What are the 7 quality management principles?

quality management

What are the 7 quality management principles?

The ISO committee has been developing guidelines and principles for businesses of all sizes since its establishment in 1947. The goal of these principles is to prevent businesses from making fatal mistakes like failing to meet customer expectations, failing to satisfy customer needs, and losing valuable relationships with suppliers and third parties.

Businesses of all kinds have benefited from the ISO committee’s guiding principles. In 2015, the committee established seven “quality management principles” in preparation for ISO 9001:2015. 

The previous principles were set-out in the 1990s and looked at businesses from a philosophical perspective. The principles looked at customer needs, expectations, and satisfaction. 

While the quality management principles for ISO 9001:2015 also look at business in a similar fashion, we now have the fresh perspective of a new millennium, new customer needs and expectations, and new ISO requirements which must be adhered to.

So what are the 7 quality management principles?

  1. Customer focus
  2. Leadership
  3. Engagement of people
  4. Process approach
  5. Improvement
  6. Evidence-based decision making
  7. Relationship management.

In this blog, we’ll be diving deeper into each of the ISO committee’s quality management principles and highlighting the benefits of introducing them into your new or existing quality management system.

#1. Customer Focus

don’t just guess what your customers want

Image: Unsplash

The first principle is clear and crucial. Businesses cannot exist without their customers, which is why business owners should have a deep understanding of their current and future customers’ needs, meet their requirements, and strive to exceed their expectations. 

Having a laser focus on customer needs and reacting to customer demands can easily improve market share, boost revenue, and encourage customer loyalty – no matter what industry you’re in – so be sure to pay attention to customer feedback, products, and services in demand, and improve output based on this demand.

#2. Leadership


Image: Unsplash

Your business relies on having an established vision for the future – and a well-executed plan to get there. This quality management principle outlines the importance of leadership within the workplace – team members in top management positions who can establish purpose and direction throughout the rest of the team.

Leaders should cultivate a productive and progressive work environment, where everyone can be involved in achieving the business’ goals. It’s all about finding the right person for the job from day one. 

#3. Engagement of people 

team working together on a project

Image: Unsplash

Earlier in this article, we said businesses cannot exist without their customers. In the same vein, businesses cannot exist without a motivated and multi-skilled team, either.

Team members at all levels of the business are essential for the business’ success. As a business owner or member of the leadership team, it’s important to recognise the value of each and every team member, along with their individual responsibilities. 

When employees understand the importance of their role and how it fits into the wider business, they will have a better understanding of how to achieve the business’ end goal and eliminate problems that might stop them from doing their job to the best of their abilities.

#4. Process approach

workflow diagram

Image: PerkBox

A better result can be achieved for your business through effective planning and processes. From production to sales and marketing, team training, human resources, and safety inductions, there will be less confusion and room for mistakes through ongoing process creation, refinement, and improvement. 

This quality management principle can even help future-proof your business, like if a supplier or key team member leaves the business. You won’t be left in the lurch, confused, or left empty-handed – you’ll already have a proactive plan in place to keep business moving along as per usual. 

In the 2020s, many businesses have been able to bounce back from the impact of COVID-19 through preparation and well-planned processes. It’s clear to see the benefits of process management!

#5. Improvement

measuring improvementImage: Unsplash

Successful businesses have an ongoing focus on improvement – whether it’s improving revenue, customer satisfaction, market share, output quality, or even expanding the business over time. 

Focusing on improvement and results can help maintain current performance, determine how to react to change, and create new opportunities for the future. Here are a few simple steps to help refocus your business on improvement, based on ISO recommendations:

  • Track, review, and audit the results of improvement projects
  • Establish improvement goals across all aspects of the business
  • Educate and train team members on how to achieve improvement goals
  • Consider how you can improve products, goods, and services
  • Recognise and reward improvement.

#6. Evidence-based decision making

decision making in progress

Image: Unsplash

Making a decision always comes with some uncertainty. However, decision-making based on data and information is more likely to achieve the desired outcome, whatever that means for your individual business.

It’s important to make decisions for your business based on the facts, plan potential changes, and record the effectiveness of these changes. This can help demonstrate the effectiveness of past and future business decisions and improve overall efficiency. 

With this in mind, work through the decision-making process using the PDCA (plan, do, check, act) cycle. Plan what’s going to happen, execute the plan, check the results, and if further changes are needed, act on them. 

PDCA chart

Image: Kanbanize

#7. Relationship management

business meeting in progress

Image: Unsplash

For sustained success, you will also need a significant focus on the relationships you hold with interested parties like suppliers and partnership networks. Ongoing success and growth is more likely to be achieved with positive, reliable relationships at your back – and these relationships can be mutually beneficial. 

For example, cultivating a positive relationship with suppliers can develop a flow of reliable goods and services exchanged between businesses, and investors can sit back and watch their investment grow in market share over time while you have the funds to continue operating.

Here are some tips for managing relationships, according to the ISO committee:

  • Determine and prioritise interested party relationships that need to be managed
  • Establish relationships with short term gains and long term considerations
  • Share information and valuable resources with interested parties
  • Measure performance and provide updates to interested parties
  • Establish collaborative development and improvement projects with said parties
  • Encourage and recognise the improvements of interested parties.

How can BusinessBasics can assist with your quality management system

Businesses of all shapes and sizes can benefit from the ISO committee’s principles of quality management – from small local businesses to large government agencies.

But where to start? 

At BusinessBasics, we have a team of expert ISO 9001:2015 compliance consultants who have specific experience in your industry. We can help with the simplification and implementation of the ISO committee’s quality management principles and ensure you are compliant with ISO 9001 certification standards.

To prepare you for ISO 9001 certification, we will complete an in-depth review of your existing quality management system, processes, and documentation against ISO standards, then identify areas of improvement. We can even help design, implement, and train your team in your new quality management principles to achieve compliance without a hitch.

Contact the team at BusinessBasics for more information today! We have experts ready and waiting to help you achieve the success you desire.