ISO 9001 principles are the international standard that promotes and defines the criteria for the development, implementation and effectiveness of a quality management system for companies, businesses, and organizations around the world. As ISO 9001 is focused strictly on the standard for quality management systems, its principles apply to a wide range of industries, suppliers, manufacturers, businesses, and services.
ISO 9001 was developed and established by the International Organization for Standardization, an independent, non-governmental international organization whose present membership consists of 167 national standards bodies. Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, the ISO establishes guidelines, requirements and specifications for products, services and systems, to ensure their quality, safety and efficiency. The ISO also works to harmonize its standards with those of the regulatory agencies and bodies around the world.
Conceived to provide an international benchmark for quality management systems, ISO 9001 was a response to inconsistencies that often accompany bureaucratic regulation. One that has a tendency toward a piecemeal approach to address evolving system requirements rather than an overarching consistency that provides uniformity of objectives for quality management systems.
As a quality management tool, ISO 9001 is itself subject to periodic review. First published in 1987, updated versions were published in 1994, 2000, 2008, with the latest edition being ISO 9001:2015. To achieve ISP 9001 certification, a company or organization must go through a stringent application process, meet the criteria as defined in the certification requirements, and then pass the ISO audit. Once passed, the ISO registrar issues an ISO 9001 Certificate that is active for a three-year period.
The standard consists of seven customer-oriented quality management principles (QMP) that ensure quality services and products for customers which, in turn, reward businesses with success. The seven QMPs are customer focus, leadership, engagement of people, process approach, improvement, evidence-based decision making, and relationship management. Let’s take a closer look
1. Customer Focus
The first principle of quality management is customer-oriented. Businesses must not only meet customer requirements but strive to exceed their expectations. Every interaction with customers provides an opportunity to attract and retain their confidence and create more value and satisfaction that can improve loyalty and a company’s reputation. It can enhance repeat business, too, expand the customer base, which can sustain the company through increased revenue and market share.
Effective leadership at all levels throughout an organization gives unity of purpose and direction. It also creates conditions for every employee to be engaged and invested to achieve the company’s quality objectives. Effective leaders better coordinate the organization’s processes, improve communication between levels and functions of departments, and help develop and improve the capabilities of its people to deliver desired results.
3. Engagement of People
The third principle of quality management relates to the positive engagement of the people within the organization. Simply put, respect people as individuals. Throughout all levels of the organization, competent, empowered and engaged people are essential to the company’s success. People who are involved, feel involved and will help the organization achieve its quality objectives. Positive engagement creates a sense of belonging, shared value and culture, increases motivation, enhances involvement and personal development, trust and collaboration throughout the organization.
4. Process Approach
All organizational systems are the result of interrelated processes. In quality management systems, understanding and managing how results are produced enables the organization to operate with increased efficiency and to function consistently, coherently, and predictably. Aligning processes throughout an organization optimizes system performance, ensures maximum use of resources, and eliminates cross-functional barriers.
In quality management, organizations should have an ongoing and continual focus on improving the system. The principle of improvement not only acts to maintain current levels of performance but allows companies to be in a position to react to sudden changes in market conditions and create new opportunities.
6. Evidence-Based Decision Making
In making decisions, analysis and evaluation of data and information are essential for organizations to produce optimal results. Effective decision-making is a complex process that relies on multiple types and sources of data and inputs. There is always a degree of uncertainty when making decisions. However, uncertainty can be managed. Companies guided by QMP avoid potential unintended consequences, have greater objectivity and confidence in outcomes, through analysis of facts, evidence, and data before making decisions.
7. Relationship Management
Managing relationships with interested parties are essential to the ongoing, sustained success of an organization. Interested parties, such as vendors and suppliers, represent a symbiotic network of relationships that greatly influence the performance of a company. In effect, how effectively an organization manages its relationship with interested parties and partner networks can make or break its reputation. To ensure positive outcomes and results, managing relationships with suppliers and partner networks is of particular importance for a company’s sustained success.
James Spring is a manufacturer of springs, wire forms, stampings and subassemblies that has once again achieved the requirements for ISO 9001 certification. Though better quality and higher standards have always been the key to James Spring & Wire Company’s success, its ISO 9001 certification is indicative of the company’s quality management system—one that continually strives to meet and exceed the satisfaction of its customers.