Management Commitment to Quality

Management must participate in the implementation project. Management will play a critical role in the leadership of the implementation project.

To involve management, determine how you will structure leadership for the project. One way of leading the project is to set up a leadership team. This team should be made up of the management representative, managers from each area of the company and top management. This team meets on a regular basis throughout the project, including during project planning. Project planning involves ensuring resources are available for the project, one of top management’s responsibilities required by the standard.

This team can be assigned the responsibilities for meeting the requirements in section 5 of the standard. The team can also assign responsibilities for the implementation or transition project, watch the project timeline, resolve problems during the project and review and approve new procedures. Keep minutes of these meetings that show attendees and assignments. This can be used to show management involvement and commitment to the development and implementation of the quality management system.

If you are not using a team approach top management will need to determine how they will be involved and be able to provide evidence of its commitment to development and implementation of the quality management system. Top management will still need to be responsible for the tasks listed above.

Communicating these responsibilities to management

The responsibility to design and implement a Quality Management System has often been given to the management representative or a quality manager that are not “Top Management”. The system is implemented, and Top Management is trained on the questions that the auditor will ask of them. This is not enough to satisfy the requirements of the ISO 9001 standard.

How can the management representative, quality manager or other person assigned responsibility for the ISO 9001 system communicate to management the importance of their involvement, especially if they are not accustomed to being involved at this level?

Educate management on their responsibilities. They must understand the specifics of what they are being asked to do to establish and support the quality system. Print out our table of Top Management Responsibilities to review with your top management. This will help you start a discussion on their role in the project.


ISO 9001:2008 Quality Management Systems has high expectations for senior management. In fact about 15% of this Standards text is devoted to the responsibilities of management. This is in recognition of the fact that if senior management doesn’t support the system then it isn’t really going to work. Sure, you can probably get certified without the support of senior management. But without them your Quality Management System will be like an appendix – it’s there but it doesn’t really achieve anything, it sometimes causes pain, and when the pain gets severe it is cut out. WITH the support of senior management your Quality Management System can be more like the heart. It can keep your organisation going and with exercise, improve it.

Management Commitment
Top management shall provide evidence of its commitment to the development and implementation of the quality management system and continually improving its effectiveness by:
a) communicating to the organization the importance of meeting customer as well as statutory and regulatory requirements,
b) establishing the quality policy,
c) ensuring that quality objectives are established,
d) conducting management reviews, and
e) ensuring the availability of resources.

ISO 14001 Environmental Management System Requirements, AS/NZS 4801 and OHSAS 18001 for OHS Management Systems all contain a clause like this one. The wording differs a little but the intent is the same. Let’s have a look at the above clause, bit by bit.

Top Management

When the Standard says top management it means the individual at the top of the organisation (e.g. CEO, Managing Director) and his/her direct reports. Depending upon the size and structure of the organisation, it may be appropriate to think of one or two layers of management below this group as top management.


If people perceive that the most senior managers in the organisation don’t care about customer/OHS/environmental requirements, regulations or laws then why should they, the employees, care? And if no one cares then you don’t have a management system.

Senior management may communicate in any number of ways including meetings, documented policies and procedures, emails, directives, newsletters, the intranet, etc. In a large organisation a communication plan may be needed to define what needs to be communicated; to whom; the methods used; the frequency; and the means for determining communication effectiveness.

Quality Policy & Objectives

Clause 5.3 states what should be in the Quality Policy. The above clause says that senior management must be involved in writing the Policy and in ensuring that it is kept current so that it meets the needs of the organisation, not just the requirements of the Standard. The objectives form part of the Quality Policy. They must be measurable and senior management is responsible for showing that progress towards those objectives is being made.

Management Reviews

Here there is another link to another clause in the ISO 9001 Quality Standard. Clause 5.3 Management review states what should be discussed during management review meetings and what the minutes should contain. But at the end of the day, if senior managers don’t attend and contribute to the management review meetings then there is, at the very least, a perceived lac

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