Quality Manual Template ~ Everything You Need to Know [ISO 9001]

quality manual template ISO 9001 stamp  
  • All the Documents & Tools you need to achieve certification
  • Proven to Work by industry leaders since 2002
  • Not just a Quality Manual - includes: Quality Policy & Quality Objectives, Context of our organization, Leadership & Worker Participation, Planning, Support, Product & Service Development, Performance Evaluation, Improvement
  • Project Plan & Implementation Checklist
  • Gap Analysis Checklist, Action Plan
  • 18 Procedures
  • 40 Process Maps, Turtle Diagrams, Matrices
  • 52 Reports & Forms
  • Internal Audit Checklist
  • Internal Audit, Non-Conforming & Corrective Action Tracker
  • Designed for all users, from the novices to experts, we explain everything, step-by-step, clause-by-clause 

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Quality Manual Template

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Quality Manual Template
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QMS Template with Tools
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  • Immediate download
  • Written in International English
  • Fully-editable MS Word or Excel files
  • All documents use styles

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Used by organizations around the world, our templates have been successfully audited and certified by Registrars & Certification Bodies such as: UKAS, DNV, Lloyds Register, BSI, DNV, BM Trada, LRQA as well as hundreds of independent external auditors.

 

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Benefits of Getting ISO Certification

It may seem that the task is daunting, however, data has shown that companies have greatly benefited from getting ISO certified.

Customer Satisfaction

To satisfy a customer’s needs, the company must first identify their market and its needs. By having insight regarding the needs of their market, companies are able to continuously deliver products and services that fulfill the needs of their customers.

Integration Of Internal Policies And Procedures

Collating all Quality Managements System (QMS) documents and having them certified as ISO compliant helps to streamline the company’s internal processes and procedures. It also helps to interface with other external ISO certified companies.

Improved Company Image And Reputation

Getting or even attempting to get ISO 9001:2015 certification is no easy feat. As mentioned earlier, having this certification puts a company in the ranks of other companies from around the world that follow the same quality standards.

Company Culture That Is Aimed Towards Continuous Improvement

Businesses that comply with ISO 9001:2015 have procedures that strive to improve products and services; it also aims to promote the professional development of its employees and the company culture.

Opportunities For Partnerships & New Contracts

Because getting ISO-certified impels that you meet international standards of practice, there are many companies that make ISO certification a requirement to become an accredited partner or supplier of their organization.

Without ISO 9001 often you would not even be able to bid for a contract.

 

Benefits of Using a Template For Your QMS

Quality Manual Templates are widely available for any and every business that may want a helping hand in getting their system up and running. You may feel that templates are not for you and will not fit your organization — but your really should consider them, they bring plenty of benefits.

Sets Out Scope of Project

Sets expectations of documentation for both Top Management and scope of work for the Project Manager and employees. Top Management will be expected to provide the resources necessary to cover any processes within their departments, as well as planning and assigning responsibilities for ISO certification.

Faster Start

In the beginning, there is a lot of time and attention required in learning all that goes into a QMS. Generally, it takes more than one person to research and figure out what is required of your business and how to get everything started. Using a template gives you a fantastic starting point, allowing you to jump right into the process rather than spending time worrying about how to go about it.

Pick and Choose

When it comes to implementing ISO, there are requirements which apply to your business and some which do not. Having a template that already spells out the requirements for you will make it that much easier to take away the ones that don't apply.

Save Time

Documenting your QMS can be a long process that requires a lot of time from any business. Smaller businesses don't always have a lot of extra time as they have fewer employees to dedicate solely to the implementation process. Using templates can jump-start the process and save you a lot of time in putting everything together on your own.

Cost-Effective

Using templates to set up a management system can save you time but also money. Using fewer hours at the start is a great way to cut costs.

On top of that, you won't have to hire an outside consultant to make sure you are doing everything correctly. Figuring out your QMS in-house is a cheaper option, and a template makes that process faster and easier to get through.

Lower Work Load

Not every business may have the same resources and kind of manpower that a large scale company boasts. Every employee is crucial to the success of the business and has their own part of everything to focus on. When you use a quality manual template, it takes away some of the load that might be placed on your employees. By already having a framework in place, there is less work for everyone to do.

Steady Foundation

In the beginning, implementing a QMS can feel like too big of a change to wrap your mind around. This is a big concern for businesses that don't want to rock the boat too hard and risk it capsizing.

Using a template gives you a solid foundation to start building that change on. You don't have to worry so much that everything will topple over when you know what you are building on is already proven to work.

