Reducing Errors in a Management Review
As an auditor for two certified bodies, I have seen that even the most well planned and well-thought-out management reviews can become ineffective when actually conducted. Very often, incorrect or irrelevant data becomes information, is not presented to senior management in a readable fashion, does not include actions that have been taken or will be taken in the future, or assigns the correct responsibilities ensuring an effective quality management system. When this happens, errors can occur and risks to the management review process itself may not be identified. This is true regardless of an organization having a certified quality management system or following other regulatory requirements.
Risks to the management review process which can lead, or be preferenced by errors, that can be easily identified include the following:
  1. Senior management not present
Although there is no requirement of many standards that “require” senior management to be present, there is a requirement for top management to review the organization’s quality management system periodically, although this is not necessarily in the form of a meeting. The risk here is when senior management is not present, executive decisions cannot be made regarding problems and issues, changes to quality objectives, needed resources, or supervision not being held responsible for identifying the needs and resources required to maintain and effective quality management system.
  1. Reviews occurring infrequently
Management reviews, more often than not, occur annually. The major risk associated with a review with such a gap is that issues associated with management review may not be addressed when they have to be unless daily, weekly, or monthly meetings augment the management review. All too often, results from an internal, customer, or certification audit are not reviewed in a timely manner. Additionally, there is a risk of not adequately responding to a crisis either at hand or a crisis that should have been noted in more frequent management reviews.
  1. No established agenda
The lack of an agenda could mean not all required items of the management review are addressed and items such as nonconformities and other significant issues are not presented to top management. The lack of agenda also does not hold managers or process owners accountable to report to top management. The agenda should be sent out by the management review facilitator well in advance of the management review with the requirements and information needed and what media the information will be presented. This diminishes the amount of potential errors in the information. The risk here is that items which should be reported, particularly trends, are not addressed.
  1. Lack of process ownership when reporting
The presentation of information to top management should not be the responsibility of one individual (i.e. quality manager, management representative) but of management from all areas covered by the scope of the quality management system. Those reporting to management should only be reporting that information of the processes they are responsible for within the quality management system and have knowledge of what they are reporting to top management. Where required, either by previous actions or current knowledge, the process owners should report all issues that are affecting product, services, or resource requirements. The risk here is that management or supervision loses control of processes and cannot link process outcomes to quality objectives or key performance indicators.
  1. Insufficient or irrelevant information presented
All too often, information is presented to top management in the form of data which has to be read to be understood. Additionally, important information may be missing (i.e. job openings, new hires, need for resources in specified areas). Top management needs pertinent information to make informed decisions that show both improvements of previous actions taken and errors that may currently be hurting the organization. The risk here is that any actions or decisions made by management may be based on faulty information or even opinion. Information must be factual in order for all decision making by top management to be evidence-based.
  1. Lack of support for management review facilitator
The management review has to be supported by all levels within the organization which are part of the quality management system. Attendees at management review have to be ready to present their information as noted by the facilitator prior to the review. It is a good idea to have all information presented to top management in the same manner. All information should be forwarded to the facilitator in advance of the review. In order to minimize the risk of erroneous information, rehearsing of what will be presented to the facilitator is recommended.
It does not take much to make management review ineffective but the risks noted above should be acknowledged to make the review of the quality management system effective and reduce errors in reporting outcomes.
13 Replies
Very nice summary of common management review problems. Our agenda template is lifted from the standard itself. This forces us to address each critical issue. 
Thank you for sharing your insight and presenting it in a wonderful summary that I can take and use in my work.
Have a great week!  
David Hehir
23 Posts
Very good content and summary.

It will be interesting to track the impact of this years virtual audits on each one of these items.  With the company I am at we had a very successful internal audit this year.  Successful as defined by we experienced a number of findings and process improvements as a result.  This audit began in a virtual format and expanded to a non-virtual one.   
Thanks William - Good article . Well done.

One common issue is that the  middle management does not often highlight the crucial issues to the upper management .

They try and protect  their  job and people around them . 
Your summary of management review risks provides good guidance for someone developing and maintaining a Management Review program. Thanks for your post - very informative.
Hello William,
Good Morning.
Very important aspect, rather heart of QMS.
Here are my two cents.
I am a Lead Auditor with a global certifying body.
Senior management is present in the Management Reviews. Even with Covid 19 they lead the proceedings by using Skype or WebEx.
Reviews occurring at least once a year, sometimes more times too.
With the ISO 9001:2015 and family of standards lot of improvements have been done by the companies I have audited, in the agenda and the minutes of Management Reviews domain.
Management Review is taken by the leadership and middle management as an important KPI benchmarking tool.
Thanks very much.

Best Regards, 
Girish Trehan 

QMS Lead Auditor-independent contractor
Partial-Load Professor, Sheridan College 
ASQ Education Chair Section 0402

My 0.02$ ...
I have found that the Management Review becomes ineffective when it is treated as an "activity" and not a "process". How many times have you seen that the action items from the previous Management Review meeting were completed the week leading up to the current meeting (similar to the flurry of activity before an Internal Audit)

In my opinion, .. it is noted in #2 above - "Reviews occurring infrequently" ... I got around this problem by implementing regular, scheduled updates as well as a simple but efficient and effective dashboard to follow-up action items and bring up new items throughout the year.
Luigi Sille
244 Posts

@William Hackett

Great content

@William Hackett Great summary, just completed our annual management review meeting a few days ago and this is so relatable. Thank you for sharing

@William Hackett Well said and very true. The one that hit home the most for me was #4.

Lack of process ownership when reporting

The presentation of information to top management should not be the responsibility of one individual (i.e. quality manager, management representative) but of management from all areas covered by the scope of the quality management system.

I have struggled with getting participation from other areas and haven't found a good way to resolve it. Upper management is very supportive of the process so no issues there; the struggle is with lower management of an area covered by the scope of the quality management system. It takes a team; not just the Quality Manager for this process to be effective and worthwhile.

@William Hackett
Good morning,

I agree, this is a very nice summary of common management review problems. As a new member of the upper management team at my company that is currently working on obtaining ISO certification, I would like to use these points to drive the importance home to the team on the importance of holding regularly scheduled, meaningful, and productive management review meetings.

Thank you again for your InSite, and have a wonderful holiday season.

Jose Perez
9 Posts

@William Hackett These are right on the money! And they are all rooted in the perception of lack of value and consequent lack of commitment to the management system. Management chooses to view it as cramping their style and telling they how to run their business, instead of adding what they feel is missing and aligning elements of the management system standard to it. Quality professionals have four choices: (1) ignore reality until it affects their job situation (2) keep trying new ways to drive the missing alignment and commitment (3) find a more supporting organization (4) start a career in a different field