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The Seven Quality Management Principles

Shopping for a standard

ISO defines the seven Quality Management Principles as “a set of fundamental beliefs, norms, rules and values that are accepted as true and can be used as a basis for quality management”.

ISO 9001, which is the internationally recognised Quality Management System standard, is based on the seven quality management principles which are:

  1. Customer focus.
  2. Leadership.
  3. Engagement of people.
  4. Process approach.
  5. Improvement.
  6. Evidence-based decision making.
  7. Relationship management.

These principles were developed over a period of 35 years and are not arranged in order of importance – they are considered equally important to running a good quality management system. They are applicable to both product- and service-based organisations and can be used as resources by management professionals looking to implement a new quality management system or improve an existing one. Each principle is elaborated on below:

QMP 1: Customer focus

Considering the goal of an organisation is to provide products and services to its customers, focus must be placed on meeting customer requirements and striving to exceed their expectations. An organisation can achieve success when it attracts and retains the confidence of its customers. Additionally, each interaction a business has with its customers presents an opportunity to provide value. For the organisation to place its focus firmly on the customer, it can link its objectives to the needs and expectations of its customers and measure customer satisfaction.

The benefits of focusing on the customer include:

  • An increase in customer satisfaction.
  • An influx in repeat business.
  • An increase in revenue.
  • A larger customer base.

QMP 2: Leadership

The second quality management principle focuses on leadership and the direction of the organisation. Having said that, the business must have clear objectives in place to ensure the active involvement of its employees in achieving those targets. For a better chance of success, top level management must be actively involved in the organisation’s quality management system. Additionally, the organisation’s mission, vision, strategy and policies must be clearly communicated, and a culture of trust and integrity must be established within the business. Furthermore, everyone within the organisation must be committed to quality.

The benefits of creating a quality culture include:

  • A higher level of communication between levels and functions of the business.
  • An improvement in the organisation and its employees’ capabilities to deliver good results.
  • A higher level of employee engagement and motivation.

QMP 3 Engagement of people

This principle evaluates employee performance and enables learning, brainstorming and knowledge sharing.

Competent, engaged and empowered people at all levels of an organisation are required in order to create and deliver value to its customers. To effectively and efficiently run a business, a sense of mutual respect must be established between management and employees. To achieve this level of engagement, the organisation must promote collaboration between employees and management, encourage employees to take initiative, and conduct regular surveys to assess worker satisfaction.

The benefits of engaging people include:

  • An organisation-wide understanding of its quality objectives and an increased motivation to achieve goals.
  • A higher level of involvement of workers in improvement activities.
  • An increase in employee creativity, initiative and satisfaction.

QMP 4: The process approach

The process approach is a management system that is all about efficiency and effectiveness. Great processes improve consistency, promotes continuous improvement, and reduces costs. Quality management systems consist of interrelated processes and the process approach is used by managers to control these processes and the interactions between them. Working to control and improve individual processes can be easier and more effective than to manage the entire system at once. By understanding how the system produces results, the organisation can improve its performance. To achieve success – authority, responsibility and accountability for managing processes must be established.

The benefits of the process approach include:

  • An increased focus on key processes and opportunities for improvement.
  • Consistent and predictable outcomes.
  • Enhanced business performance through the effective management of processes, efficient use of resources, and reduced cross-functional barriers.

QMP 5: Improvement

For an organisation to remain successful and maintain its current levels of performance, its focus must be on ongoing improvement. In a competitive and ever-changing market, businesses without the goal of continuous improvement will be overtaken by its competition. To reach its goal, the organisation must ensure the competence of its employees to successfully promote and complete improvement projects. Once all employees are competent, to ensure employee satisfaction, improvement must be recognised and acknowledged.

The benefits of ongoing improvement include:

  • An improvement in process performance and organisational capabilities.
  • An increase in customer satisfaction.
  • The ability to predict, prevent and react to internal and external risks.

QMP 6 Evidence-based decision making

Organisations will be better able to meet its business objectives by basing decisions on facts and data analysis. In a competitive market, businesses must avoid making important decisions on a whim – decision-making often involves multiple types and sources of information. To enable fact-based decision making, ensure that data is accurate, reliable, secure, and available to all parties. Data must be analysed using suitable methods and ensure that the people who analyse and evaluate data are competent.

The benefits of fact-based decision-making include:

  • An improvement in the decision-making process.
  • Improved operational effectiveness and efficiency.
  • The ability to demonstrate the effectiveness of previous business decisions.

QMP 7 Relationship management

To ensure its ongoing success, organisations must uphold good relationships with interested parties. Retaining these relationships influence business performance. To ensure effective relationship management, identify who the interested parties are i.e. suppliers, customers, partners, investors etc. and determine how important their relationship with the organisation is.

The benefits of relationship management include:

  • A mutual understanding of the goals among interested parties.
  • A well-managed supply chain that generates a stable flow of products and services.
  • An increased ability to create value for interested parties.

These seven quality management principles form the basis of ISO quality management standards. While each organisation is different in terms of its industry and unique business challenges, understanding these principles will help to effectively implement quality standards.