Any responsible organisation will naturally be mindful of the importance of doing everything it can to ensure the quality of its products and services is as consistently high as possible. But if this describes the situation of your own organisation, how can you ensure this so that you can be confident of your customers’ needs and expectations always being met?

One step you can take towards this goal is the implementation and refinement of the right quality management system, or QMS, which is a collection of business practices geared towards consistently fulfilling the requirements of customers and improving their satisfaction.

If your business has any interest in quality management systems, it is likely to have at least heard of ISO 9001. So, what exactly is ISO 9001, and what principles underpin it?

ISO 9001 quality management principles

What is ISO 9001?

ISO 9001 is the best-known international standard for quality management systems. As the name suggests, ISO 9001 is published by the International Organization for Standardisation (ISO), which develops and publishes standardisation across a vast range of technical and nontechnical fields.

If, then, a given organisation is seeking a performance or quality standard, it is likely to turn to ISO. ISO 9001, in turn, is part of the ISO 9000 family of quality management standards.

ISO 9001 is designed to help businesses prevent quality issues that could otherwise impact on customers, employees, business partners, and even the given business’s broader industry. It sets out the criteria for a quality management system, so that organisations of all shapes, sizes and sectors can put in place a uniform, well-organised, and process-driven approach to the governance of quality and control objectives. This, in turn, can help deliver continual improvement.

What are the requirements of ISO 9001?

Although it isn’t necessarily a requirement to be certified to ISO 9001 – many organisations simply aim for compliance with this standard – if you do seek to achieve and maintain an ISO 9001 certification, you will need to fulfil various specific requirements. These include:

  • Context of the organisation. As set out in Clause 4 of ISO 9001, there is a need to set a goal and strategic direction for your organisation’s QMS – taking into account the internal and external factors that influence quality, and your customers’ preferences and needs.
  • Leadership. How committed are the top managers of your organisation to the achievement of a successful QMS? Do they accept responsibility for developing a QMS and performing periodic evaluations? These are the questions addressed by Clause 5 of the standard.
  • Planning. Clause 6 of the standard requires organisations to record potential threats – noting their severity and the likelihood of them materialising – as well as make plans to guard against unfavourable consequences.
  • Support. If your organisation is to execute an effective QMS, it will need to provide appropriate resources for this. This is covered by Clause 7 of the standard.
  • Operation. The operation aspect of the standard can be found under Clause 8, which defines the given organisation’s work to produce and provide its clients with products and services.
  • Performance evaluation. Your organisation will be mandated by Clause 9 of ISO 9001 to measure and analyse its operations, before documenting the results to show that it meets the requirements of the standard.
  • Improvement. Any organisation aspiring to achieve ISO 9001 compliance or certification should also strive for continual improvement. This work should include the implementation of measures to improve goods, services, and client satisfaction.

Why is ISO 9001 important?

With ISO standards being globally recognised and renowned, achieving compliance and even certification for ISO 9001 could be an extremely powerful move for your organisation.

It would signal to potential and current clients or customers that you adhere to a standard set of long-established practices. That could help you achieve greater market share, put in place quality fundamentals, and implement effective arrangements for constant improvement in the quality of what your organisation does.

In short, ISO 9001 compliance could be transformative for your business, supporting its sales, revenue and growth.

What are the main principles of ISO 9001?

ISO 9001 centres on a range of fundamental principles of quality management, including:

  • A focus on the customer. Every move that you make to improve what your organisation does should be made with the achievement of the utmost customer satisfaction in mind. This should include systematically logging customer complaints and taking appropriate corrective action.
  • Leadership. There are two things that leadership under ISO 9001 is based on: a clear vision of the future of the business, and the ability to communicate this vision. If you can see the direction of your organisation, this will help you ensure everyone in the broader company is pulling towards the same goal.
  • A process-based approach. You can achieve more predictable and consistent results for your organisation when you put in place a process that has already been proven to deliver positive results, and that is controllable and repeatable.
  • The engagement of people. Your company is much more likely to achieve its goals if it engages its people and gets all of them to buy into your process. As part of this, you should help give your employees a strong understanding of the role they will play in improving your firm’s operations.
  • Continual improvement. Is your organisation constantly on the lookout for opportunities to optimise its products, services, and processes? Are you regularly evaluating the needs of your customers and your process improvement activities? Commitment to constant improvement is a key component of ISO 9001 compliance.
  • An evidence-based approach to decision-making. Every decision that your company’s team members make should be as informed as possible by the available evidence. That evidence must take the form of up-to-date, detailed, and factual information, so that you can be sure of your staff consistently making the best business decisions.
  • Relationship management. The strains of recent times have shed even greater light on the importance of organisations doing everything possible to protect their supply chains. You can help ensure this for your own business by establishing and maintaining optimal relationships with relevant partners such as vendors, suppliers, resellers, and investors.

How can audit management software help achieve and maintain ISO compliance?

Whether your organisation is seeking to achieve ISO compliance with the requirements and principles of ISO 9001, or even go as far as ISO 9001 certification, it can be significantly assisted in this goal by the right software package.

Our Vision Pro platform can be provided with an audits management module that will help you undertake the internal audits that are essential for ensuring compliance with ISO 9001. It will aid you in streamlining your company’s auditing processes, through perks and features such as the ability to host all your auditing templates or question sets in one place, and clear and easy-to-use dashboards.

The Vision Pro audits module makes it easy for organisations to schedule inspections or maintenance checks, and to maintain strong general visibility of what works need to be undertaken – as will be crucial when you are striving to achieve and maintain ISO 9001 compliance.

Would you like to learn more about how your organisation’s ISO 9001 compliance processes could be made so much more efficient and easier to manage with the help of Vision Pro software? If so, please don’t hesitate to call us to book your demo and request further information.