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What Is a Quality Manual in ISO 9000? - Definition & Examples

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  • 0:00 What Is ISO?
  • 1:01 The Documentation
  • 1:34 The Size of the Manual
  • 3:03 Who Uses the Manual?
  • 3:38 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jennifer Francis

Jennifer has a Masters Degree in Business Administration and pursuing a Doctoral degree. She has 14 years of experience as a classroom teacher, and several years in both retail and manufacturing.

This lesson centers on the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), quality assurance and the quality manuals by which organizations have to abide to be ISO-certified in their particular industries.

What Is ISO?

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has documentation which outlines organizations' quality systems and how they ought to operate. This is referred to as the quality manual. The documentation itself is one of the requirements of the standards. Just like the manual that came with your car, your mobile phone or your television set, the quality manual outlines some mandatory requirements. Following the guidelines set forth in the manual is required in order for an organization to receive the coveted ISO certification.

The ISO is an autonomous, non-governmental organization that requires membership. It is the world's largest developer of voluntary standards, with 163 member countries and a central office in Geneva, Switzerland. Covering every industry including agriculture, technology, healthcare and food safety, the ISO to date has published over 19,500 International Standards.

The Documentation

There are three vital components of the quality manual. The quality manual requires documentation of the organization's quality policy, which is the position that the organization takes in regards to quality. It also requires specific and measurable quality objectives and documents, such as standard operating procedures (SOPs) for at least six functional areas. The quality documentation can follow any format it chooses, including flow charts, wikis, checklists, media or hard copy, provided it contains all of the minimum mandatory requirements.

The Size of the Manual

Each quality manual may be different, and it depends on what the company wants to achieve. A quality manual that is perfect for one company, even within the same industry, may be too small or too large for another company. Smaller companies may only need one manual, while large corporations may need several. There is no specific content or headings that must be included. If the manual demonstrates how the quality administration system processes work together and what policies and techniques are established to maintain and control these processes, the structure of the manual needs little attention.

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