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What is a Quality Management System? - Part 1

The purpose of a quality management system is to ensure every time a process is performed, the same information, methods, skills and controls are used and applied in a consistent manner.

Ask yourself the following questions about your business:

  • Do the same mistakes keep on being repeated?

  • Is there lack of visibility between each of your departments or functions?

  • Do you have a high customer churn rate, negative customer reviews or perhaps a declining bottom line?

If you answered yes to any of the above, then you should really look at putting a Quality Management System in place.

The purpose of a quality management system is to ensure every time a process is performed, the same information, methods, skills and controls are used and applied in a consistent manner. If there are process issues or opportunities, this is then fed into the quality management system to ensure continuous improvement.

The fact is that ISO 9001 ticks two major boxes when it comes to choosing a QMS - it’s simple yet effective.

It’s based on a plan-do-check-act methodology and provides a process-oriented approach to reviewing the structure, responsibilities, and procedures needed to achieve effective quality management in any organisation.

The standard requires that there is a quality management system in place with certain control mechanisms that guarantee quality of provision. These can be generally broken down into:

  • Requirements for a quality management system, including company and customer requirements, planning and determining process interactions

  • Responsibilities of management

  • Management of resources, including human resources and an organisation’s work environment

  • Product or service realisation, including any steps from design (if applicable) to delivery

  • Measurement, analysis, and improvement of the QMS through activities like internal audits and corrective and preventive action

A big part of ISO 9001:2015 is about how to plan to continually improve your organisation, and one of the areas you’ll have to look at will be an assessment of the context of your organisation.

Among other things, a context assessment is really about ‘getting under the skin’ of looking at (bluntly) ‘why people buy’ - at least, buy from you. Buying a product or service can be seen as a problem-solving or desire-satisfying process, in which customers seek to match its attributes with their needs or wants. In this process, they look at the available products or services to see which is most likely to offer the benefits they seek.

There are five elements that customers take into account when considering quality. They can be thought of as five questions:

Specification: ‘What can I expect when I buy or use the product or service?’ The specification should enable potential customers to determine whether the product is likely to meet their needs.

Conformance: ‘Will it do what I expect?’ Any shortfall in conformance to the specification or customer requirement is bound to lead to dissatisfaction.

Reliability: ‘Will it continue to do what I expect?’ Clearly, customers will value a car that always starts first time.

Delivery: ‘When can I have it?’ It is important to distinguish between two aspects of delivery: availability and dependability. Availability is about when something will be ready for a customer. Dependability is concerned with the adherence to a delivery or attendance time once that is agreed.

Cost: ‘How much do I have to pay?’ A purchase is as an exchange, in which a customer obtains goods or services by offering something of value in return. Customers will be satisfied if the price they pay, whether in money or in some other form, equates to the value they place on the goods or service.

Article originated in The Ideas Distillery blog

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