“It will tie us up in a straightjacket”

I can only assume that this misconception comes from a belief that once you have a documented quality management system you have to follow it slavishly. Well assuming you have done the job properly wouldn’t you want to follow it because it represents what best practice means to you? Of course you would but nothing is ever cast in stone. You have to be watchful for the integrity of your system in the sense that any changes must be controlled and effected properly – you cannot have a free-for-all with staff changing documents and procedures willy-nilly – but you want all your users challenging the system for effectiveness and suitability all the time. I used to encourage everyone to constantly challenge the manual we had created in terms of constantly asking can we do this better. Are these the most effective methods that we can come up with? Your quality management system is not a straightjacket; it is your agreed way of doing things at this moment in time, i.e. at this stage in your business’s development given your current range of products and services, your current customer base and the client and market environments you operate in. There are lots of internal and external influences that may demand changes to your quality management system. ISO regularly compels you to ask if your quality management system is suitable and effective. If it is not you change it accordingly and make sure it is serving your business. There is always value in reviewing and assessing your quality management system’s relevance! It is not a straightjacket; it is loose clothing to be adapted, amended or cast aside and start again in dramatic circumstances. Moreover, should crises occur or more changes occur in your business’s scenario then ISO expects you to keep your system up to date.

About the Author: