Quality management: The path to continuous improvement

When considering how a business operates, the initial things that likely spring to mind include the usual processes and departments: product development, sales, marketing, HR, and more. However, it’s important to recognize that each of these areas is influenced by an overarching system that is often underestimated – the quality management system, or QMS.

At its core, quality management is about creating a culture of excellence that permeates every facet of a company’s operations. It helps drive continuous improvement, establish compliance with regulatory authorities, while ensuring that quality is built into every aspect of your product or service. This, in turn, results in increased customer satisfaction, loyalty and, most importantly, repeat business.

Because a QMS operates quietly behind the scenes, there are many misconceptions about what it does. Let’s delve into what a quality management system is, what it should look like and why your company absolutely needs one.

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What is a quality management system?

A quality management system is a collection of processes and procedures which ensure your business runs as intended and continuously delivers high-quality products and services that meet regulatory and customer requirements.

Quality is defined as the “degree to which a set of inherent characteristics of an object fulfils requirements” [ISO 9000:2015, 3.6.2]. Going by this definition, a QMS is the mechanism that optimizes the ability of your products and services to meet the expectations of the people that buy and use them. A well-integrated QMS improves communication, collaboration and consistency across your organization, while also reducing waste and promoting continuous improvement.

ISO 9001 is one of the world’s most widely recognized quality management systems. It helps companies and organizations of all sizes and sectors streamline their core quality management processes, improve performance and demonstrate their commitment to quality. The standard is based on a process approach, which involves planning what to do, doing what was planned, checking the outcomes, and then acting on those findings to make further improvements.

Interested in learning more? Discover what is a quality management system and how it can work for you.

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What are quality management principles?

A QMS is a dynamic system that evolves over time through a process of continuous improvement. Its primary objective is to fulfil – and go beyond – customer expectations. In addition to the principle of “customer focus”, ISO 9001 is built around seven quality management principles – or QMPs – that guide a company’s processes towards improved performance. No one principle is more important than another, and all work together to ensure the quality of a company’s output.

QMPs are a set of fundamental beliefs, norms, rules and values that are accepted as true and can be used as a basis for quality management. They are not specific to any industry or sector and can be adopted by any company striving for excellence in its processes. Whether in manufacturing or services, non-profits, government or private enterprise, QMPs are invaluable to improve performance, reduce waste, prevent errors, cut costs – and, ultimately, enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty.

So how do QMPs work, and what can they do for your business? All the answers about quality management principles can be found in our dedicated article.

Understanding quality assurance and quality control

Quality assurance and quality control are two aspects of quality management that are often used interchangeably, yet they are two quite different things. While quality control involves inspecting the actual products or services in the field, quality assurance is about reviewing the delivery process of services or the quality management manufacturing of goods. Both use different techniques, tools and phases to achieve their goals.

By inspecting your goods or services from the outset, you can catch errors before they reach the customer, then refine your processes to prevent glitches in the future. To be effective, quality assurance must be completed regularly through independent audits.

Curious to know more? Here’s your guide to better understanding quality assurance and quality control.

The power of quality management software

As the name suggests, QMS software is a quality management platform that helps organizations manage and document quality processes to ensure their products and services meet high standards of quality and customer expectations. It enables all sectors of an organization – product development, quality control, quality assurance, regulatory affairs, or any other department – to manage their quality processes in a structured and consistent way. What’s more, the software helps streamline and automate mundane tasks, freeing up quality teams to focus on more strategic quality initiatives.

There are many QMS software products available on the market, each with different features, benefits and pricing. Not all QMS solutions are created equal, however; the one that is right for you depends on your industry and the specific goals of your business.

Still need convincing? Read on and tap into the power of quality management software.

Excellence in quality management

Quality management systems come in various guises, but they all share the same set of characteristics. They aim to identify potential hazards early in the process and to improve them over time. Determining which is the right QMS for you can be a complicated process and depends on your company’s unique needs and objectives.

Developed by a team of quality experts, ISO 9001 offers a route for businesses that want to run a quality system based on international best practice. As the leading standard within the ISO 9000 portfolio, its core focus is on quality assurance, customer satisfaction, and a commitment to continual improvement, making it an indispensable tool in the modern business landscape. And with regular and independent reviews, it will help your company demonstrate that it takes quality seriously and is continuously striving for quality excellence.