Understanding what the ISO 9001 standard is about
ISO 9001:2015 is an internationally recognized standard for Quality Management System. The standard offers a lot of benefits and implementing ISO 9001 is a strategical decision that organizations take to derive these benefits. ISO 9001 standard is based on 7 Quality Management Principles which, if followed, in letter and spirit can lead organizations to a high level of success.
The Quality Management Principles focus on all three pillars of business: Process, People and Product. It emphasizes on improving your operational processes so that each delivery to the customer meets and exceeds his requirement. It requires active involvement of leadership, relationship management at all levels, and employee engagement to make sure people work together to achieve the business objectives. The principles also focus on measurements and fact-based decision making to improve the quality of the product/service that you are offering. Let’s explore these quality management principles, which are the backbone of ISO 9001, in more detail.
“Profit in business comes from repeat customers, customers that boast about your project or service, and that bring friends with them”— Dr W Edwards Deming
This first principle of Quality Management System requires that the organizations focus on the customer and his/her expectations. Meeting customer requirements and ensuring that the customer gets what he wants is something every organization does. But to survive in today’s competitive environment, going a step further, providing value to the customer and ensuring customer delight is what this principle focuses on. An organization shall understand and capture customer’s requirements, both implicit and explicit, and make arrangements in the processes to meet these requirements. Apart from this, gathering customer feedback, understanding their expectation and providing value to customer ensures that the customer comes back to you for more. A happy customer also ensures you get referrals and enhances your market reputation, which goes a long way.
“It is most important that top management be quality-minded. In the absence of sincere manifestation of interest at the top, little will happen below.” – Joseph M Juran
Leaders are the flag bearers of change required in an organization. Their role in establishing a quality management system and practices in an organization is paramount. This principle emphasizes the role of the leaders in creating a unity of purpose, driving and leading the quality management initiatives and promoting a culture of “Quality First” in the organization. Additionally, leaders need to provide the environment and resources to establish an efficient quality management system in the organization.
Engagement of People
“All anyone asks for is a chance to work with pride.” – Dr W Edwards Deming
People are the most important pillar of an organization. An organization which has empowered and engaged people has mastered the perfect recipe for success. This principle focuses on ensuring people are competent on the basis of their skills, experience and knowledge to ensure they are capable of meeting the customer’s requirements. Apart from this, organizations shall also work on creating engaged teams that create and deliver value to the customer.
“If you can’t describe what you are doing in a process, you don’t know what you are doing.” – Dr W Edwards Deming
A process is a set of interrelated activities which operates using some inputs and provides the desired output. This Quality Management Principle encourages an organization to bring in a process approach to the work. A process should have inputs, set of interrelated activities, and outputs. Measurements are another important aspect of a process. Adequate measurements and controls should also be put in place to ensure that the processes are achieving the business objectives. The processes should be consistent across and should ensure a predictable result.
“The starting point for improvement is to recognize the need.” — Masaaki Imai
This principle focuses on imbibing a culture of continual improvement in the organization. The organization should reflect on its own processes, analyse data and bring in changes in the system to improve its results. Continuous improvement brings in new opportunities and strengthens the organization further.
Evidenced-based decision making
“Without data, you’re just another person with an opinion” – Dr W Edwards Deming
This principle requires that decisions should be based on evidence or facts and not driven by feelings. Mechanisms should be built into the organization to gather data from various sources, analyse the results of this data and make decisions based on this data.
“The result of a long-term relationship is better and better quality and lower and lower cost.” – Dr W Edwards Deming
Strong relationships with your customers, suppliers, employees and other stakeholders goes a long way as each person work towards the achievement of a common goal. Keeping everyone on the same page, creating an understanding of the common goals and values is of paramount importance for a business to work efficiently and perform better with each day.
ISO 9001 standard is based on these extremely important Quality Management Principles which gives a framework for establishing quality management systems within an organization. To leverage all the benefits of ISO 9001, use these principles to build an optimized environment and develop efficient ways of working.
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