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Is it time to dump your quality manual?

The ISO 9000 series of standards have been around since 1987, and their requirements for documentation have always included a quality manual. Well, not any more. In ISO 9001:2015, the requirement for a quality manual is notable for its absence.  This is part of a general change of focus away from documentation and towards the management of work processes and risk.

So it’s OK to dump your quality manual then? Well, probably, yes it is. Certainly, if some of the following apply:

  • It’s a hefty volume, written by a consultant or internal guru during the 1990’s.
  • It’s no longer understood or even read by anyone except at the annual visit by your certification auditor or registrar.
  • It has sections in 1980s/90s standard-speak terminology like ‘Inspection and test status’ or ‘Statistical techniques’, and it doesn’t seem relevant to your REAL business activities.
  • It’s signed as ‘Authorised by’ a CEO that retired some years ago.
  • Its main use is propping the door open to a storeroom or raising up someone’s computer monitor.

These are all tell-tale signs that your quality manual is no longer central to your organization’s well-being, and has perhaps passed it use-by date.

Are there any reasons to keep a quality manual? Well, there are a couple of reasons that you might consider:

  1. If your organization is currently certified to ISO 9001:2008 standard, there is still a need to meet its requirements for a quality manual. Organizations that are currently certified to that edition of the standard will transition to the 2015 over a period of time (anything up to 3 years) depending on their certification cycle and other factors.
  2. Even when your management system is based on ISO 9001:2015, you might consider it useful to maintain a brief document such as a ‘QMS Overview’. This might help to satisfy some of the requirements of the new standard (such as for a scope statement), as well as providing the reader (such as a new worker or your auditor) with an introduction to your QMS.

Just such a QMS Overview based on ISO 9001:2015 is in new versions of the Quality Manager toolkit being made available to our Qudos 3 software clients and Qudos Club members. It defines the scope of the system, explains how the organization manages its work processes, and addresses the various clauses of the new standard. This example may be customised to suit your own business.