In everyday corporate life, those responsible for a quality management system are often referred to as quality management representatives. In the official texts of the quality management standard ISO 9001, however, only a "representative of the top management" is mentioned, not a quality management representative. And this only up to and including the ISO 9001:2008 version.

The current standard from 2015 assigns responsibility for the quality management system to top management more clearly and comprehensively than before. It is therefore only logical that ISO 9001:2015 no longer requires a representative of top management. Instead, the top management is now responsible for the management system.

A review

Until the revision of ISO 9001 in 2015, the top management representative was assigned by the company management to take care of the issues of the quality management system. The special feature here was that the quality management representative had to be a member of top management themselves. He or she had to assume full responsibility for the QMS and needed the corresponding authority to issue directives.

However, the representative of the top management often did not take on the many tasks that had to be performed in connection with the management system, but delegated them to other employees. On the other hand, corresponding positions were often created in the company and filled with people who were responsible for the QMS.

 

The top management representative in ISO 9001:2015

When the ISO 9001 standard abolished the top management representative with the major revision of 2015 in order to transfer responsibility for quality management, including accountability, to all members of top management, it was often heard that this position was now no longer required.

ISO 9001:2015 does not explicitly require the appointment of a quality management representative or a quality manager. However, it quickly becomes clear from Chapter 5.3.3 "Roles, responsibilities and authorities" that a company with an effective quality management system will have difficulty meeting the standard requirements without such a function.

What are the tasks of the quality management representative?

Today, most companies have realized that they need both the competence and the resource of a quality management representative for a smooth-running QMS. At the same time, they still report to top management. Likewise, virtually nothing has changed in the fundamental task of putting the standard requirements into practice.

Among other things, a quality management representative must ensure that

  • the quality management system meets the requirements of the standard
  • the company processes are suitable for achieving the intended results
  • top management is regularly informed about the performance of the QMS
  • continuous improvement is ensured within the company
  • failure analyses are carried out and corresponding statistics are compiled
  • employees are trained in all aspects of quality management
  • internal audits are planned and carried out
  • documented information is ensured and monitored
  • external certification audits are coordinated and accompanied.

 

Conclusion - the quality management representative today

The term "quality management representative", as it is used in everyday company life, does not originate from the standard. There, until the version of ISO 9001:2008, there was the "top management representative" who, as a member of the top management, assumed responsibility for the quality management system and had authority to issue directives.

However, when the "top management representative" was abolished in 2015 with the major revision and replaced by the complete top management, the function mostly remained in the company. In particular, quality managers who understood the goals and motives of their managers, identified the need for good service and developed service offerings based on this, are recognized in the company for their usefulness and contributions to results.

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Author
Ute Droege

DQS expert for quality management systems, long-time auditor and experienced trainer for ISO 9001.

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