Consistency

For any business, consistency is key. A template helps to prevent anything from getting out of line by giving you a foundation for everything within your system.

Having this foundation means that no matter who is involved in the management system will follow the same approach. You don't have to worry about everyone doing things their own way when they have a guide to follow.

Although it seems complicated to create the documentation at first, it is quite straightforward to do with the right template in hand.

 

Used by Thousands of Companies Worldwide

Written in International English, bought by small businesses, big brands and individuals our templates have been sold online and CD since 2002.

Used by:

The Templates are used by first timers following our step-by-step, clause-by-clause guidance documents; and experienced Quality Managers wishing to streamline and improve their existing documentation.

 

Everything You Need To Achieve ISO 9001 Certification

ISO 9001 Quality Manual Template Stamp

Whether this is your very first ISO implementation or you are transitioning from an earlier version, our fully-editable, comprehensive quality manual templates contain the procedures, forms, reports, process maps, audit checklists, and more that you need to achieve certification.

Simply put, this is the only tool you need for all things ISO 9001.

We understand that some companies don't mind shelling out thousands of dollars to consultants to set up their management systems. However, we care about companies like yours that want to bootstrap the process as much as possible.

But all too often, saving money by staying in-house ends up costing much more time – a resource that you never want to waste.

Sure, you could spend hours scouring the web to piecemeal together everything you need for your ISO 9001 implementation. Ultimately, you may get the desired results for your business.

But what if instead, you decided to work smarter, not harder? Instead of spending top dollar on expensive consultants or wasting time doing it yourself, why not get the help you need from us? Using the same all-inclusive quality manual template that small businesses and large corporations have been using since 2002 to get the job done right.

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We are 100% confident in the quality and contents of our products. Used by thousands of organizations around the world, our templates have been sold online since 2002.

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Which Template Is Right For Me?


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Five Reasons To Choose Our Templates

Do you want to cut down on the costs of ISO implementation while saving time?
Are you looking for precise, accurate, and universal tools and templates to use for your ISO 9001 project?

Then you've come to the right place.

We understand what you are looking for and have the answers to your ISO certification needs. We've developed a seamless ISO 9001 template that gives you exactly what you need to get your quality management system started on the right footing.

  1. Our customizable templates save you time and money by offering a streamlined process to create your documentation
  2. They’ve got everything you need in one simple download
  3. Our templates have helped thousands of businesses big and small achieve certification
  4. All documents use styles to make reformatting and rebranding a breeze
  5. You can use our templates for any industry or sector. The application of our templates is scalable and generic; regardless of the size and type of organization

 

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More Than Just Templates, Complete Guides As Well

Our ISO 9001:2015 Quality Manual Templates contain everything you need to create your own quality manual, document your QMS and get the certification you desire. However, to take it one step further, we also offer:

as well as a detailed Project Plan and Implementation Checklist — so you can see exactly what you need to do and when to achieve compliance.

ISO 9001 Project Plan Sample

These 127 pages of easy to implement, step-by-step guidance take all the guesswork out of completing ISO 9001 so that you can get down to business as efficiently and effectively as possible.

 

Take A Look Inside — Files & PDF Samples

Immediate download after payment.

The download file is a .ZIP file.

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Double-click on the .ZIP file to unzip the contents of the Template.

 

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A new folder is created, with the files unzipped.

 

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Documents are sorted into folders.

 

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View a sample of the Project Plan.

View a sample of the Step 1 - Implementation Checklist - Assign Resources and Budget.

 

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View a sample of the Gap Analysis Action Plan.

View a sample of the Gap Analysis Checklist.

 

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View a sample of the Quality Manual.

 

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View a sample of the Internal Audit Procedure.

Process Maps are located inside the procedures. View a sample of the Internal Audit Process Map.

 

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View a sample of the Internal Audit Report.

 

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View a sample of the Internal Audit Checklist.

View a sample of the Internal Audit, NC & CA Tracker.

 

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View a sample of the Clause-by-clause Interpretation.

View a sample of the Internal Audit Guidance.

 

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ISO 9001 Quality Manual ~ Everything You Need to Know


What is a Quality Manual?

A quality manual documents and communicates your organization’s quality management system (QMS). The quality manual also demonstrates an organisation’s commitment to determining and fulfilling customer requirements and for meeting customer expectations.

The purpose of any quality manual is to describe the boundaries of the quality management system, via the management system’s scope, the applicability of ISO clauses, internal process definition and the quality policy.

