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Skip Navigation Links2013 (5) / September 2013: Quality Manual: Good and Poor Practices

Quality Manual: Good and Poor Practices

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Motorola and NASA Smart companies write their high level quality documents in a clear business language and make them publicly available. Here are some examples:
A Quality Manual is the top-level document which establishes the quality policies and objectives for the entire organization. It should be clear, jargon-free, user-friendly, and written in a business language. Let’s review two examples:
“Design and development inputs shall be defined in accordance with the Form QMS - 123. Reviewers shall be drawn from representatives of the functional areas concerned with the design. Reviews shall meet the requirements listed in the section 7.2.2. Review results and resolutions shall be recorded in documents identified in the Form QMS - 425“.
“We regard customer value perceptions as key business drivers that influence product design and development. Once customer value perceptions are identified, we convert these into product characteristics. Reviews of product characteristics are performed by our senior technical analysts in accordance with process requirements”
The first example talks about “design and development inputs” which is a quality specific term while the second example uses business language to talk about “customer value perceptions”. A statement “representatives of the functional areas concerned with the design” from the first example is a vague one in comparison to “our senior technical analysts” statement from the second example.
The first example includes cross-references, such as “listed in the section 7.2.2.” and “in accordance with the Form QMS - 425”. Contrary, the second example can be perceived as a more user friendly one because it I written as a stand-alone piece of information.
In summary, here are four simple rules to create an effective and powerful Quality Manual:
  1. Use business language free from jargons and technical terms.
  2. Be clear, concise, and specific.
  3. Focus on business success and organizational value.
  4. Keep the Manual as a stand-alone document. Relevant references can be provided in a separate section.
Please share with us your thoughts and example of good and poor Quality Manual statements that you observed.
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