Definition of the term („What is a quality management handbook?“)
The quality management manual serves as an internal compilation and record of the quality management system of a company. It describes the management policy on quality implemented in the company as well as the resulting measures. Moreover, it operates as an entry point for employees and auditors to get a quick overview of the QM system.
What is a QM handbook used for?
The general idea of a QM handbook is to briefly summarize the management system at a central location in the company. Thus, it should be provided to the entire staff together with all further applicable documents and work instructions. Moreover, it is required for the onboarding of affected employees and auditors allowing to quickly and concisely provide information on and contents of the QM system.
Is a QM handbook mandatory?
While the QM handbook was still indispensable on EN ISO 9001, it is no longer urgently required since the revision ISO 9001:2015. Previously, it was the main instrument allowing companies to illustrate the structures and procedures within the company. Now, companies decide themselves, which procedures and processes are internally documented and how they structure and describe procedures. The new ISO 9001:2015 thus allows for a more modern (mainly IT-based) dynamic and flexible recording of the QM system. However, the existing QM handbook can be adjusted to the requirements of the ISO 9001:2015 and still serve as motivation and information.
What does a QM handbook have to include?
Apart from the information on the quality policy and the quality goals, a QM handbook contans an overview of:
- Structure of the company organization
- Roles assigned within the QM system
- Documents assigned in the QM system
- process instructions
- Work, safety and test instructions
- Quality records
Benefits of a QM handbook
A QM handbook is an essential part of a proper document control. Every step, from creation to finishing and packaging, can be presented in a comprehensible manner so that potential sources of error can be identified at an early stage. Therefore, a company should have a quality management system (QMS) to position itself as a competitive company.