The quality manual also communicates the structure of the QMS's documentation hierarchy, the organizational reporting structure and other information flows. The idea is that confidence in a business’s products, or services can be communicated and acquired by prospective customers through the use of an approved quality manual.

The quality manual is usually one of the first, high-level documents of a multi-tiered structure that is created or revised when establishing or updating a quality management system and can be used as a mission-statement for your organization.

More specifically, a quality manual includes information about your organization’s strategic direction its goals, its mission, and policies, and as a useful induction tool for new staff and as a road map for how the QMS operates. The manual also includes requirements needed for the organization to be compliant with the ISO 9001 standard.

quality management folder

Is A Quality Manual Required For ISO 9001 QMS Documentation?

Some organizations are faced with the question of whether or not it’s worth trying to develop such a seemingly complicated document for their business. This is because a quality manual is not a requirement of ISO 9001 and is therefore, not a mandatory document.

However, many mature organizations with existing ISO 9001 certification or those currently working towards certification often prefer to retain and update their existing quality systems.

Learn more about the ISO 9001 requirements and mandatory documents.

The quality manual demonstrates management’s accountability for the QMS and for determining and fulfilling customer requirements, it communicates the structure of the QMS to employees, business partners, and stakeholders, as well as keeping the QMS in-line with ISO 9001 standards.

What are the Benefits Of A Manual?

The quality manual provides a wide range of benefits for organizations. Not only is it organized and easy to follow, but it also covers almost everything you and your employees will need to know about the ISO 9001 standard and what is expected of your quality management system.

Some of the other benefits the manual offers organizations includes:

  • Improved quality management systems
  • Easier transition to ISO 9001 operations
  • Easier adjustment to updated ISO 9001 standards
  • Guidance in increasing efficiency and improving processes

How Is The Quality Manual Useful?

The manual is primarily used as a source of information regarding your quality management system and ISO certification. However, it also provides the following information:

  • Sets expectations for both management and employees
  • States the purpose of the organization and its quality policy, objectives, and the scope
  • Guidance on having clear and concise communication throughout the organization’s documents and between departments
  • Becomes the top-level document in the documentation structure and leads to the next level documents
  • A system manual may be useful to employees if it describes how their organization works as a system, and how the system is monitored, reviewed and improved
  • Captures the various processes and interactions which gives a bird's eye view to the user about the organization
  • Provides company context for internal, customer, and ISO certification body auditors new to the organization
  • Demonstrates the organization’s plan to conform to the latest ISO 9001 standard
  • Demonstrates ISO 9001’s Clause 5.3 in that all organizational roles, responsibilities, and authorities have been assigned, communicated, and understood
  • Serves as a form of evidence for auditors — those doing certification audits, the lead auditor and internal auditor(s)

Does It Matter How Long The Quality Manual Is?

No, it does not matter how long your quality manual is. However, you don’t want to overwhelm your readers with a too much detail and extraneous information but you also want to ensure that all of the applicable requirements are described and the clauses covered without confusion.

We've prepared 10-page quality manuals and other manuals with more than 150 pages that included all the documented procedures and forms. Each version of the quality manual was certified, along with QMS, because it met the requirements - not because they were a certain page length.

A well written quality manual acts as an interface between the standard, which is generic, and the requirements that are deployed by your business’s management system. It conveys how the quality management system works and what controls are in place to manage each process. Therefore, the size, context and complexity of your organization and extent of its individual processes will heavily influence the volume of content in the quality manual.

PRO TIP! You need to write the quality manual so that the intended audience will use it. The primary audience should never be the External Auditor. A good quality manual document is one that has a clear purpose (is it easy to follow?) and is one that has a targeted audience (is it useful for stakeholders?), and is then written and designed to meet contextual expectations.

My Boss Wants a 4 Page Quality Manual — What Should I Do?

Manage expectations — most organizations prepare a quality manual that covers the requirements of the international standard, includes or makes reference to the necessary operational procedures and outlines of the basic requirements as they relate to your business’s operations. It would be difficult address all the requirements in 3 or 4 pages.

Most quality manuals are typically 30 or 40 pages in length. Our quality manual template addresses each quality requirement in 37 pages of text, while the quality procedures (supplied as separate documents) carry the burden of defining how compliance is achieved at an operational level.

The quality management system information could even be included in other business documents such as an Operations Manual, Company Guidance document, or a Business Systems Manual, just don't forget to reference the process maps, quality procedures, forms and work instructions in whatever you use as a ‘quality manual’.

