Despite being an important part of an audit, evaluating management commitment is a topic not often discussed. Let’s look at why management commitment is important, and what evidence to look for.

To start, let’s consider clause 5.1 of ISO 9001:2015, which looks specifically at leadership and commitment. Subclause 5.1.1 goes on to identify specific aspects of the quality management system where top management are expected to demonstrate both leadership and commitment. This starts with top management taking accountability for the effectiveness of the quality management system. It extends to include making sure the quality policy and objectives are consistent with the strategic direction of the organization, working alongside staff to ensure quality objectives are achieved, and ensuring the quality policy is communicated, understood, and applied across the organization.

ISO 9001 aside, there are many reasons why executive management must show their commitment. If management commitment isn’t evident to employees, this lack of support and direction from upper management will flow down the organization and the system will never truly be implemented throughout the organization.

Simply telling employees that they have to adhere to a standard won’t work. To be truly committed, executive management needs to drive, actively participate in, and flow the QMS down to employees through their actions.

Examples of Management Commitment

Communication is key to illustrating management commitment to a business management system. To achieve this, commitment must be illustrated through actions. If there is good communication within an organization, you can be sure that management is committed.

Management must also define the processes and how best to conduct them to meet customer requirements, while delivering the required quality at the lowest possible cost. To do so management must set measurable objectives for each process. When these are laid out clearly and accurately, management will display their commitment to the employees.

How to Tell if Management Is Committed

So how can a third-party auditor measure management commitment?

Drawing on the wording of subclause 5.1.1, in basic terms, management commitment could be demonstrated by the effectiveness of the quality management system. However, there are other signs to look for.

First, the level of management involvement in the audit process is a good indication. Management should be readily available, prepared, and excited to participate in the opening and closing meetings. Attendance at these meetings shows management commitment and represents the total support of the management team. As part of auditing clause 5 of ISO 9001, auditors are also required to interview executive management. If the auditor is only able to speak with the management representative, it can be difficult to gauge the level of management commitment.

Effective executive management will define the objectives of the company, review the data/outputs of processes, and make decisions and take action based on these reviews. These things, along with the level of communication throughout the organization will become clear throughout the audit.

Evidence of all of the above, at minimum, are indicators of management commitment.

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