QMS Guidance Pt. 10 – ISO 9001 Clause 9

Clause 9 is called Performance Evaluation and I’m splitting the clause up into 3 QMS Guidance notes along the lines of the sub-clauses because its such an important clause to get right.

This clause deals with a whole range of aspects to do with performance including, how and what you decide to monitor and measure, levels of customer satisfaction, analysis of the data you’ve generated, QMS internal auditing and the big one Management Review. So lets dive right in.

Sub-Clause 9.1.1

This clause is called to give it its full title Monitoring, Measurement, Analysis and Evaluation (MMAE) and with the exception of customer satisfaction leaves it up to you what and how you do things.

The first part of the clause provides a bullet list of guidelines to tell you how to approach the process. It asks that you decide what you’re going to measure which other than customer satisfaction is left up to you. The methods of MMAE are left up to you meaning you can be as enquiring and creative as you want, (as a consultant I’d be reaching into the Lean 6-Sigma playbook for the appropriate tools at this point). You also get to decide at what intervals you will do the monitoring and measurement activities and finally when you will do the analysis and evaluation.

The clause specifically limits you to MMAE of the QMS and requires you to keep documented information of the results, other than that its up to you.

Sub-Clause 9.1.2

An interesting clause that deals with Customer Satisfaction, the only aspect absolutely required to be measured as part of 9.1. This clause is just one paragraph long asking you to monitor customer perceptions on how well you’ve fulfilled their needs and expectations. Absolutely no detail on how you should go about this, time frames and what you should do with the information once you have it. There is a note attached which offers some guidance in the form of a short list of examples of what you might do. And ISO do not require any documentary evidence at all, so long as you’ve monitored customer satisfaction from an auditing perspective you’re in the clear.

I’m confident though that any organisation would want more than whats being offered by the standard and once again the lite touch approach allows you to monitor as much or as little as you feel necessary. But there is no doubting that unsatisfied customers will eventually decide to spend their money elsewhere if their concerns aren’t addressed. At the very heart of organisational improvement is the ability to admit you have room for improvement and the second step is to find out where you stand.

As a consultant my approach would be to;

  1. Define the goals, start by asking yourself what you want to get out of the process
  2. Outline a plan including what you’re going to do with the data you’ve generated (e.g. test different live chat scripts to see what works best...)
  3. Decide on what metrics you’re going to employ, such as customer survey score, customer effort score (how easy was it to deal with you) or net promoter score (how likely it is they would recommend your services), these are not the only methods, there are plenty more to choose from
  4. Customise your efforts according to your organisational environment, remembering to be customer focused
  5. Determine your trigger points, such as time since sign-up, a key action point (such as every 10th order), or every 90 days… but ask for feedback too often and you wont get engagement
  6. Select your medium; e-mail, long e-mail, post-purchase, in-app…
  7. Analyse the data generated – I cover this in the next sub-clause
  8. Make adjustments and repeat, this is the application of PDCA to the monitoring of customer satisfaction part

Sub-Clause 9.1.3

Once you’ve done your monitoring and measuring the standard then requires you to analyse and evaluate what you’ve uncovered and it gives you a bullet list of requirements for what you’ve to evaluate based on your analysis findings.

Once again the standard doesn’t require you to document what you’ve done or your findings but my recommendation is document it all, what you did, what you found and what it all means to your organisation because its going to come in really handy when you get to Management Review.

Interestingly what the standard does offer is a note pushing you in the direction of statistical analysis methods and once again I cant help but think you should consider reaching into the Lean 6-Sigma playbook for appropriate methods. I’m not saying this is a must, but I am just saying, that’s all.

The Take-Aways

Take-Away # 1 – when doing MMAE using Lean 6-Sigma methods will uncover detailed and actionable information

Take-Away # 2 – actions taken to uncover and establish levels of customer satisfaction is at the heart of the first quality principle of customer focus

Take-Away # 3 – a well crafted and organised system of finding out levels of customer satisfaction will uncover almost priceless and actionable data

Take-Away # 4 – the use of statistical models to interrogate the data will provide a rich feed into the Management Review process

Philip Dawson MBA | Lead Auditor | ISO 9001 | ISO 14001 | ISO 45001 | ISO 27001 | Lean 6-Sigma Practitioner

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