ISO 9001 is underpinned by the 8 Principles of Quality Management. They’ve been the guiding principles for the most popular quality standard; ISO 9001. But they’re also useful resources for any management professionals who want to implement or improve their existing quality management programme.
Principle 1: Customer Focus
Just as you’d expect, customer focus is the first principle: just where it should be. It covers both customer needs and customer service. It stresses that a business should understand their customers, what they need and when, whilst trying to meet, but preferably exceed customers’ expectations.
As a result, customer loyalty increases, revenue rises and waste reduces as the businesses ability to spot new customer opportunities and satisfy them improves. More effective processes result in improved customer satisfaction.
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 & objectives, and its employees actively involved in achieving those targets.
The benefits are better 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
An organisation is nothing without its staff whether part-time, full-time in house or out-sourced. It’s their abilities that maximised to achieve business success.
Employee motivation and increased innovation and the benefits here. When people feel valued, they’ll work to their maximum potential and contribute ideas. Principle 3 emphasises the importance of making employees responsible and accountable for their actions.
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 define this principle as:
“Identifying, understanding and managing interrelated processes as a system contributes to the organisation’s effectiveness and efficiency in achieving its objectives.”
A business focuses their 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 straight forward: 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 fact paced workplace, decisions can often be made rashly, without proper thought. The efficiency that will have been imbued in the organisation after the implementation of prior principles 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, fostering long term relationships and the ‘flexibility of joint responses to changing market or customer needs and expectations’.