Content By William A. Stimson, Ph.D.

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By William A. Stimson, Ph.D.


One of the most important objectives of an internal quality audit is measuring the effectiveness of an organization's quality management system. For this to happen, executive management must first meet its overriding responsibility of establishing and maintaining a system regarding quality policy, goals, resources, processes and effective performance--including monitoring and measuring the system's effectiveness and efficiency.

ISO 9001:2000 delineates this responsibility into three distinct areas: 4.1 General requirements, 4.2 Documentation requirements and 4.3 Quality management principles. If an organization's executive management isn't active in these three areas, then they won't be addressed and the quality system will be ineffective. Let's look at them one at a time, first in terms of their meaning and then as auditable characteristics.