The key is to decide who needs to read the quality manual and write the content for them. Most internal auditors, regulatory bodies, suppliers, employees and customers who are likely read your quality manual will know what they are looking for. To add value, you need to decide what is useful to your organisation in meeting your unique needs and in your unique context.

We would recommend going for a quality manual that generally addresses each section of the standard, but if you think a 3-to-4-page summary document with links to the lower-level procedures and forms will fulfil your organisation’s needs, then go for it! You should ideally include an appendix in the form of a matrix that shows how the sections of your quality manual align with the standard’s clauses.

PRO TIP! Ask your business partners, suppliers and customers for a PDF copy of their quality manual if they are ISO 9001 certified. It might be useful to go through these with your colleagues (Boss / Top Management) — particularly those new to ISO 9001. It will help inform and manage their expectations, while providing a benchmark for your industry.

Should I Number the Headings of the Quality Manual to Match ISO 9001?

If your External Auditor has stated there is a requirement to number the quality manual’s headings to the ISO 9001 clause numbers, ask them to show you the requirement in the standard, it is not a requirement but simply a recommendation.

People often argue that you should create the quality manual based on your operations, not on the numbering system of the standard. While linking the quality manual to the clause numbers acts as a useful cross-reference in the early stages of implementing ISO 9001, doing so might create a bit more work when the standard itself is revised.

PRO TIP! Though this extra work helps you to look more closely at the clauses of the standard, making sure you did not miss anything, keeping such references can be helpful for an External Auditor and new employees but it might also be helpful for management too!

As such, the heading titles and numbering used in our quality manual template relate to the standard for ease of reference.

Quality Manual Examples - QMS Manual

We recommend to clients they gather and review a number of relevant quality manuals before starting their documentation.

1. Ask your business partners, suppliers and customers for a PDF copy of their business quality manual.

2. Download a sample of our Quality Manual Example PDF.

3. Search online.

There are many quality manual examples available online - some good, some poor... so you need to be careful and use your best judgement. Here are some TIPS:

  • Search for a PDF (after the search term, type filetype:pdf)
  • Search for a top competitors' quality manual, or a Top 10 company in your industry. E.G. 'Siemens ISO 9001 quality manual filetype:pdf'
  • Search terms such as 'ISO manual', 'ISO quality manual', 'ISO 9001 Manual', 'ISO 9001 quality manual', 'quality systems manual', 'quality management manual'
  • Check the URL, make sure the PDF is coming from their website and not some kind of 3rd-party upload site (could be fake)
  • Check the date - look for quality manuals written in the past year or so (and certainly not the 'old' 2008 version!)
  • Ensure the quality manual has passed ISO 9001 certification. How do I check if a company is ISO 9001 certified
  • Try to look for 'long' and 'short' examples if you can

ISO 9001 building blocks

Quality Manual Template

Although ISO 9001 business quality manuals and QMS documentation are unique to each organization, they all follow the same ISO requirements — thus a template is ideal. Some of the more common ISO templates include:

  • Quality Manual
    • Policy statement
    • Objectives
    • Introduction & Scope
    • Quality Management Principles
    • References and Definitions
    • Context of the Organization
    • Leadership
    • Management System Planning
    • Support
    • Operation
    • Performance Evaluation
    • Improvement
    • Appendices
  • Documented Procedures
    • Preventive Actions
    • Corrective Actions
    • Control of Non-conforming Products
    • Control of Documents
    • Control of Records
    • Internal Audit
    • Other Operational Procedures
  • Process Maps
  • Reports
  • Forms
  • SWAT and PESTLE analysis

Many online QMS Templates and ISO 9001 Toolkits include other useful tools for ISO certification, such as Internal Audit tools, a Gap Analysis tool, Project Plan etc. these are invaluable for first time implementation of your QMS; they will help you write your documentation in a more structured way.

5 More Reasons to Use a Quality Management System Template

How Can a QMS Template Help My Small Business?

What Should Be Included In A Quality Manual?

The ISO 9001 standard and requirements are very clear for QMS documentation. It is therefore easier for all involved (internal and external — such as business partners, suppliers, as well as ISO auditors) if the quality manual’s table of contents is similar to or mirrors the requirements. As such, we recommend:

Quality Manual Contents

The quality manual must consist of:

  • Introduction & Scope
  • Quality Management Principles
  • References and Definitions
  • Context of the Organization
  • Leadership
  • Management System Planning
  • Support
  • Operation
  • Performance Evaluation
  • Improvement
  • Appendices

What About Different Industries or Businesses?

