Feedback on Quality Objectives

Funboi

On Holiday
Chanting "SMART!" over and over again isn't helping . . . or making a good case for the use of it. I think the objectives are SMART, perhaps a less specific "S" than some of you would like. Is it the "M", are qualitative "M"s not allowed?
Have you worked through your two statements (I agree with Bev that they are aspirational, mission type statement) and applied a measurement to them? How will you know when you’ve achieved the goal?
Acme widgets will engage in activity it considers likely to decrease risk and increase efficiency from year to year
Leaving out that “efficiency” isn’t a Quality objective, “risk” applies to what in the QMS? Let’s not overlook that its a very broad category which includes safety, environmental, financial, quality, etc. It’s unclear you are talking about product, which is what ISO 9001 is directing you towards. Bearing in mind that even a one person company has many processes, what risk are you going to reduce? While you may wish to reduce the risk of losing business by not promptly responding to a customer rfq, you may be increasing the risk of rushing a job out to meet a deadline which is bearing down. How will you reconcile that?

If you like to reference ISO 31000, a definition of risk is “the effect of uncertainty on objectives”. If you substitute this definition, you still come away with the need to state objectives! Otherwise it‘s nonsensical.
 
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imwilliam

Involved In Discussions
Have you worked through your two statements (I agree with Bev that they are aspirational, mission type statement) and applied a measurement to them? How will you know when you’ve achieved the goal?

Leaving out that “efficiency” isn’t a Quality objective, “risk” applies to what in the QMS? Let’s not overlook that its a very broad category which includes safety, environmental, financial, quality, etc. It’s unclear you are talking about product, which is what ISO 9001 is directing you towards. Bearing in mind that even a one person company has many processes, what risk are you going to reduce? While you may wish to reduce the risk of losing business by not promptly responding to a customer rfq, you may be increasing the risk of rushing a job out to meet a deadline which is bearing down. How will you reconcile that?

If you like to reference ISO 31000, a definition of risk is “the effect of uncertainty on objectives”. If you substitute this definition, you still come away with the need to state objectives! Otherwise it‘s nonsensical.

Yes, let's work through them.

Acme widgets will engage in activity it considers likely to decrease risk and increase efficiency from year to year

Acme widgets will engage in activity it considers likely to increase competence from year to year.

The objective isn't to increase competence or to decrease risk or increase efficiency, not directly anyway.

The objective is to engage in activity . . . activity Acme believes is likely to increase competence, decrease risk or increase efficiency.

Acme's belief that an activity will increase competence, decrease risk or increase efficiency is the criteria for choosing the activity, not the objective

Engaging in the activity is the objective. Did Acme engage in activity that met the criteria? Answerable with a "Yes" or No, which makes the objectives qualitatively measurable.

Who says " increasing efficiency" isn't a quality objective? That makes absolutely no sense to me. It certainly is relevant to enhancement of customer satisfaction; it could affect price and on-time delivery for example.

Because risk here is contained within a quality objective, the activity that Acme believes will decrease risk will have to decrease risk in some way "relevant to the conformity of products or services and to the enhancement of customer satisfaction" but that evaluation will occur while choosing the specific activities. I see no benefit to painting myself into a corner here at the level of these top-level objectives, unless I have to.

I have to use ISO 9001's definitions to interpret what's written in ISO 9001, not in what I write. Steve asked me how I defined "risk" back on the first page, and I defined it as follows:

Risk I'd define as exposure to bad outcomes, non-conformance, if you like. If I'm shutting down opportunities for non-conformity to occur, I'm decreasing risk. So, have the activities referenced in the objective shut down opportunities for non-conformity? If the answer is yes than I'd say they've decreased risk.

I also went over definitions for competency and efficiency at that point.

Thanks Fun
 

Funboi

On Holiday
Can I ask why you don’t want to adopt basic, “on time, in specification” objectives? They are found suitable for complex, sophisticated business operations, so why not adopt them?
May I also ask, how you will reconcile competing risks/objectives, as I had posted previously? What criteria will you be using to treat the various risks encountered? What is your risk treatment strategy Or plan? Which risks will you accept? Which will you avoid? Will you off-load or share risks. Risk mitigation?
 

Bev D

Heretical Statistician
Leader
Super Moderator
Risk is a complex word - it’s cruelly a vector. Risk - something bad might happen. So risk involves two things probability and effect. It is alwasy advisable to be clear what we mean by risk.

