Quality objectives: what are they and how do you make them?

magnifying glass on analytical paperwork

Quality objectives: what are they and how do you make them?

If you own or manage a business, you probably have standards in place to ensure you reach your business goals. For example, an e-commerce store might aim for 100% on-time delivery for their customers. A manufacturer might aim to reduce production defects by 10% within the financial year.

These goals are what we call “quality objectives”. According to ISO 9001, quality objectives are measurable goals aimed at enhancing customer satisfaction. These objectives are often set out when a business owner is creating their quality management system (QMS).

Once you have decided on your business objectives, you will need to decide when and how these objectives will be achieved, what resources you need to achieve them, who is responsible, and how results will be measured, all while remaining consistent with your QMS.

From your quality objectives, you can make actionable plans to improve your business for the better and meet the demands of your QMS. The question is, how do you determine quality objectives? What is considered a “good” quality objective?

In this blog, we take a deeper dive into quality objectives and provide examples to help guide you through the process.

How to set quality objectives

team figuring out quality objectives around a table

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One of the most efficient ways to set quality objectives is to talk to people from each of the relevant departments within your business. Each individual will have a unique perspective and will be able to set realistic targets as well as plan how to reach these targets.

The most common quality objectives include:

  • Reduced defects: Send out fewer than X percent of products with a defect
  • Improved performance: Increase product performance to X hours of use
  • Improved efficiency: Improve operational efficiency by X percent
  • Improved safety: Have zero safety incidents in the workplace or zero product recalls
  • More consistent deliveries: Achieve X percent of on-time deliveries
  • Maintain good customer service: Maintain a customer satisfaction rate of X percent

Before going ahead and picking “option A” out of the list, it’s important to put some thought into your quality objectives and consider the following:

  • Objectives can apply to individual activities, specific sites, or entire organisations
  • Objectives must align with the principles in your QMS or quality policy
  • The scope and number of objectives must be realistic otherwise the success and commitment of team members will diminish
  • Legal and compliance requirements are paramount, as are significant hazards and views of stakeholders or interested parties
  • Financial, operational and business requirements must also be considered
  • Objectives must be based on sound information

You must also consider what key performance indicators (KPIs) you will use to measure the progress of your quality objectives. Ask yourself: how will we know if and when we’ve reached our goals?

Some example KPIs include:

  • The quantity of raw material or energy used
  • The amount of waste produced
  • The number of incidents/accidents
  • The percentage of waste recycled
  • Investment in environmental protection

It seems like a lot to think about – and it is. However, it’s crucial to consider these elements when setting out objectives otherwise you might end up with unachievable goals that never go anywhere. Here’s a measurable quality objectives example from ISO 9001 UK:

“Suppose your organisation establishes a target to reduce its non-hazardous waste by 40% and the KPI you choose is the total tonnage of waste produced each year (tonnes/year). If your organisation triples its production of units and reduces the amount of waste by 50% per product unit, the KPI of tonnes per year does not show the reduction.”

“In this case, the better KPI would have been the weight amount of waste per product unit (Kg per unit).”

An easy way to determine if your goals are achievable is to think “SMART” i.e. consider whether your goals are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely.

smart goals

Image: Crawford Thomas Recruiting

Quality objective templates

Creating a table or document outlining the new objectives will help all parties involved a) keep track of progress and b) keep track of who is in charge of certain activities. For example, see the quality objective template below.

quality objectives example

Image: Research Gate

In this table, you can see each of the policies from the business’s QMS, what the quality objectives are, what the KPIs are for each of the objectives, timelines, a roster of responsibilities, and finally the goal of the objectives. This is a simple and effective way to document quality objectives as you strive to reach them.

For a more in-depth template, consider the following headings:

  • Policy
  • Quality Objective
  • Goal
  • Timeline Goal
  • Present Level
  • Target Level
  • Who’s Responsible
  • Implementation Completed? Y/N

It would also be worth having a separate section or document for review meetings to discuss progress. Consider creating a document with the following headings:

  • Previous Measurements
  • Current Measurements
  • Tracking & Improvements

How BusinessBasics can help

business people smiling at each other

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At BusinessBasics, we can help with the simplification and implementation of your quality management system (QMS). From this QMS, we can help define your quality objectives and ensure you have the skills and training to achieve them.

We’ll ensure your business is ISO 9001 compliant, regularly review your QMS for improvements and gaps, and train your team on how to use the QMS to achieve compliance and business goals.

You don’t need to tackle your QMS and quality objectives alone. Allow us to make the process simple and effective, so you can spend more time focusing on the important things. Get in touch for more information today.