The quality manual contents will be the same, no matter what industry you're in. If you're a small one-man engineering business or a large manufacturing, ISO 9001's requirements are the same; the difference will be in your operating procedures.

  • Is our ISO 9001:2015 quality manual for manufacturers?
    • Yes!
  • What about Pharmaceutical Quality Management System Templates?

Introduction, Scope & Quality Management Principles

The introduction of the quality manual introduces you to both the ISO 9001 standard and the Scope of the manual itself. The quality management principles section will cover the core principles that drive ISO 9001 operations, in addition to your quality management system.

Scope of the Quality Management System

You should include the boundaries of the new quality management system in your quality manual. Mention the types of products or services your organization offers, in addition to the industry you work in.

Learn more about how to write your scope

Also, make sure you mention exclusions for your business, rather than omitting them entirely. Some ISO 9001:2015 requirements, for example, may not apply to your specific organization, such as Clause 8.3 Design and Development.

References And Definitions

This section of the quality manual offers a glossary of terms that will be mentioned throughout the remainder of the manual.

Context Of The Organization

The context of the organization section has a lot of information discussing various types of issues that may arise while implementing or updating the quality systems documentation. This section also features strategies that can help overcome such issues.  

Internal Issues

Internal issues are problems found within the organization itself. Some internal problems can be related to the following:

  • Products
  • Services
  • Planning
  • Leadership
  • Workforce size

A SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threat Analysis) can be performed by an organization in order to get a baseline of where they stand in comparison to where they want to be after implementing the new QMS.
The results from a SWOT analysis also helps provide insight into what an organization’s current internal values are, which can include:

  • Performance
  • Knowledge
  • Culture
  • Competence
  • Strategy
  • Values

External Issues

External issues are problems that exist outside of your organization and can be much more challenging to overcome. External problems are usually associated with requirements that need to be met within your industry, in technology, globalization, and more.

Similar to how SWOT is used for internal issues, a PESTLE analysis (Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal and Environmental Analysis), is used to assess external forces that can affect your organization. The PESTLE analysis can also help businesses understand their target market and improve growth.

Your adopted quality management system should use both the SWAT and PESTLE analysis to continue monitoring potential internal or external conflicts.

Leadership

Leadership is one of the biggest principles expressed by the ISO 9001 standard. This is who is responsible for making sure that the development and implementation of the policies regarding your quality management system are going according to plan.

Top Management are responsible for overseeing and implementing your organization’s new QMS and control of documents. Some of their responsibilities will include directing strategies and providing communication in processes and performance.

They will also need to make sure that resources for ISO implementation are allocated to areas that need more focus on improvement and responsibilities are distributed to the right people or departments.

For example, leadership may need to ensure that the quality manager has all of the necessary resources — such as finances or technology — to initiate processes and complete them successfully.

quality management folder

Leadership in the PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act) Cycle

In the PDCA (plan-do-check-act) cycle, there are four different phases necessary for leaders to go through. These steps are:

  1. Plan - This is when strategies are developed to implement or improve the quality systems. Leaders must make sure that these strategies are followed through.
  2. Do - Leaders must ensure that each step of the developed strategy is performed correctly. It is in this phase where they must check resources and the distribution of tasks to ensure it aligns with QMS needs. They may also monitor improvement, assess risks or problems, or review the outcome of recent QMS changes.
  3. Check - This is essentially a review of everything that was done during the “Do” step. This will include checking the system’s performance, making sure that it is working properly, and changes that have been put in effect. Policies and other documentation will also be under review. 
  4. Act - The final part of the cycle is acting. This phase involves making sure that all changes made for improvement have been put into place, as well as removing any processes or changes that previously provided negative results.

Governance

The governance structure of an organization is also a large part of the quality manual’s leadership chapter. This section of the manual should discuss what the company defines as “proper support” in order to make sure processes are able to complete objectives under the ISO 9001 standards of quality.

The governing leaders of the organization will also be responsible for verifying the system itself, usually through the form of internal audits and reviewing data.

Leaders with this responsibility should look at current trends as well as looking out for risks that the organization should plan to overcome. Most importantly they should continuously monitor the effectiveness of the QMS system in addition to any improvements or success it achieves.

Management System Planning

This next chapter in the quality manual is focused on management system planning. In order to have success in this area, there are a number of features to assess, including internal and external connections, risks/issues, successes, and opportunities that may arise.

The best QMS will consider maintaining a balance between the number of risks versus opportunities available from certain processes. This balance must be managed internally in order to achieve effectiveness.

