The Future of the Quality Manual
What is to become of the ISO quality manual with quality control issues so prominent in manufacturing? At one time, the manual was so important that manufacturers would never be without one. ISO 9001:2015, however, brings about new changes that will make experts rethink how they approach quality control.
How have manufacturers departed from traditional ISO standards?
The new ISO 9001:2015 revision does not require a quality manual, though many companies are likely to still maintain one. Although this may seem like a drastic change for many, some manufacturers have moved away from traditional ISO standards. Many quality control professionals believe a manual interpreting new standards is quite capable of completing the job at hand, which provides an option adaptable to individual company needs.
Using a more creative approach to outlining ISO standards is one way companies can tailor the manual to their needs. A manufacturer can use a manual in a way that makes sense to their clients while simplifying things for the quality team. One effect will be a streamlined process that is more efficient, adaptable, and likely to lead to better engagement.
Why aren’t quality manuals needed anymore?
Even though a quality manual helps guide businesses through the process, many in their respective industries have found the updates to the manuals bothersome. Another problem associated with the manuals is that many meet the requirements of the standard on paper, but still fail to meet their stated purpose. Environmental concerns have also been raised with some manuals topping out at well over 50 pages of paper.
And length isn’t just an environmental problem. Often, these bulky manuals aren’t read or readers merely skim the content. Even though these are legitimate needs, there is still a use for some type of a manual. A simplified version of what had been required under previous versions can help fill the needs of companies discerning the best way to meet quality standards with as little extra work as possible.
What some quality control professionals say about manual relevancy
Few people read the manuals thoroughly besides auditors. They see the overwhelming number of pages and wonder if the authors are promoting quantity over quality. These auditors feel that the manuals need to be written with greater readability in mind to help keep them relevant and ensure they meet their intended purpose.
Organizations need to find that careful balance between regular updates and keeping the content fresh. Although nobody wants to read a quality manual that is outdated, avoiding extra information without a clear purpose also needs to be considered.
Another point that quality control professionals often voice is duplicated or unnecessary content that adds to the bulk of the manuals, which reduced the likelihood that the quality manual’s intended audience will read it. A manual that offers quality content provides more value and is more likely to fulfill its intended purpose, making the quality control process easy for those involved and keeping satisfaction levels high.
Changes in the ISO standard always require some adjustment for the companies impacted like the quality manual. However, organizations that are acutely aware of what customers expect from them are likely to have a fairly easy transition. If a company is dedicated to providing quality regardless of the circumstances, they will be very able to meet the challenges that they face.