A quality manual is an extensive document detailing an organisations control quality policies and systems. The quality control manual will detail roles and responsibilities required for adherence to quality control standards in an efficient, yet cost effective manner. In addition, the quality manual will detail the audit process to ensure compliance, usually with the assistance of a third party.
The quality control standards usually draw from independent standards such as the ISO 9001 standards as a guideline for planning and implementing quality objectives within the organisation. Prepare to dedicate a few months to put your quality manual together and draw from the expertise of a wide range on internal staff and third-party consultants.
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Determine your quality control system and document it. While ISO does not demand a specific format for your quality system, ISO does recommend outlining your system to cover the following hierarchy:
Level 1: Quality Manual
Level 2: Quality Procedures
Level 3: In-Depth Quality Documents
Write the purpose of your quality manual. The purpose should address some specifics such as describing your quality system; detailing you quality process and procedures; defining your quality standards; determining how the organisation will meet quality control standards; and training, implementation, and proving your systems meets the standards set forth.
Outline your quality manual. Organise your quality manual into the following sections:
Systems for Quality
Policies regarding Quality
Explanation or Definitions of all quality terms used in the manual
Management Procedures and Processes
Requirements of Quality
Lay the groundwork to develop your quality manual. This process will involve quite a few steps to include the following:
Determine your quality policies.
Determine all quality control systems in the organisations and/or develop quality control systems required.
Document all your quality procedures.
Determine which quality control systems the manual will cover.
Undercover all documented quality procedures already document for current quality systems.
Interview all departments and design questionnaires to learn out about current quality control practices in use and document them.
Appoint someone with excellent writing skills to write the quality manual.
Attach existing documents to go into the manual.
Develop the actual quality control manual. The manual should follow this format:
Give the manual a title page.
Write a Table of Contents (place after title page, but reserve the compilation for last).
Document the scope of the manual.
Write an overview section describing the contents of the manual.
Introduce your company.
Detail your quality control policy.
Detail each of your quality objectives.
Detail all quality procedures.
Describe the structure of your company.
Define all terms in the manual and detail the usage of those terms in the context of the manual.
Detail all aspects that define the quality system as a whole.
Compile an index for quick reference to all major topics in the manual, to include subsections under the major topics.
Review and edit your quality control manual before distribution throughout the company. You should enlist the assistances of all experts internally and externally to review the manual for accuracy of topics and for edits of the written content. In addition, you should select both managers and users of the manual to review and provide input to help clarify topics.
Tips and warnings
- While there are no requirements for formatting the quality manual, most organisations typically use some form of a template and then adjust that template to meet organizational needs. Looking at examples of finished quality manuals and using a template will help keep your focused on documenting the entire quality process with accuracy. (See Resources).
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