Risks and opportunities will need to be reviewed in the following contexts:

  • Internal context
  • Stakeholders
  • External context

Risk Evaluation Cycle

The risk evaluation cycle is one way for leaders to assess risks regularly. The cycle includes the following steps:

  • Plan
  • Identify
  • Assess
  • Respond
  • Review
  • Report
  • Monitor
  • Repeat

Following this cycle will help your organization actively recognize problems before they become problems and create proactive strategies to combat them.

Top Management

Top Management is responsible for ensuring that a risk-based style of thinking is implemented within your organization. They are in charge of establishing procedures and planning around risk management and make sure that your organization’s principles are included in your quality management system.

Top Management will also be expected to provide the resources necessary to cover any processes within their departments, as well as planning and assigning responsibilities for ISO certification.

Support

The next chapter that is covered in the quality manual is support. Support can come in many forms, including customer support, financial support, and even human resources. The goal of support is to ensure improvements are made in some of the following areas:

  • Customer satisfaction
  • Employee satisfaction
  • Human resources
  • Financial resources
  • Working area

The biggest area of focus in this section is customer satisfaction, which is critical to any company’s success. Without customer satisfaction, your business risks profit losses in addition to a reduced customer base and market. On the positive side, having good customer satisfaction leads to higher spending, more frequent customers; in addition to an increased chance of bringing in new customers. This will eventually result in higher profits.

General

General support includes resources such as human resources and financial resources, as well as the working environment. Making sure your employees are satisfied with their work environment is important. With comfort, efficiency, and productivity in the workplace, your employees will produce more quality products and services. Your customers will thank you later!

People

Job descriptions are designed to include all of the qualifications and experience your organization requires from ideal candidates for a specific position. Descriptions also include a general list of responsibilities that come with the role. Creating an accurate job description will help you filter out candidates much more effectively, saving time and effort both for applicants and hiring managers.

One reason why human resources is required in the hiring process is that they often hold records for employee qualifications. They also have documentation surrounding training materials new employees will need in order to perform their roles effectively and efficiently. Having human resources involved makes the hiring process go more smoothly.

Infrastructure

Organizations need building blocks and blueprints to be successful, and that is exactly what the infrastructure section of the quality manual does a great job of covering.

Providing necessary resources to departments and maintaining them are important for a successful working environment, whether it be physical workspaces or software. Quality managers and facility managers will often be the brains behind this process, responsible for making sure operations are completed successfully.

Operation

Managing operations is one of the hardest parts of implementing a new quality management system, as it requires a lot of time and energy to ensure its success. While your organization plans operations, certain operation details will need to be reviewed, including:

  • Objectives and requirements for the product or service
  • Verification, validation, monitoring, inspection, and test requirements
  • Documented information to demonstrate conformity
  • Related life risks and opportunities
  • Documented information to demonstrate conformity and control of nonconforming products
  • Necessary resources or outsourced processes and their controls
  • Criteria for process performance and product/service acceptance
  • Potential consequences and mitigation to change affecting input requirements
  • Resources necessary to support the ongoing operation and maintenance of the product

Customer Requirements

Understanding and meeting customer requirements is crucial. As mentioned earlier, making sure that customers are satisfied with what they receive from your business — whether it be a product or service — is important to a company’s success.

Customer complaints should be documented and fed into the continuous improvement process or control of nonconforming process.

In fact, the ISO recommends that your customers’ expectations should be exceeded to ensure continual growth and success.

Communication

Keeping communication active between your organization and customers will help improve satisfaction and help reduce any concerns they may have. The customer service team and the sales and marketing department are both responsible for ensuring a line of communication always exists between you and the customer.

There are many ways you can maintain communication with customers, including:

  • Email
  • Letters, direct mail, response forms
  • Surveys
  • Website feedback
  • Customer services
  • Social Media
  • Apps

Of course, with emerging new technology and social media, it is important for organizations to keep up-to-date with how your customers would like to communicate with you. Make it easy for them using the channel they best prefer.

Performance Evaluation

Owners are always anxious to see performance evaluations. However, it is important to review your business’s performance rate routinely, so you know which facets of your quality systems are working correctly — and which aren’t, so you can make improvements later.

There are various methods of developing and responding to performance evaluation, including looking trends that occur in non-conformities, creating and implementing corrective actions and reviewing requirements set out by both the QMS and ISO 9001.

Customer Satisfaction

We’ve talked about customer satisfaction quite a bit already, but this is next up on the list for the requirements of ISO and should be part of your documentation and records.

