How SMART are Your Quality Objectives?

S.M.A.R.T. Quality Objectives.

I recently watched Robert Alvarez provide an excellent description of Quality Objectives, and I share this concept with his permission.

ISO 9001:2008, 5.4.1 requires that management set measurable quality objectives. In over 13 years of auditing, I have seen many stated objectives—of which about only 20% are measurable and 10% are measured effectively.

The following generic objectives sound worthwhile and come from great intentions, but they rarely drive effective change:
  • Maintain customer satisfaction
  • Reduce rejects
  • Improve on-time-delivery
  • Increase employee competence


Beware of setting the ideal as a goal. Objectives such as  “100% quality, 100% on-time” has no ramp-up time; consistent perfection is unrealistic. It is far less motivating to measure how short we fell from meeting a goal as opposed to how close we came.

Instead, create objectives and goals that are SMART:

Specific                                                 Objective:   Reduce Scrap Measurable                                          Goal:            by 20% Achievable Realistic Time-based                                          Due:           by January 2014

One final thought: All employees must be aware of the company’s quality objectives and how they, as individual employees, contribute to them.  Therefore, communicate, evaluate understanding, measure and communicate, and then communicate again!