One method to define an organization’s approach to reliability is to create a reliability manual. Many organizations already have a quality manual as required for ISO 9000 or similar certification. Reliability may be a section of the larger quality manual or simply integrated into the same document.
The manual may include information about:
- Reporting structures
- Specific procedures
- Specific standards
- Internal documents related to reliability, as necessary
The reliability manual provides the framework and basic guidance for the organization related to reliability. The manual may include information on establishing reliability goals, specific elements for project milestones, monitoring techniques, and fundamental approach to failure analysis and customer support.
The reliability manual should include as a minimum the following:
- Reliability Policy – a short document from senior management setting the strategic approach to achieve reliability objectives. The policy may outline the connection between customer satisfaction, product reliability, and warranty.
- Reliability Procedures – The manual may outline specific procedures, thus providing a consistent definition and techniques across the organization. Examples may include how to establish a specific project’s reliability goal, environmental testing procedures, and field failure data collection and analysis methods.
- Standards and Specifications – basically a list of applicable standards and specifications.
- Procedures for design reviews and test procedures – primarily for the tasks regularly accomplished thus ensuring consistency. The test procedures should not be a fixed list of tests to always accomplish, just the test method for when it is appropriate to conduct in a particular situation.
- Roles and Responsibilities – details on who manages and maintains various programs, projects, procedures, and protocols.
The reliability manual provides just enough information to guide the teams as they create reliable products.
It also forms a tangible element of the organization’s approach, best practices, and policies concerning reliability.