Your rating should be monitored monthly, at the very least. Various analysis techniques can be applied to review the data. Feedback — Failure or Success should be followed-up with customer communication.

As mentioned before, customer satisfaction directly effects sales and profit — which should always be your goal for growing the business.

Improvement

Last, but not least, in the quality manual — the last of the mandatory requirements, we have improvement. The quality manager is one of the more important roles involved in this section, responsible for using evaluation tools to assess the QMS and develop recommendations for improvements.

Your organization should also make sure that the data that is analyzed is relevant to your QMS and relates to both short-term and long-term improvement.

Nonconformity And Corrective Action

The ISO 9001 quality manual ends on the note of non-conformities and discussing corrective actions that can address them. Any non-conformities found are brought to the attention of the quality manager. The records from these findings are then logged alongside recommendations for corrective actions to resolve them.

There are many types of data inputs that could relate to the success of your QMS, including supplier performance, internal and external audit results, and evaluation of risks and opportunities. The quality manager often checks these data inputs as they become available.

If there are changes required to ensure that there is continual improvement in your organization’s processes, the quality manager may recommend a series of corrective actions that will need to be performed before your next audit or performance evaluation. The success that stems from these corrective actions will be assessed through the management review process.

ISO 9001 building blocks

Creating A Quality Manual And Document Management

Now that you have a better idea of what the business quality manual and QMS documentation looks like and what it generally includes, it is now up to you to customize it to fit your business.

In its original digital format, the quality manual should be classified as ‘controlled’ document that must be maintained accordingly. The quality manual will generally lose its ‘controlled’ status once it is printed.

How Do You Prepare a Quality Manual?

In order to make sure your quality manual fits the requirements from your quality management system or ISO 9001, your quality manual should:

  • Demonstrate proper roles are assigned for processes
  • Provide clear, concise information throughout
  • Be detailed, but not too long
  • Break outs between each clause

How Should I Assign Document Numbers And Their Sequence?

We use the same numbering sequence as ISO 9001 in our quality manuals. You are free to replace these with a system that works best for your staff and for the business — as long as the system is logical, documented and communicated, it should be more than adequate.

We find it easier for external auditors during certification audits if it is the same as ISO standards. The lead auditor and other internal auditors often comment it is easier for documentation and records to have the same number and sequence as the requirements of ISO 9001.

PRO TIP!

  • Ask your business partners and suppliers for a PDF of their quality manual. You will find these invaluable and they will help Top Management envisage the work to do.
  • The business will find it beneficial if your quality manual is compatible with your most trusted business partners; try to develop your documentation to follow a similar outline, if possible.

Documented Procedures

When implementing ISO, you will need to document the procedures involved in your quality management system, including:

  • Corrective action procedure
  • Risk management procedure
  • Calibration procedure
  • Documented information procedure
  • Management review procedure
  • Internal auditing procedure

You also need to document your main operating procedures or processes for your QMS.

Some companies recommend documenting lots of operating procedures — some Quality Manual Templates include more than 40 procedures! Our advice is to NOT make life so complicated for yourself, there is no need to document all these procedures, keep it simple and document fewer.

Our ISO 9001 Quality Manual Template for example, comes with 10 or 18 procedures; these Templates are suitable for all business types, large and small.

How Many Procedures Should I Document?

ISO 9000:2015 (3.4.5) defines a procedure as a specified way to carry out an activity or a process. With this in mind, businesses often risk becoming overburdened with too many procedures that document each business activity. This cumbersome methodology detracts from the 'process approach' that is a central theme in ISO 9001:2015.

It is up to you how many procedures you document, there are no hard and fast rules for ISO 9001.

Some companies like to document all their operating procedures - we've seen documentation with more than 40 procedures — but beware, the more procedures you document the more work and internal audits you are creating for yourself and your company.

We recommend documenting the following procedures, which satisfies all the latest requirements:

  • Control of Documented Information
  • Control of Risks & Opportunities
  • Control of Competence & Awareness
  • Control of Calibrated Equipment
  • Control of Design & Development
  • Control of Purchasing & Procurement
  • Control of nonconformity & Corrective Action
  • Control of Customer Satisfaction
  • Control of Internal Audits
  • Control of Management Reviews

No matter how large or small your organization, by documenting the mandatory QMS processes, our documented procedures provide what you need to generate the records needed to ensure the effective operation and control of your organization's QMS and its processes. Our templates fulfill all the requirements of ISO 9001:2015.

