Management system guidance

6.0 Planning

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6.2 Quality objectives and plans to them achieve them

6.2.1 Establishing Objectives

An effectively implemented management system aligns the quality policy with strategic and management system objectives and provides the framework upon which to translate these objectives into functional targets.

Establish and maintain documented quality objectives and targets, at each relevant function and level within the organization. The objectives and targets establish an important link between the policies and the management programmes. The objectives and targets must be consistent with the policies, including the commitment to prevention of pollution and continual improvement.

Depending on the size, management structure, and other factors pertaining to your organization, the objectives may be established and reviewed by various personnel and with direct top management input.

Your organization will need to set their environmental, quality and health & safety objectives for relevant functions, levels and processes within the management system. It is for your organization to decide which functions, levels and processes are relevant.

A key addition in the 2015 revision of ISO 9001 and 14001 is the use of indicators to monitor the achievement of objectives. Indicators are defined as a measurable representation of the status of operations, management or conditions. Each objective will need one or more associated indicators.

Objectives can apply to an entire organization, can be site-specific, or can be specific to individual activities. The appropriate level(s) of management personnel should define the objectives and targets.

In some cases, personnel who set objectives may not be the same as those who set targets. Remember that the objectives are the overall goals as reflected in the principles established in the policy.

The scope and number of the objectives and targets must be realistic and achievable. Otherwise, the success and continued commitment from top management and employees will diminish. Consider the factors below, as you begin to formulate your objectives:

  1. Compliance obligations;
  2. Significant aspects (aspects directly related to significant impacts);
  3. Significant hazards (hazards directly related to risks);
  4. Financial, operational, and business requirements;
  5. Views of interested parties.

Targets must be quantified where practicable and the units that are used to quantify the targets are referred to as key performance indicators (KPIs). A KPI is defined as an expression that is used to provide information about management system performance. The following are some examples of KPIs:

  1. The quantity of raw material or energy used;
  2. The amount waste produced;
  3. The number of incidents;
  4. The number of accidents;
  5. The percentage of waste recycled;
  6. Investment in environmental protection.

Carefully consider the type of KPI you choose to use. Suppose your organization establishes a target to reduce its non-hazardous waste by 40 % and the KPI you choose is the total tonnage of waste produced each year (tons/year).

If your organization triples its production of units and reduces the amount of waste by 50 % percent per product unit, the KPI, tons per year, does not show the reduction.

In this case, the better KPI would have been the weight amount of waste per product unit (Kg per unit). In many cases, measuring against the production units proves to be more accurate. The following is an example of an objective with a specific of a target and an environmental performance indicator:

  1. Objective: reduce energy required in manufacturing processes;
  2. Target: achieve 15 % reduction of energy usage by 2018;
  3. Indicator: quantity of electricity per production unit (kilowatt/unit).

Organizations are required to establish and maintain one or more management improvement programmes for achieving their objectives. The management improvement programme is a key element to the success of the management system.

Properly designed and implemented, management programmes should achieve the objectives and, consequently, improve your organization’s performance. The management programme must:

  1. Address each objective and target;
  2. Designate the personnel responsible for achieving targets at each relevant function/level of the organization;
  3. Provide an action plan describing how each target will be achieved;
  4. Establish a time-frame or a schedule for achieving each target.

6.2.2 Objectives & Planning to Achieve Them

Your organization must undertake planning in order to determine how its management system objectives will be achieved. This planning includes determining the work required in order for the organization to realize its objectives you should look for evidence that effective planning is taking place to support the achievement of your organization’s objectives.

Additionally, your organization must determine how it will evaluate the work done, including the use of indicators, and whenever possible, to integrate these planned actions into its business processes. The use of indicators needs to be audited in detail in order to determine whether:

  1. objectives based on sound information;
  2. Indicators really related to the corresponding objectives;
  3. Statistical tools needed to define and to monitor objectives;
  4. Indicators reach the expected values;
  5. The organization can assure that the objective has been achieved.

Establishing an action plan for each objective may require effort on the part of the personnel at relevant levels within your organization. To ensure the progress of the action plan and a coordinated effort, a target leader should be selected for each target.

The target leader will be responsible for ensuring a target is achieved within the specified time-frame. Once the action plan is established, you must implement it. You may find that the following suggestions will help foster a cooperative effort in accomplishing the plan:

  1. Involve your employees early in establishing and carrying out the action plans;
  2. Communicate the expectations and responsibilities laid out in the action plans to those who need to know;
  3. Build on the plans and programmes you have now for building management system compliance;
  4. Keep it simple;
  5. Focus on continual improvement of management programmes over time.

The management programme should be revised regularly to reflect changes in your organization’s objectives and targets. Track all new or modified operations, activities, and/or products in case the management programme needs to be amended to reflect these changes

Auditors will expect to review a set of interrelated objectives, ensuring that they are mutually consistent and that they are aligned with the strategic direction of your organization.

Documented information of objectives typically is in the form of a description or matrix of the objective and corresponding means and timeframe to achieve the objectives.

You should seek and record evidence that effective planning was undertaken in support of the organization’s quality objectives and their achievement. You should ensure that this planning activity takes into considerations of Clause 6.2.1, as well as the following points:

  1. Identification of processes, resources, and skills needed to achieve quality;
  2. Identification of suitable verification criteria at appropriate stages;
  3. Compatibility of design, production, inspection and testing;
  4. The confirmation of criteria of acceptability for all features and requirements;
  5. Details of calibration of any special measuring or test equipment to be used.

More information on PDCA


4.1 Understanding Context 4.2 Interested Parties 4.3 Determining Scope
4.4 Management System Processes  
5.1 Leadership and Commitment 5.2 Policies 5.3 Roles, Responsibility and Authority
6.1 Address Risk and Opportunity 6.2 System Objectives and Planning 6.3 Planning for Change


7.1 Resources 7.2 Competence 7.3 Awareness
7.4 Communication 7.5 Documented Information
8.1 Operational Planning and Control 8.2 Requirements for Products and Services 8.3 Design & Development
8.4 Externally Provided Products and Services 8.5 Product and Service Provision 8.6 Release of Products and Services
8.7 Non-conforming Outputs 8.8 Emergency Preparedness 8.9 Accident and Incident Investigation


9.1 Monitor, Measure, Analyse and Evaluate 9.2 Internal Audit 9.3 Management Review


10.1 Improvement - General 10.2 Non-Conformity and Corrective Action 10.3 Continual Improvement

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