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Explaining the Basics of ISO Standards: ACT

How do you make effective, accurate and wise decisions in the ACT step of the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle?

In the last three posts, we’ve explained the ideas and practice behind the ISO standards use of the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle. You can read more about planning and the PDCA cycle is on our website, Plan-Do-Check-Act.

Review of Data

All the data you accumulated throughout, and especially in the CHECK step – measurements from the system plus the internal audit findings – flows into a formal management review conference. The ISO standards list requirements for this meeting, in clause 9.3, Management Review. There is a long list of inputs to this meeting, much of which we’ve already listed for you previously, but can be reviewed in ISO 9001:2015, clause 9.3.2.

This meeting can be held once per year, twice per year, quarterly, or even more often, depending upon your organization. Some companies do weekly or monthly managers’ meetings in which current operations and statistics are brought up. However, most of those meetings are so focused on the “current” issues that there isn’t sufficient breathing space to get the overview, which is what this more formal meeting is designed to dig into.

The meeting can be attended by any layer of management that is appropriate, however, “top management” is required by the ISO standards to be involved in this analysis and the decisions that come from it. These cannot be handed off to junior managers or line leaders, but are part of the responsibility of top management as evidence that they are truly involved in the quality management system.

The ‘outputs’ from that meeting are decisions and actions, based on what’s been considered, to continue with quality improvement. This is the ACT (sometimes called ADJUST) step of PDCA.

In each future meeting, you will review the results of the plans for these changes and improvements that you decided in the last meeting. So it’s important to keep the list lean and get them done. Of course, if there are obstacles or other unforeseen problems that keep you from managing those planned improvements, then those should be listed, and perhaps even perform a root cause analysis on why those things came up to keep you from improving.

Helpful tip: unless you’re in a crisis where a dozen matters must be corrected “right NOW,” we suggest you choose one, perhaps two, improvement projects for the next 6 months or so until your next review conference. If you choose more, you may find that you don't have enough resources to complete them all, and they will just get carried over to the next meeting instead of being resolved.

Ready to move forward with ISO certification? Need internal auditor training, or a management-level overview session? Please contact us for a free quotation!


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