ISO 9001:2015 – Expert Tips for Setting Quality Objectives

Share on facebook
Share on email
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Identifying and tracking quality objectives are a requirement of the ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management standard. In this blog, we asked Quality Management guru Tony Cunningham, MD of Wynleigh International Certification Services, to share his insights and tips for establishing measurable Quality Objectives.


The first step in planning your Quality Management System is to identify quality objectives that are consistent with your organisation’s Quality Policy. The SMART criteria/framework is a popular tool used for establishing quality objectives, which should be:

Specific: an objective must be clearly defined or identified so everyone is able to interpret it in the same way.

Measurable: an objective should be quantifiable and interpreted in terms of size or degree.

Attainable: an objective should be achievable.

Relevant: an objective should be relevant to the organisation’s context and align with the quality policy and customer, statutory or regulatory requirements so that it is relevant to the strategic direction of the organisation.

Time-oriented: an objective should be time-bound in order to establish that it is met.

Learn more about Risk-based Thinking in a Quality Management System. Download our FREE Guide: How to: Address Risk-based Thinking in A Quality Management System.


The ISO 9001:2015 standard stipulates requirements that need to be satisfied for quality objectives. Let’s take a closer look at these:

1. Objectives must be established at relevant functions, levels and processes within the QMS. Consider these factors as you begin to formulate your objectives:

  • Legal and compliance requirements.
  • Significant aspects directly related to significant impacts.
  • Significant hazards related to risks.
  • Financial, operational, and business requirements.
  • Views of interested parties.

2. Objectives must be consistent with your quality policy, relevant to product / service conformity and the enhancement of customer satisfaction.

3. Objectives must be measurable. A measure or metric must be quantifiable to track performance. A performance indicator or key performance indicator (KPI) evaluates the success of an organisation or of a particular activity and should follow the SMART criteria/framework. The following are examples of KPIs:

  • The quantity of raw material or energy used
  • The amount of waste produced
  • The number of incidents/accidents
  • The percentage of waste recycled

Actions to address risks and opportunities

This is a new requirement that stipulates that a process be implemented to determine and evaluate applicable risks. Examples of risks that the QMS will not achieve its objectives include the failure of processes, products and services to meet their requirements, or the organisation not achieving customer satisfaction.

Examples of opportunities include the potential to identify new customers, to determine the need for new products or services or to determine the need for revising or replacing a process in order for it to become more efficient.

4. Objectives must take into account applicable requirements and comply with the ISO 9001:2015 standard requirements.

5. Objectives must be relevant to the conformity of products and services. Objectives should have an impact on products, services, and/or customers and be tied directly to products or customers’ expectations .

6. Objectives must be monitored. Periodically evaluate and review progress and results of actions taken towards the objectives. The leadership team can review results at the management review meeting or at set intervals between management reviews.

7. Objectives must be communicated. Employees need to be aware of the organisation’s goals, why they are important, what value they provide, how they are measured and how they impact progress towards the goals.

8. Objectives must be updated as appropriate. Objectives must be periodically reviewed and updated. The management review meetings is probably the best forum for this. Leadership should consider the goal of each objective and current results towards those goals. Options might be to eliminate the objective, replace it with a new objective, modify the associated metric or target goal, or change the timeline to achieve it.

9. Objectives must be documented. You must maintain documented information defining your business objectives and update them periodically. Auditors will expect to review a set of objectives to ensure that they are consistent and aligned with the strategic direction of your organisation.

10. Objectives must be planned. Planning must define the work or tasks to be done, the required resources, who has overall responsibility for the project, dates for completion, and how the results will be reviewed and evaluated.


  • Use the SMART Framework when establishing your quality objectives.
  • Include team members in the establishment of quality objectives.
  • If you are struggling to come up with ideas then look at non-conformances and customer complaints.
  • Communication is KEY! Ensure all team members are aware of the objectives and the steps to meet them.
  • Monitor the process.
  • Evaluate the results!

Are you having a difficult time identifying quality objectives for your organisation? You’re not alone!

Risk ZA can help you to become an expert in the ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management standard! We offer Training, Online Learning and Consulting – whereby we are able to assist you right from the basic, through to becoming a full-fledged pro when it comes to Quality.

Learn more about Risk-based Thinking in a Quality Management System. Download our FREE Guide: How to: Address Risk-based Thinking in A Quality Management System.

Join us for upcoming ISO 9001:2015 Public Training events:

Visit our Training Date schedule to find upcoming dates: Training Date Schedule

Pressed for time or working in a remote location?  Our online learning courses are the perfect solution for you! Sign Up for the ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management online learning course here.

Risk ZA provides and wide range of training, consulting and software services for ISO Management Systems. To enquire further, contact our expert team on +27 (0) 31 569 5900, email  or view our Training Schedule here.

You can share this blog post on your preferred social media platform:

Share on facebook
Share on email
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Leave a Comment