sure that things continue to be suitable, adequate, effective, and aligned with the strategic direction of the organization.

What we want to work out "Is what we're doing, the way that we give instructions to people in the business, the system, is that helping us? Is it aligning with our strategic direction?"

You might be starting to change into a different suite of services, you might be going more online, you might be going more customer service driven, you might be less of your own products and more of someone else's, so the intent of this clause is actually to take that time to say "well, what were our goals? What was it that we wanted to do?" Now you might not have written all of the bullet points down in your business plan, you might have just had the ideas in your head but are you actually going in that direction? When we want to strategically address this clause it's very much a sit-down look at the performance of the business.

You want to provide evidence or a record of actions whether it's a set of meeting minutes, scribbles all over some performance report, graphs, data statistics or a folder with a bunch of spreadsheets. That's the type of evidence that we're looking for and that's what you're going to create; it's showing evidence that you know you're getting externally assessed, that you've actually stopped and looked at the performance of the business and then made some real fact-based decisions in terms of the direction for you to go forward.

We've got 9.3.1 general, and then we've got 9.3.2 management review inputs. We're talking about actions from previous management reviews, now remembering at this point in time we're coming off the back of every formal management reviews that were meeting minutes based, so following that very formal theme the first part of the standard says, "Don't forget about your previous set of meeting minutes".

Changes in external and internal issues and information on performance and effectiveness are relevant to the quality management system. Make sure you include customer satisfaction and any feedback from external interested parties, the extent to which your goals were met, the process performance and conformity to your systems, products and services, non-conformities and corrective actions, monitoring and measurement results, and audit the results and performance of external providers.

Now that's your spreadsheet, this can help you understand and get your trends analysis, which is a benefit of ISO 9001. We then look at the adequacy of resources, the effectiveness of actions taken to address risks and opportunities for improvement. It's really that strategic view and what I'd like you to think about when you're taking this content and you're working out what your direction forward is the strategic review of the whole of the organization. All you need to think about is your external certification company, register, accreditation body, or your company. Then you just tell them to certify one part of the business and not the other, but you use this for the full; this is the guideline for this full strategic review of the business.

I want to share with you the last part of the standard and I'm going to tell you about how I do it in my business, here at Best Practice. Section 9.3.3 talks about outputs of management review on what to include; it's about decisions and then actions. What actions or what tactics are you going to implement to actually take you forward? Because what's going to happen in the next management review is you're going to say, "well how do we go with those actions?" The decisions, actions, and tactics relate to the opportunities that improve the business.

The fundamental priority there is on customer satisfaction, how can you enhance your delivery? How can you improve the experience for your customers? How can you uplift it? What they're feeling and what they're enjoying is your service. It says here on the standard, "changes to the quality management system". If you make changes to the way you operate, then you have to think about resource needs. When thinking about budgets, you're thinking about the staff and raw materials suppliers and all those sorts of things, because they're all part of the resource needs, and ultimately the organization shall retain a documented information as evidence which are these management reviews.

Best Practice uses a quarterly strategic review system, and if you've had a look at our YouTube channel, you'll see strategic reviews and how we do that. You'll see us all in a meeting and me talking to the camera, but ultimately what we do is we set a date and time on a quarterly basis and its locked in.

Now, for Best Practice, I know those dates for the next twelve months. There are four meetings and we start at 8 a.m and finish at 6 p.m on a set date and it's not negotiable. This involves the whole team, it's the executives of Best Practice. Nothing is more important than what we can do to uplift the experience of our customers and what we can do to uplift the business, so we set that, lock it in, planned in a year advanced and we all plan around it. In fact, my next holiday has to finish two days before this next strategy meeting, so I can prepare. So hopefully this gives you a bit of a guide in terms of how committed we are to this process.

Here at Best Practice, we call our major plans "rocks", we set ourselves a plan, we go through those rocks. If you've heard the story about the rocks, sand, pebbles, and water in the jar, that's exactly the analogy that we use. We go through, we set ourselves goals, we set ourselves targets and then set ourselves projects and go every quarter and look at how we went. Part of some of the changes in our business is we're seeing a significant trend to move to an online/social media marketplace which has become absolutely critical for us.

We've made some small changes in our business recently just to test the market, and we saw an incredible response to it. When we get to the effectiveness of actions taken to address risks and opportunities, we've also got an opportunity in the marketplace and so we're looking at how well we're responding to that. You want to make this thing real-life, it's not just about the quality manager sitting down and driving this meeting. It's about the quality manager and the people out there in the marketplace who are the quality managers or coordinators or strategic directors, it's about you being the master of ceremonies to facilitate discussion.

It's not just about tabling the quality report, this is the quality management system, I'd like you to use the terminology and move towards using the terminology of business management system so we can understand how to actually physically implement that.

I recommend you take some time to go through this clause of the standard, it's a really great way to understand how you can move forward and don't start at 1:1 of the scope, I'd like you to start at section 9 management review.

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