The 8 Principles of Quality Management are the foundations that the ISO 9001 certification is built on, developed by ISO/TC 176, an international organisation responsible for maintaining ISO’s quality management standards. For organisations looking to improve their performance, these principles will guide your quality management programme in the right direction.
Principle 1: Customer Focus
As you’d expect, customer focus is the first principle, right where it should be. It covers both customer needs and customer service. This principle stresses that a business should understand its customers, what they need and when. While trying to meet, but preferably, exceed customers’ expectations.
As the business’s ability to spot new customer opportunities and satisfy them improves — customer loyalty increases, revenue rises and waste is then reduced. More effective processes result in improved customer satisfaction overall.
Principle 2: Leadership
Without clear and strong leadership, a business flounders. Principle 2, is concerned with the direction of the organisation. The business should have clear goals and objectives, and ensure its employees are actively involved in achieving those targets.
The benefits are higher levels of employee engagement and increased motivation to satisfy customer needs. Research shows, if employees are kept ‘in the loop’ and understand the business vision, they’ll be more productive. This principle seeks to rectify employees complaints about ‘lack of communication’.
Principle 3: People Involvement
The process approach is all about efficiency and effectiveness. Well-managed processes reduce costs, improve consistency, eliminate waste and promote continuous improvement.
By becoming a more efficient organisation, you will build confidence in your stakeholders by optimising performance. Manage processes by making responsibilities clear and ensuring your resources are used in the best way.
Principle 4: Process Approach
The process approach is all about efficiency and effectiveness. It’s also about consistency and understanding that good processes also speeds up activities.
Great processes reduce costs, improve consistency, eliminate waste and promotes continuous improvement.
Principle 5: Systematic Approach to Management
ISO defines this principle as:
A business focuses its efforts on the key processes as well as aligning complementary processes to get better efficiency. This means that multiple processes are managed together as a system which should lead to greater efficiency.
Principle 6: Continual improvement
This principle is very straightforward: continual improvement should be an active business objective.
The benefits of this are clear: increased ability to embrace new opportunities, organisational flexibility and improved performance. Especially in difficult economic times, the businesses that thrive are those that can adapt to new market situations.
Principle 7: Factual Approach to Decision Making
A logical approach, based on data and analysis, is good business sense. Unfortunately, in a fast-paced workplace, decisions can often be made rashly, without proper thought. Implementing the Quality Management Principles we’ve discussed will allow decisions to be made with clarity.
Informed decisions lead to improved understanding of the marketplace as data is collated and analysed, and the ability to defend past decisions.
Principle 8: Mutually beneficial supplier relations
This principle deals with supply chains. It promotes the relationship between the company and its suppliers; recognising it is interdependent. A strong relationship enhances productivity and encourages seamless working practices.
The result is optimisation of costs and resources, improving and building long-term relationships and the ‘flexibility of joint responses to changing market or customer needs and expectations’.