Quality management principles: The foundation for success

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As the business world continues to navigate uncharted waters, companies and organizations of every size face unprecedented pressure. To thrive, they must consistently deliver exceptional quality and customer experience. That means striking a delicate balance: delivering excellence alongside the pursuit of operational efficiency.

To do this, they must be able to lean on a rock-solid foundation, with core principles for quality management built into their processes and culture at every level. These principles enable continual improvement for the benefit of the organization, its people, its stakeholders and its customers.

This article explores how quality management principles can help businesses large and small to:

  • Elevate their ambition
  • Encourage people at every level of the organization to strive for excellence in their work
  • Meet internationally recognized principles of quality management – such as those defined in ISO 9000

What are quality management principles?

Embedded at the core of any quality management system (QMS), quality management principles (or QMPs) are a set of universally applicable principles, distilled from years of theoretical development and practical application. Their structured approach provides guidance for organizations to define objectives, establish processes and develop systems to manage quality.

Adaptable and agile, they aren’t only applicable to particular industries, but instead offer broad applicability and relevance to any organization committed to process excellence. They are as beneficial to the manufacturing and services industries as to non-profit organizations, the public sector and government agencies.

The seven principles of quality management

Developed and updated by ISO/TC 176, ISO’s dedicated group of quality experts, the following core principles of quality management are designed to be used as a guiding foundation to support performance improvement for all organizations.

It is important to note that there is no priority order to the following list. The relevance of each quality principle will vary from one organization to another and can be expected to change or adjust over time, as the journey of an organization evolves.

  • Customer focus: At the heart of quality management is the core aim of meeting customer requirements and striving to exceed the public’s expectations.
  • Leadership: Successful leaders establish a unified sense of purpose and direction. They continuously create the optimal conditions in which employees flourish, gaining motivation and professional satisfaction in the pursuit of quality objectives.
  • Engagement: Inspiring and empowering people at all levels is essential to the value delivery process.
  • Process approach: A well-structured, coherent system is an effective container in which consistent and predictable results can be effectively and efficiently achieved.
  • Improvement: A hallmark of successful organizations is a continuous dedication to improvement, from product or service quality to meeting or exceeding customers’ expectations. Such a commitment is an important driver of sustained growth.
  • Evidence-based decision making: Reliable data analysis and informed, strategic decision making enhance the chances of achieving desired outcomes.
  • Relationship management: The process of building strong, clear and mutually beneficial relationships with all stakeholders and interested parties lays the foundations of sustained success.

Why are QMS principles important?

The cornerstones of building and sustaining excellence, QMPs are essential for several reasons:

  • To establish a quality management culture. Driving quality mindsets empowers every member of the business to understand, value and contribute to the pursuit of quality.
  • To foster consistency. Applying quality principles across an organization promotes consistency in product design, development and delivery. This builds customer trust and public engagement.
  • To facilitate continuous improvement. Highlighting areas for ongoing improvement helps an organization stay relevant in an increasingly competitive global landscape.
  • To promote customer orientation. Translating quality into increased loyalty and market growth turns satisfied customers into brand advocates.
  • To encourage team engagement. Motivating people across all sectors to achieve their highest quality work results in greater workplace satisfaction, team spirit, productivity and staff retention.
  • To reduce risks. Proactively identifying potential problems early limits the likelihood of costly mistakes, customer dissatisfaction and reputational damage.
  • To support competitiveness. Cementing a quality foundation that strengthens an organization’s competitive positioning. This, ultimately, supports the delivery of high-quality products or services.

How should organizations embed QMS principles in their processes?

ISO’s quality management principles are set in place to help organizations develop high-quality products and services that are safe and effective. The QMS principles found in ISO 9000 have been designed to be adaptable and easily tailored to the unique blueprint and challenges of each organization. While the process of integration will differ, they are applicable to organizations of all sizes and types, across different cultures, locations and social conditions.

As the world’s top quality management standard, ISO 9001 describes the basic requirements of a quality management system. Its QMS requirements include a quality manual, quality objectives, organizational structure and responsibility, data management, internal processes, customer satisfaction, improvement opportunities, and quality instruments for measuring progress. It’s about building a solid foundation that allows all processes to come together to ensure quality across a whole organization.

Although adopting QMPs requires an investment of time, effort and discipline, the returns are substantial. They include enhanced performance, heightened customer satisfaction and market success. By committing to these principles, organizations establish a culture of quality that not only improves their products and services, but simultaneously enhances their customer base and safeguards their reputation.

In a world facing global supply chain issues, quality management is a cornerstone of success. It assures customers that even during times where external disruptions are possible, it is safe to invest their trust in a given product or service. The delivery of exceptional quality requires effective and empowered leadership, high employee engagement and satisfaction, enhanced relationship management and resilient decision making.

The road to excellence

By integrating established and recognized quality management principles in the very fabric of an organization, leaders are building a sturdy and resilient foundation that supports the development of high-quality outputs, integrity and reputational excellence.

As a long-established set of principles, QMPs hold timeless value. They serve as a trustworthy roadmap in a global marketplace beset with challenges, lighting the way for organizations committed to enhancing their quality management culture and achieving exceptional outcomes. Ultimately, though, they equip organizations with the agility to respond to customers’ needs, foster innovation, outpace the competition, and secure a leadership role in the market.