ISO procedures

Free download - Calibrated Equipment Procedure (ISO 9001)

This free procedure will give you an idea of the current level of documentation required for ISO 9001.

Why Would You Document More Procedures?

Some ISO consultants and professionals recommend documenting many, many processes and procedures, we see some Templates with over 40 procedures!
We do not agree with this. It is not necessary to document all your business processes to achieve ISO 9001.

  1. How much more work do you want to give consultants and Certification Auditors? More procedures take more time and effort, and costs more to review. Why give auditors more information and more opportunities to find non-conformities?
  2. How many of your Clients want to wade through dozens of procedures to find the sections or elements that matter most to them? Keep it simple, for their benefit and yours!
  3. How much training can you do? As part of each procedure's implementation, employees require regular training, familiarization and monitoring. Lots of procedures will take more time away from the coal face!

Do not create too much documented information with too many procedures. You are going to be creating more work for yourself and everybody. It is going to take more time and it is going to cost more money.

Process Maps — Description of Interaction of Processes

Represented by a flow chart, this description helps showcase each and every process within your company and how each one is connected to the other. This really is quite beneficial, as it does a great job of tying everything up and providing clarity if there is still any confusion left.

The description also makes the processes clear and concise to employees as well, which is important in ensuring they understand how to perform their tasks efficiently.

Example Process Map

ISO process map

Free download - 4 example Process Maps

Writing Style

Ensure your documents are easy to read and understand, do not use jargon specific to your industry. Write in a professional, informative and concise manner. Use short, broken up sentences, with informative images and simply state what is actually done, in the present tense; to describe the process as it is meant to happen.

Finally, your manual should be presented in a professional manner. Use your branding for the design and layout (this is where Templates that use styles, such as ours, are ideal). Distribute in PDF format, always with the date and/or version number in the filename or metadata.

The content of our quality manual and procedure templates is clearly articulated by using future progressive tense phraseology to describe the sequence of steps, actions and outputs as they are meant to happen.

PRO TIP! Written in a clear and unambiguous, active voice style; the quality manual and procedures use the verbs 'will' and 'must', instead of 'shall' or 'should', which expresses an expectation of what has to happen in the present or future. It also implies the willingness of someone to undertake the task and conveys the typical behaviour of the things that must be done.

helpful tips

Final Tips for Creating Your Manual

If you find that your organization is struggling to create a quality manual, consider these tips:

  • To pass a certification body audit, a Quality Management System must be an audit-able entity
  • Just writing about it is not enough — the QMS must also be implemented
  • Aim for minimal documentation (especially if you're a small business). Don't document 40+ procedures — you're creating too much work for everyone
  • Start with the assumption that you're currently doing all (or most) of what ISO 9001 asks
  • Use separate documents for each procedure
  • Use the same numbering as the standard
  • PRO TIP! Ask your business partners, suppliers and customers for a PDF copy of their Quality Manual
  • Use a Quality Manual Template — start your documentation out on the right track
  • Create a list of policies that your organization needs. Think about what requirements you need to meet ISO 9001 standards in addition to what helps fulfill your quality management system’s needs
  • Draft policies based on ISO requirements. These will be the most important, so make sure that you continuously review and revise them as needed until they are compliant
  • Make sure that any terms specific to your company or industry are defined in a glossary or appendix within the manual; never assume that everyone will understand those business-specific terms
  • Determine a general format for your quality manual and create a few first drafts to review and tweak as needed. Allow management from all departments to review the manual to ensure that the final draft is accurate to their areas. Doing this will also help you identify any inadequacies in various sections
  • Once your team has finished reviewing and have agreed on any revisions, obtain a formal approval for the final draft before releasing
  • Revision Control is important — particularly if many people are involved with contributing to different documents. Always document the revision date
  • Make sure your official quality manual stays a controlled document as per ISO 9001 requirements. Update the document as your business needs change, and keep the language simple and easy for anyone who has access to it to understand
  • Finally, ensure your quality manual is relevant to your organization; your quality manual is unique to your business and your business alone

Whether your business is looking to better satisfy ISO 9001 requirements or simply needs a way to ease the transition to a new quality management system, a quality manual can help. Although it seems complicated to create the documentation at first, it is quite straightforward to do with the right template in hand.

 

Further ISO 9001 Documentation

 

Updated: 4th June 2021
Author: Richard Keen

Richard Keen

Richard Keen

Richard is our Compliance Director, responsible for content & product development.
But most importantly he is ISO's biggest fanboy and a true evangelist of the standards.
Learn more about Richard

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