Quality management can be broken down into seven essential principles that are necessary for success. In fact, the seven principles of quality management are all clearly laid out in a set of codes called ISO 9001. Read on to discover exactly what ISO 9001 is, what the seven principles of quality management are, and why quality management matters to all businesses.
What is ISO 9001?
ISO 9001 is an overarching set of principles that help businesses meet quality management standards to ensure that customers are receiving satisfactory and consistent goods and services.
This set of quality management standards applies to businesses in all industries. There are also subsets of ISO codes that apply to special industries such as medical devices and railways.
The Seven Principles of Quality Management
As laid out in ISO 9001, the seven principles of quality management are:
- Customer focus
- Engagement of people
- Process approach
- Evidence-based decision-making
- Relationship management
Instead of focusing on the nitty-gritty of creating and upholding quality standards, These principles focus on the building blocks that it takes to create a culture of quality management at every level of the organization.
Customer focus is key to the mission of quality management. Without loyal customers, businesses can’t stay afloat, which is why customer satisfaction should be the ultimate goal of every business’s quality management system.
Gathering customer feedback can help a company identify areas where your business can improve, creating a positive cycle of feedback and improvement. Higher customer satisfaction also means more sales and greater profits, improving the business’s bottom line.
If the leaders of a business don’t believe in quality management or don’t make it a strategic priority, then the quality management initiatives will fail. That’s why leadership is the second principle of quality management laid out in ISO 9001. Dedication to quality management must come from the top of the organization.
Strong leadership means that the C-suite and other supervisors are setting the organization’s goals for quality management and creating a culture of quality from the top-down. Without a strong vision for quality management from leaders (not to mention a budgetary commitment), businesses will fall short of their quality management goals.
Engagement of people
Engagement of people refers to having employees at every level of the organization who are committed to meeting the company’s quality management standards and delivering goods or services that result in a high level of customer satisfaction.
Because entry-level and mid-level employees are the ones actually responsible for executing the quality management directives, getting them on board is extremely important for carrying out quality management strategies and implementing quality management systems. If leadership covers the “top-down” portion of quality management, then engagement of people is the “bottom-up” portion of creating a culture of quality.
Process approach refers to seeing a business as a series of interconnected processes rather than separate departments or silos. It means focusing on the dynamic business processes rather than individual positions, team divisions, and other static elements.
This process approach encourages efficiency, contributes to better resource management, and helps support continuity when team members move on and have to be replaced. When combined, all of these factors contribute to better quality management and also a more flexible business that can respond quickly to market changes.
Companies never “arrive” or fully achieve their goals when it comes to quality management. Instead, they must reject complacency and be engaged in an ongoing focus on improvement, which is what this principle refers to. When they achieve one quality management goal, companies who are serious about quality management will simply create another, more far-reaching target, so the metaphorical goalposts are always moving.
This focus on continual improvement also helps companies to stay competitive and continue delivering goods and services that satisfy customers. Customers will take their business to the companies that are continuing to improve, so companies must focus on pushing their standards for customer success.
Evidence-based decision-making means making decisions based on facts, data, and observation rather than unsupported assumptions. Fortunately, quality management software allows companies to make evidence-based decisions quickly.
While there will always be some level of uncertainty when it comes to setting business strategies, following an evidence-based approach will help reduce the levels of uncertainty and give business leaders more confidence in the accuracy of their decisions. This is related to quality management because more accuracy in business decisions translates to higher quality goods and services and in turn, better customer satisfaction.
If relationship management sounds more relevant to sales than to quality management, think again. Quality management requires maintaining healthy relationships with all stakeholders—not only customers, but also suppliers, vendors, and distributors as well.
Just because these third-party partners are not technically part of a company does not mean that their actions aren’t going to impact that company’s ability to meet its quality goals and satisfy its customers. Cultivating strong relationships with these outside partners and getting them to understand the vision for quality management is key to achieving quality goals.
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