Understand the requirement 5.1 Leadership and Commitment of ISO 9001:2015 and the role of Senior Management in Quality Management
Upgrading from ISO 9001 version 2008 to version 2015 brought many important changes to the standard. This revision brought to light the most versatile 9001 of all and allowed greater flexibility for companies, both regarding integration with other standards (SGI), as well as the implementation of the standard itself and the choice of management tools.
A requirement that brought important changes was the item “5.1 Leadership and commitment”. Before him, the Quality Management System had a formal responsible, the Management Representative (MR). With the advent of 5.1, this figure was extinguished from the norm.
Before, due to this formal responsibility, the QMS ends up being completely delegated to the figure of the MR, something very harmful for companies. Now, the standard has reversed roles and placed senior management at the center of quality responsibility. And this requirement is what we want to talk about today!
“5.1 Leadership and Commitment” of Senior Management
According to this item of the standard, Senior Management “must demonstrate leadership and commitment to the quality management system”. Here, it is worth emphasizing the verb “must” as it is it who, in short, defines the course of the norm.
The use of the word “must” means that top management cannot delegate this role, so it needs to be the flagship of quality, it needs to hold the reins! And for that, a number of aspects need to be developed. And these aspects are described in the standard, as we will see now.
How can the Board demonstrate Leadership and Commitment?
In order to “comply” with the standard, the management must ensure the controls and actions described throughout the item (from A to J). The interesting thing is to understand that, now, the board needs to have quality on the radar.
So, it needs to ensure that the company’s objectives and policy are consistent with the organization’s strategy (item B). It needs to promote the process approach (item d) and, for that, allocate the necessary resources for the QMS to function (item e).
Other factors, such as engagement, support for continuous improvement and support for the relevant roles of the QMS are also fundamental and, therefore, are described in the text of the standard.
All of this, of course, to “ensure that the quality management system achieves its intended results” (item g). Which leads us to understand, then, that the purpose of ISO 9001 is to ensure that top management really supports the organization in achieving its goals.
Top management needs to take care of quality to take care of the business
If the items are still in doubt, ISO 9001 still leaves a note that helps you remember what’s in it:
NOTE Reference to “business” in this International Standard may be interpreted broadly as those activities central to the organization’s existence, whether public, private, for-profit or non-profit. (Requirement 5.1, grade, ISO 9001:2015)
ISO 9001 was created to be widely implemented according to the principle of neutrality. In this way, no matter what the organization’s objective is, whether it is profit-oriented or not, the implementation of a quality management system serves to help the company and achieve the “purposes of the organization’s existence”.
Therefore, Senior Management is responsible for leveraging the QMS. That is why it is the company that must take the reins and ensure that the system promotes changes for the company. Otherwise, what we will have is the old-fashioned bureaucratic management system.
Top Management needs to be committed to Quality management
Now, with the 2015 version, quality has made more and more people aware. Of course, there is still a lot to work on and many “Top Managements” still do not understand this. But from here, we have an important milestone.
ISO 9001 made it clear that commitment to the QMS is required, and that this is part of leadership. Now, as auditors, we need to ensure that this will be fulfilled in companies. That leadership will not be exempt and that, more than ever, it understands that the quality management system is an inherent part of the responsibility of being a leader.