Delivering on your aims and ambitions by meeting customer requirements

What is quality management?

What is quality? Is it a Rolex or a Timex? Is it a Rolls-Royce or a Mini? Quality is not about exclusivity or expense. Quality management is about understanding, or exceeding, customer requirements in a structured, codified, systematic and repeatable way.

Applied properly and rigorously, ISO 9001 provides a tool for doing so and a framework for learning and improvement.

What is a quality management system?

The ISO 9001 quality management system is most easily understood as a “book of best practice” for a company or an organisation. Its objective is to provide a proven framework that helps you:

•  Identify risks and opportunities in your marketplace;

•  Identify risks and opportunities in the activities you undertake to deliver value to your customers;

•  Develop a “book of best practice” that assists with the exploitation of these risks and opportunities.

Essentially, the standard adopts the plan, do, study, act (PDSA) which looks to help you improve the way in which your work works. Underlying the standard is a process of creative destruction; the objective of which is to ensure the organisation becomes more efficient and more effective over time.

Obviously, these days however, the “book” of best practice needn’t be a “book”, any quality manual and associated procedures describing how processes work can be retained completely electronically.

The ISO 9001 quality management system provides a framework that asks a company to demonstrate that:

 At the business planning or strategic level, it understands the environment within which it operates and takes action to:

• Mitigate any threats or risks

 Takes advantage of opportunities

•  At the operational level it reviews and takes action on any process risks or opportunities

•  Overall the company can demonstrate continual improvement

What are the benefits of ISO 9001?

There have been many studies into the benefits of ISO 9001. Many of these are by well-known and illustrious bodies for instance Mori and SGS. Interestingly, they all seems to report similar findings. The results below show the benefits found in a study by Research International:

•  Improved profit/reduced costs – 40%

•  Improved managerial control – 86%

•  Improved efficiency – 69%

•  Reduced waste – 53%

•  Improved customer service – 73%

 Improved staff motivation – 50%

Additionally, a lot of government and “Blue Chip” organisations are insisting that companies adopt a formal quality management system prior to appointing them to lucrative contracts.

Sector specific standards

A number of industrial commercial standards have developed their own sectors schemes often based on the hugely successful ISO9001 standard. These standards include:

 Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP), typically used in the food sector

•  TS16949, typically applied to the automotive sector

•  AS9100, the aerospace standard