Structure and authority

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ISO 9001:2008: Internal communication 5.5.3

The key to successful implementation is often through the involvement of all people within the organization; let everyone in the company know that you have started to introduce a new management system by holding basic awareness sessions for all employees. Make sure you retain records of attendance as this action will contribute towards satisfying the clause.

Communication is the key; communicate goals, plans, progress and milestones and then listen first then ask for feedback. Lack of communication seems to be one of the main root causes for errors in business. Keep people informed of the progress of the project; e.g. what’s been done, what’s to be done next and how the project is progressing against the plan.

Make this process transparent and visible to all concerned; for example, place progress charts on the walls and notice boards. Employees that are not part of the implementation team may not be hearing as much about what is going on with the project and may think the project has faded away. Communicate its progress via newsletters, bulletin boards or meetings.

The organization needs to ensure that procedures to control internal and external communications and interfaces are in place. Particular care needs to be taken when dealing with communications from external parties, which might well include regulatory authorities, lawyers/solicitors, insurance companies, etc. In many parts of the world there is an increasing trend towards litigation resulting from injuries received in the workplace, so the need to manage the communication process is critical.

Communication and reporting within your organization are essential components for any effective management system. Poor communications will prove detrimental to any management system. Recognizing the importance of communication, your organization should establish and maintain procedures for internal and external communications with regard to its quality management system. Documented communication procedure(s) enable organizations to:

  1. Motivate their work force
  2. Explain the policies, objectives, targets and QMS programmes
  3. Provide an effective means for personnel to communicate and address issues relating to corrective and preventive actions
  4. Ensure understanding of roles and expectations
  5. Demonstrate management commitment

Internal Communications

All well as briefing employees during introductory presentations, try using a combination of other methods to promote awareness, such as posters placed on notice boards and leaflets with pay-slips, etc.

Use training sessions to inform employees of the plan, how they will be expected to contribute and how their work will be affected by the project. Communicate why the implementation is good for the company and good for the employees.

The effectiveness of the quality management system must also be communicated, examples of internal communication might include:

  1. Are we achieving quality objectives 5.4.1?
  2. What's happening with customer satisfaction percentages 8.2.1?
  3. Changes affecting the quality management system 5.6.3

Example methods of internal communication might include:

  1. Team-briefings
  2. Notice-boards
  3. Intranet
  4. Company newsletter
  5. Employee surveys
  6. Employee suggestion schemes

External Communications

Your organization must establish and maintain a procedure to receive, document, and respond to ‘relevant communication’ from external interested parties as it pertains to the organization’s quality management system.

Some companies may already have an unofficial or official method to handle external communications. If this is the case, this method needs to be documented in the form of a procedure.

For small and medium sized organizations, the procedure may be simple: The QMS Coordinator or the management representative could be responsible for documenting and responding to external communications. For larger organizations, the procedure may not be as simple. The marketing and PR office is probably the best first point of contact.

Looking to document your communication process? Our quality manual template provides a great foundation for establishing, implementing and documenting your communication process.