Management Review Inputs: Objectives, targets, monitoring and measuring

Recently I have been asked about the inputs needed for management review, especially concerning objectives, monitoring and measurement, and process performance.

One of the contentious points is the fact that some registrars are requiring a metric of some kind for every process, citing the subclause 6.2.1:

The organization shall establish quality objectives at relevant functions, levels and processes needed for the quality management system.
What!! This troubles the minds of many managers (and auditors) who wonder if we need to just conjure up something, just for show.  After all, what kind of performance indicator is of any value for something like management review?

That is a fair question. We should ask ourselves what Craig Cochran’s book ISO 9001:2015 In Plain English explains all this better than I could. Craig first asks, (paraphrased) who in your organization is not relevant? He then points out that some objectives are organization-wide (applying to everyone) while others are at the functional level, specifically addressing departmental responsibilities and output.  Let’s look at process performance. In the ISO/TC 176/SC 2/N1289 guidance document for process approach in ISO 9001:2015, The Check phase of P-D-C-A is “monitor and measure processes and results against policies, objectives and requirements and report results” So we can see processes and results are intended to support objectives.

I think a key problem is in sorting out tactical from strategic.  Maybe it would help to use different terms, such as

  • KPI: Key performance indicators at the process level – tactical, where the transactions or processing happens
  • Targets: goals at department level – tactical, an aggregate of the KPIs
  • Objectives: the organization-wide, strategic aims indicating the organization is meeting its overall quality goals.

Now there is the dilemma in how to report all this in management review (9.3.2 (c)), in which required inputs include

information on the performance and effectiveness of the quality management system, including trends in:

1) customer satisfaction and feedback from relevant interested parties;
2) the extent to which quality objectives have been met;
3) process performance and conformity of products and services;
4) nonconformities and corrective actions;
5) monitoring and measurement results;
6) audit results;
7) the performance of external providers…

I think one key point should be that  the management review input #3 is process performance and conformity of products and services, while input #2 is for quality objectives, which are on a higher level.  On page 219 he describes process performance in trench-level terms:
How are our processes running and what indicates that our products meet requirements?
He notes these can be determined during internal audits; I agree with that, as “results of audits” are intended to show what’s been learned about the QMS effectiveness. #5 is for results of monitoring and measurement, which refers to what we set up in 9.1.1 and analyzed in 9.1.3. It is at the process level, showing management what process level people have already seen: the results indicated by measurements that indicate the degree/extent to which operational controls put in place are effective. A process may have a number of these types of measurements, which can be rolled up in an analysis (9.1.3) to arrive at process performance.

It would have helped, I think, if the input points were in a different order.

Let’s keep in mind that the language in ISO 9001:2015 clause for management review does not include specifics on which management members will review which input, or how often management reviews take place; it also does not say everything needs to be reviewed at once. The standard seems to imply it will be a high level meeting, but a yearly look at inputs #3 and #5 arguably should not wait until the end of the year. There are probably ops reviews or similar, done even on a monthly basis, in which these are reviewed in order to generate a timely and appropriate response if needed.

It may finally be time to establish balanced scorecards on a wider basis, if it helps – please remember the standard does not require a balanced scorecard; I just find their structure could be helpful in sorting out the strategic from the tactical. One could argue that a single, well-crafted scorecard could represent all of the expectations of 9.3.2 inputs #2, #3, and #5.  There are a number of books on the subject.  I have Kaplan’s and found it was a good read, but it lacked examples. Luckily we have lots of examples to review, to help understand how these data might be arranged to show how they support the organization’s overall strategic objectives.

My affiliation with the author Craig Cochran is in his involvement here: he is a fellow Cover.