Quality management systems: An introduction

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How do successful businesses thrive in our ever-more competitive world? Some are driven by a charismatic leader; others rely on the power of the collective. But there is one ingredient which, from corner store to corporate powerhouse, is essential for healthy long-term success. Quality.

That is why effective quality management is an imperative for any successful business today. In our age of innovation and rapidly shifting expectations, keeping pace with the times means committing to a journey of continuous improvement. And achieving this goal requires a foundation of sound quality management systems.

An effective quality management system (QMS) provides the means to consistently meet consumer expectations and deliver products and services with minimal waste. In today’s highly competitive global economy, having a QMS in place is the prerequisite for sustainable success.

What is a quality management system?

In the most simple terms, a quality management system is a clearly defined set of processes and responsibilities that makes your business run how it’s supposed to. Each organization tailors its own QMS, comprising a formal set of policies, processes and procedures established to elevate consumer satisfaction. A QMS guides organizations as they standardize and enhance quality controls across manufacturing, service delivery and other key business processes.

The core benefits of a QMS include:

  • Elevated consistency and standardization of processes and outputs
  • Reduced errors and increased operational efficiency
  • Improved customer satisfaction through the delivery of quality products and services
  • Continuous evaluation and improvement of organizational operations

What is a digital QMS?

A QMS can be delivered digitally rather than using paper checklists and forms. This saves organizations time, mitigates risk and minimizes the chance of human error. Implementing a digital QMS requires meticulous planning and execution, and needs to be designed to comply with relevant regulations and industry standards, incorporating robust digital security measures to protect data.

All of these approaches call for expert guidance.

Types of quality management systems

A QMS may be based on either domestic or international standards. Different QMSs respond to different needs and scenarios, and organizations can choose to implement just one, or integrate a blend of different approaches. Among the most common are:

  • Standardized systems: These set the bar for established standards and agreed-upon codes and practices, such as certifications against ISO standards. ISO 9001 outlines requirements for a comprehensive QMS and provides guidance for organizations looking to implement or improve their quality management strategy.
  • Total quality management (TQM): TQM is a management philosophy centred on customer satisfaction through the active participation of every employee. Its goal is to support the continuous improvement of quality across all levels and business functions.
  • Lean management: Inefficiencies can result in unnecessary waste. Lean management strives to maximize customer value while minimizing waste using tools like value stream mapping, which helps fine-tune an organization’s processes for optimum efficiency.
  • Six Sigma: Although perfection is almost impossible to reach, the pursuit of it is still worthwhile. Six Sigma uses data-driven techniques in the pursuit of producing near-perfect products and services, with a defect rate of 3.4 per one million opportunities. While that’s not perfect, it is pretty close.

© https://www.iso.org/quality-management/what-is-qms