I do see ‘risk’ as inherently part of quality which is why FMEA is such a big thing in development activities. We determine potential failures and reduce the probability of their occurrence. It is the Preventive part of Quality.

I also think that your two objective statements are OK but at some point as your organization grows you will be confronted with situations that will require corrective actions such as reducing warranty costs by reducing the defects that cause warranty as part of your profit improvement needs. This will require SMART type goals. This will of course require alignment of ‘competing’ needs. You might find this thread regarding On time Delivery as a Quality Goal helpful in your overall thinking…
 

imwilliam

Involved In Discussions
Can I ask why you don’t want to adopt basic, “on time, in specification” objectives? They are found suitable for complex, sophisticated business operations, so why not adopt them?
May I also ask, how you will reconcile competing risks/objectives, as I had posted previously? What criteria will you be using to treat the various risks encountered? What is your risk treatment strategy Or plan? Which risks will you accept? Which will you avoid? Will you off-load or share risks. Risk mitigation?

Hey Fun,

On time and no escapes were my first choice, but among other issues, there isn't much room for real world improvement there. My understanding is that objectives should be about improvement, I didn't think a goal to maintain position was an option. The size of the data sets here was another issue.

Risk here is dealt with informally and with common sense. If I had someone working for me that evaluated and made decisions involving significant risk, I would probably want to constrain them, but I don't.

Thanks Fun
 

Funboi

On Holiday
On time and no escapes were my first choice, but among other issues, there isn't much room for real world improvement there
I’d agree, IF you applied it “bookend” fashion to the business. The improvement might come, however, internally. For example, how many customer requests for quotes do you touch twice? Do you always get them out to the customers expectation or when you say you will and is that acceptable? How do you solicit feedback?When processing product, how often do you find something when you have to do further processing that you planned?
 

imwilliam

Involved In Discussions
I’d agree, IF you applied it “bookend” fashion to the business. The improvement might come, however, internally. For example, how many customer requests for quotes do you touch twice? Do you always get them out to the customers expectation or when you say you will and is that acceptable? How do you solicit feedback?When processing product, how often do you find something when you have to do further processing that you planned?

I don't see why anything you've listed above couldn't be addressed thru the objectives I've put forward here. Honestly, I think the line from my objectives to any of the examples you've given is more direct than the line from an on time or to spec objective.
 

Pau Calvo

Involved In Discussions
imwilliam, I would like to share my point of view regarding your quality objectives.

I agree in what your objectives aim for, but not how you have expressed it, because it lacks a proper limits and goals.

My experience is that data in context is better that all the words in the world; If you aim to evaluate your efficiency and risk, first you need to add a value to it, to compare to a standard, it could be your own standard of course, then you can understand if you are over or below and then create actions to improve or correct them. You have several tools to evaluate efficiency and risk and get an evaluable number.

Quality objectives, in my understanding, aim to evaluate the performance of your system in order to do so must be SMART.
SMART. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relative and Time Bound.

Having that in mind you could evaluate with a risk assessment tool, your actual risk and create appropriate limits and set an objective that you could keep tracking and evaluating every year.
This can be done for each of your proposals of Quality Objectives.

In my opinion it could be a lot of work for one person company, it may be wise to reevaluate your objectives and look for ones that are easier to evaluate and have a meaningful impact in your business.

Remember that if you cannot keep these objectives under tracking, they won't bring any value to you and therefore won't be SMART.

Sorry for my English, it's not my main language, I hope I could help you
 

Bev D

Heretical Statistician
Leader
Super Moderator
...Again, it’s a small shop, many common data sets are likewise small and that limits the value of statistical evaluation and therefore some of the value inherent in quantitative measurements.

Appreciate any thoughts or suggestions you might have.
Small data sets do not preclude effective quantitative analysis. Can you elaborate on what you think is a constraint?

I also think you've received some really good feedback here as requested. The common approach to quality objectives is to be specific and where improvement is involved SMART. There is no requirement that your quality objectives be improvement related; they can be 'maintenance' of current levels (adverse events happen and preventive action is the ideal) What you will encounter is that your approach will likely face the same type of questions from an auditor. That doesn't mean the auditor is right, but uncommon approaches tend to attract more questions...One 'red flag' with these types of 'qualitative' objectives is that some organizations use them to simply check the box and not challenge their organization to more than minimal compliance rather than challenging them to real quality excellence. Hopefully our questions have provided you with enough impetus to self reflect and have prepared you for any future questions...
 
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