5.5.2 Management Representative – ISO Explained

By Scott Dawson
May 8, 2021

Quality Management Representative Duties and Responsibilities

Leadership. Direction. Coordination. Communication. Coaching. All terms that could describe the critical role of the Management Representative (MR) in an ISO 9001 quality management system. Just as the point guard on a basketball team is responsible for setting up plays for his teammates, the MR is an enabler of the quality system. But don’t confuse responsibility for enabling the quality management system with developing and implementing the quality management system.

Top management is responsible for filling positions with the right personnel for ISO MR responsibilities. These individuals must in turn facilitate management and standards compliance on several key levels. As an MR ISO, the QMR representative has a wide range of responsibilities to help ensure the proper implementation of the quality management system. From monitoring to reporting, they must maintain seamless operations to help your entire business move forward. When addressing these requirements, it’s critical that personnel understand their responsibilities in the company.

 

QMR Job Description

According to updated ISO 9001:2015 standards, an MR for ISO certification is no longer mandatory. However, establishing a trusted management member to serve as an MR is critical for streamlining operations and maintaining quality standards. The 2008 version of ISO 9001 laid out criteria for the MR to meet. You can use these standards as an excellent starting point for integrating an MR into the top management team required in section 5.3 of the 2015 version.

The MR must be “a member of management” serving primarily as the “eyes” and “ears” of top management to monitor how well the quality system is developed and implemented. The MR primarily provides feedback to top management on the effectiveness of the quality management system.

“The Management Representative primarily provides feedback to top management on the effectiveness of the quality management system.”

The MR might want to be careful not to insolate top management from their responsibilities. Top management perhaps risks taking a “backseat” role in the operation of the quality system by delegating implementation responsibility to the “quality guy” (or gal). The result of this separates the real authority in the organization from the responsibility (i.e., accountability) for quality, including conformance of the QMS leading to lower effectiveness and efficiency overall.

That said, the effective MR will accept the responsibility and exercise the authority of enabling the proper functioning of the QMS to meet its objectives.

These duties may include:

  • Ensuring that processes needed for the quality management system are established, implemented and maintained,
  • Reporting to top management on the performance of the quality management system and any need for improvement, and
  • Ensuring the promotion of awareness of customer requirements throughout the organization.

Let’s look at each of these individually.

 

QMR Responsibility to Ensure Implementation

The first responsibility of the MR is to ensure that all necessary QMS processes are adequately defined, deployed, and continually kept up. The MR generally takes the role of project manager for the design and implementation of the QMS. They often coordinate with project teams, which define processes relating to their areas of responsibility and involving appropriate functional managers. The MR may also coordinate or provide training to the employees developing the QMS processes and related documentation to ensure an adequate understanding of what is required.

As processes are defined and documented, the MR may also oversee the document control function as it pertains to the control of QMS documentation. This oversight will ensure that the processes are effectively described in terms that will satisfy all requirements. This quality control process is crucial to demonstrating your business’s continued compliance with ISO 9001 standards and high output quality.

Finally, the MR is often the coordinator of the internal auditors who monitor the compliance and effectiveness of the QMS. The effectiveness of the audit program is essential to the MR’s ability to ensure proper implementation and maintenance of the required processes. Top management as a whole is responsible for managing, reporting and identifying opportunities for improvement, and the QMR can lead this effort for continual evaluation and growth.

 

Reporting Results

Beyond overseeing the implementation of the QMS, the MR is also responsible for reporting on the effectiveness and needed improvements of the QMS to top management for review and action. One means of reporting is the distribution of internal audit reports to the appropriate functional managers and tracking open issues through successful resolution.

The other primary means of MR reporting is by taking the role of facilitator for the management review. This can include:

  • Establishing the management review schedule
  • Developing the management review agenda
  • Coordinating the reporting of results
  • Guiding the discussions through the agenda
  • Suggesting necessary improvements to the QMS
  • Publishing minutes of the management review

Effective and clear reporting will give top management the information needed to manage and improve the QMS effectiveness.

 

Ensuring Awareness

The third primary responsibility of the MR is to ensure they clearly communicate customer requirements throughout the organization so all employees are aware of specifications that pertain to their job responsibilities.

This does not necessarily mean that all communications must come directly from the MR. Instead, the MR must monitor how effectively this communication takes place and identify breakdowns that need to be addressed.

