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The Seven Principles of Quality Management

Preface:

Quality management is becoming increasingly important to the leadership and management of all organisations. It is necessary to identify Quality Management as a distinct discipline of management and lay down universally understood and accepted rules for this discipline.

The ISO has revised the eight principles of quality management, and, the new seven principles of quality management have been published as part of the ISO9000:2015 standard itself. (This article is based on ISO9000:2015). The latest ISO9001:2015 standard is based on these seven principles.

The quality management concepts and principles described here gives an organization the capacity to meet challenges presented by an environment that is profoundly different from recent decades.

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The seven principles are ...

1. Customer Focus

2. Leadership

3. Engagement of People

4. Process Approach

5. Improvement

6. Evidence-based Decision Making, and

7. Relationship Management.

Now let us examine the principles in detail.

Principle 1 - Customer Focus: "The primary focus of quality management is to meet customer requirements and to strive to exceed customer expectations."

Rationale:

Sustained success is achieved when an organization attracts and retains the confidence of customers and other relevant interested parties. Every aspect of customer interaction provides an opportunity to create more value for the customer. Understanding current and future needs of customers and other interested parties contributes to the sustained success of the organization.

Key benefits:

  1. Increased customer value
  2. Increased customer satisfaction
  3. Improved customer loyalty
  4. Enhanced repeat business
  5. Enhanced reputation of the organization
  6. Expanded customer base
  7. Increased revenue and market share

Possible actions:

  • Recognize direct and indirect customers as those who receive value from the organization
  • Understand customersí current and future needs and expectations
  • Link the organizationís objectives to customer needs and expectations
  • Communicate customer needs and expectations throughout the organization
  • Plan, design, develop, produce, deliver and support products and services to meet customer needs and expectations
  • Measure and monitor customer satisfaction and take appropriate actions
  • Determine and take action on relevant interested partiesí needs and appropriate expectations that can affect customer satisfaction
  • Actively manage relationships with customers to achieve sustained success

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Principle 2 - Leadership : "Leaders at all levels establish unity of purpose and direction and create conditions in which people are engaged in achieving the organizationís quality objectives."

Rationale:

Creation of unity of purpose and the direction and engagement of people enable an organization to align its strategies, policies, processes and resources to achieve its objectives.

Key benefits:

  1. Increased effectiveness and efficiency in meeting the organizationís quality objectives
  2. Better coordination of the organizationís processes
  3. Improved communication between levels and functions of the organization
  4. Development and improvement of the capability of the organization and its people to deliver desired results.

Possible actions:

  • Communicate the organizationís mission, vision, strategy, policies and processes throughout the organization
  • Create and sustain shared values, fairness and ethical models for behaviour at all levels of the organization
  • Establish a culture of trust and integrity
  • Encourage an organization-wide commitment to quality
  • Ensure that leaders at all levels are positive examples to people in the organization
  • Provide people with the required resources, training and authority to act with accountability
  • Inspire, encourage and recognize the contribution of people.

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Principle 3 - Engagement of People : "Competent, empowered and engaged people at all levels throughout the organization are essential to enhance the organizationís capability to create and deliver value."

Rationale:

In order to manage an organization effectively and efficiently, it is important to respect and involve all people at all levels. Recognition, empowerment and enhancement of competence facilitate the engagement of people in achieving the organizationís quality objectives.

Key benefits:

  1. Improved understanding of the organizationís quality objectives by people in the organization and increased motivation to achieve them
  2. Enhanced involvement of people in improvement activities
  3. Enhanced personal development, initiatives and creativity
  4. Enhanced people satisfaction
  5. Enhanced trust and collaboration throughout the organization
  6. Increased attention to shared values and culture throughout the organization.

Possible actions:

  • Communicate with people to promote understanding of the importance of their individual contribution
  • Promote collaboration throughout the organization
  • Facilitate open discussion and sharing of knowledge and experience
  • Empower people to determine constraints to performance and to take initiatives without fear
  • Recognize and acknowledge peopleís contribution, learning and improvement
  • Enable self-evaluation of performance against personal objectives
  • Conduct surveys to assess peopleís satisfaction, communicate the results and take appropriate actions.

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Principle 4 - Process Approach : "Consistent and predictable results are achieved more effectively and efficiently when activities are understood and managed as interrelated processes that function as a coherent system."