This duty of ensuring employee awareness has been frequently criticized as being too open-ended to be practical. What specific “customer requirements” must employees be “aware” of? Must all employees be aware of all customer requirements? What criteria are used to assess whether this communication has been effective?

 

Questions and Examples

As with many areas of the new standard, the use of general (aka “open-ended”) language leaves the interpretation open for the company to define for their own unique needs. Since the MR is responsible for ensuring this awareness of requirements, they might start by defining which customer requirements need to be addressed to which employees.

Here are some leading questions that might help you get started:

  • What requirements are explicitly stated by our customers? How? In what format? Including specifications, purchase orders, quality criteria and other documented criteria.
  • What might be considered a customer requirement because of our advertised promises? Consider proposal details, quotations, catalog specifications, warranties and return policies, and marketing materials.
  • What requirements might our customers imply as just doing good business (delivering on time, prompt, accurate communications and reliable packaging)?

 

Evaluating Communication Performance

Optimizing communication is key to enhanced performance, productivity and quality output across any enterprise. The MR can take a leading role in coordinating communication efforts and ensuring team members and top management have a shared understanding of quality metrics and requirements.

Once you have a list of customer requirements, you can associate them with the employees that affect the company’s ability to meet the requirements. Then the question must be asked, “How does this employee become aware of this requirement?” By asking “how?” the MR will be able to evaluate the communication processes that are in place (or not in place) to ensure that the requirement awareness is maintained. Examples of the types of communication processes that might be used include:

  • Standard meeting agendas
  • Routing sheets for specifications
  • Approvals
  • Standard distribution lists
  • Employee bulletins
  • Procedure reviews
  • Controlled wall postings
  • Data charts showing the company’s performance against requirements
  • Employment handbooks
  • Electronic workflows

You can expand this list based on your company’s unique circumstances. By focusing on communication processes and ensuring these processes are defined and implemented (including, perhaps, being subject to auditing), the MR can ensure effectiveness and repeatability throughout the organization. Keep in mind, though, that the MR’s direct responsibility is to “ensure” that the communication takes place and that it is effective, not necessarily to provide all the communication directly.

 

Quality Liason

Working and communicating with external parties is another key function of the MR. The MR must manage responsibilities and meet requirements while also maintaining clear lines of communication with others regarding the system. Another suggested duty for the MR is to serve as a liaison with external parties on matters relating to the quality management system. This position can include coordinating audits with customers or your ISO registrar or other quality-related communications that may be needed.

 

Roles and Responsibilities of an ISO QMR

In summary, an MR for ISO standards has several responsibilities, including:

  • Ensuring implementation and maintenance of key standards and guidelines.
  • Reporting back to top management on performance metrics and output data.
  • Promoting awareness of regulations and expectations across the organization through strong communication and messaging.
  • Serving as a quality liaison with external parties regarding the QMR.

 

Are You Up for the Job?

What characteristics and skills might you need to be an effective Management Representative? Here are some ideas:

  • Strong knowledge of ISO 9001 requirements
  • Broad knowledge of your company’s operation and its QMS
  • Ability to listen and influence
  • Ability to summarize information and communicate effectively
  • Project management and organizational skills

The Management Representative can play a critical role in your company’s QMS. The more clearly you understand the responsibilities being asked of you, and the more clearly the rest of the organization understands your role, the more effective you can be. As your small business continues to grow, managing these key requirements will be vital to main consistent quality output and productivity across the organization. Meeting the QMR job description requires a consistent commitment to organization, accountability and oversight for teams across the enterprise.

 

Consult With Core Business Solutions

If your small business is seeking to obtain ISO 9001 certification, Core Business Solutions is your trusted partner. As an experienced consulting services provider, we offer extensive expertise to help you navigate key requirements. We started as a small business ourselves, so we understand the inside requirements of our clients.

When you work with Core Business Solutions, we’ll help you navigate technical specifications with our four-step process, guiding you through planning, implementation, review and ultimately certification. You can be confident that we’ll help your business prepare for your final audit and achieve the respected ISO certification you need. We’re committed to helping small businesses gain a competitive edge and demonstrate their commitment to quality with compliance to the global standard. We’ll help your business move forward step by step.

Whatever your requirements and business objectives, we’re here to help fellow American business strengthen their position in the market. To get started with us, request a quote today.

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