Rationale:

The QMS consists of interrelated processes. Understanding how results are produced by this system enables an organization to optimize the system and its performance.

Key benefits:

  1. Enhanced ability to focus effort on key processes and opportunities for improvement
  2. Consistent and predictable outcomes through a system of aligned processes
  3. Optimized performance through effective process management, efficient use of resources and reduced cross-functional barriers
  4. Enabling the organization to provide confidence to interested parties related to its consistency, effectiveness and efficiency.

Possible actions:

  • Define objectives of the system and processes necessary to achieve them
  • Establish authority, responsibility and accountability for managing processes
  • Understand the organizationís capabilities and determine resource constraints prior to action
  • Determine process interdependencies and analyse the effect of modifications to individual processes on the system as a whole
  • Manage processes and their interrelations as a system to achieve the organizationís quality objectives effectively and efficiently
  • Ensure the necessary information is available to operate and improve the processes and to monitor, analyse and evaluate the performance of the overall system
  • Manage risks which can affect outputs of the processes and overall outcomes of the QMS.

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Principle 5 - Improvement : "Successful organizations have an ongoing focus on improvement."

Rationale:

Improvement is essential for an organization to maintain current levels of performance, to react to changes in its internal and external conditions and to create new opportunities.

Key benefits:

  1. Improved process performance, organizational capability and customer satisfaction
  2. Enhanced focus on root cause investigation and determination, followed by prevention and corrective actions
  3. Enhanced ability to anticipate and react to internal and external risks and opportunities
  4. Enhanced consideration of both incremental and breakthrough improvement
  5. Improved use of learning for improvement
  6. Enhanced drive for innovation.

Possible actions:

  • Promote establishment of improvement objectives at all levels of the organization
  • Educate and train people at all levels on how to apply basic tools and methodologies to achieve improvement objectives
  • Ensure people are competent to successfully promote and complete improvement projects
  • Develop and deploy processes to implement improvement projects throughout the organization
  • Track, review and audit the planning, implementation, completion and results of improvement projects
  • Integrate improvement consideration into development of new or modified products and services and processes
  • Recognize and acknowledge improvement.

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Principle 6 - Evidence-based Decision Making : "Decisions based on the analysis and evaluation of data and information are more likely to produce desired results."

Rationale:

Decision-making can be a complex process and it always involves some uncertainty. It often involves multiple types and sources of inputs, as well as their interpretation, which can be subjective. It is important to understand cause and effect relationships and potential unintended consequences. Facts, evidence and data analysis lead to greater objectivity and confidence in decision making.

Key benefits:

  1. Improved decision making processes
  2. Improved assessment of process performance and ability to achieve objectives
  3. Improved operational effectiveness and efficiency
  4. Increased ability to review, challenge and change opinions and decisions
  5. Increased ability to demonstrate the effectiveness of past decisions.

Possible actions:

  • Determine, measure and monitor key indicators to demonstrate the organizationís performance
  • Make all data needed available to the relevant people
  • Ensure that data and information are sufficiently accurate, reliable and secure
  • Analyse and evaluate data and information using suitable methods
  • Ensure people are competent to analyse and evaluate data as needed
  • Make decisions and take actions based on evidence, balanced with experience and intuition.

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Principle 7 - Relationship Management : "For sustained success, organizations manage their relationships with relevant interested parties, such as providers."

Rationale:

Relevant interested parties influence the performance of an organization. Sustained success is more likely to be achieved when the organization manages relationships with all of its interested parties to optimize their impact on its performance. Relationship management with its provider and partner networks is of particular importance.

Key benefits:

  1. Enhanced performance of the organization and its relevant interested parties through responding to the opportunities and constraints related to each interested party
  2. Common understanding of objectives and values among interested parties
  3. Increased capability to create value for interested parties by sharing resources and competence and managing quality related risks
  4. A well-managed supply chain that provides a stable flow of products and services.

Possible actions:

  • Determine relevant interested parties (such as providers, partners, customers, investors, employees or society as a whole) and their relationship with the organization
  • Determine and prioritize interested party relationships that need to be managed
  • Establish relationships that balance short-term gains with long-term considerations
  • Gather and share information, expertise and resources with relevant interested parties
  • Measure performance and provide performance feedback to interested parties, as appropriate, to enhance improvement initiatives
  • Establish collaborative development and improvement activities with providers, partners and other interested parties
  • Encourage and recognize improvements and achievements by providers and partners.

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