The idea behind the term quality management system works very much along the lines of "what doesn't shine on the inside can't sparkle on the outside". Only if your company functions smoothly internally can you meet the requirements of your customers and other important interested parties (stakeholders). High levels of quality require that you not only correct errors in every case, but also prevent their recurrence. A consistently practiced quality management system (also called QM system or QMS for short) can help you do just that.

Quality management system: Process-oriented design and organization 

A quality management system starts at different corners. Your organizational structure, procedures, processes and resources that are necessary to meet the individual quality requirements in your company.

With the help of a professional QMS, you define the framework conditions that enable systematic quality management. By precisely defining the organizational structure and processes as well as the fulfillment of all quality tasks, you ensure that your resources and measures relating to quality can be better coordinated, planned and measured.

You can be supported in this by the internationally valid and recognized "basic" quality management standard ISO 9001:2015, or ISO 9001 for short.  ISO stands for International Organization for Standardization. 9001 is the number of the standard. 2015 means that the standard was last revised in 2015.

This standard for QM systems enables the targeted process-oriented design of all company processes. Taking into account customer expectations, by implementing ISO 9001 you can avoid wasting resources of any kind and subject your processes to continuous improvement in terms of quality.

ISO 9001:2015-11: Quality management systems - Requirements

ISO 9004: Guidance for achieving sustainable success

The ISO 9004 guide also provides support here. The guide is not a stand-alone standard for certification, but helps to achieve sustainable success and determine the maturity level of your quality management system.

In this way, companies that combine the positive effects of both standards can not only make their processes more effective and efficient, but also make everyday work easier for their employees. Work processes simply become more efficient.

ISO 9004:2018-08 : Quality management - Quality of an organization - Guidance for achieving sustainable success.

The quality management system as a management tool

The introduction of any professional management system serves to network link essential business processes and ensure their optimal interaction. This is because problems and opportunities are often hidden precisely in the non-functioning interaction of processes.

Like any management system, quality management is therefore a professional tool for top management. As a management tool, a management system can provide you with the systematic approach to plan, control, monitor and improve processes(Plan-Do-Check-Act model). In this way, you create transparency, reduce complexity in your company, and provide certainty of action.

However, in order to benefit from a management system, desire and will alone are not enough. You must also be consistent and persistent in your work.

 

Quality management system according to the ISO 9001 standard

In connection with quality management, the ISO 9000ff series of standards is of particular importance today. It formulates requirements and provides concrete information on how a quality management system is to be set up and further developed in the sense of continuous improvement.

A professional quality management system consists of several sub-aspects:

  1. All activities and decisions related to quality objectives,
  2. All processes and resources for achieving the objectives, and
  3. All elements and persons for controlling and managing the quality work.

QMS: What is the significance of ISO 9001 for your quality management system?

The ISO 9000ff. series of standards is the best-known and most internationally recognized basis for quality management systems. ISO 9001 formulates quality requirements across industries and for all types and sizes of organizations.

It emphasizes that any company can make "quality" the core of its efforts. ISO 9001 gives you the opportunity to design your management system individually and according to your needs. This is because the standard specifies what is to be regulated within the framework of a QMS. However, it does not say how this should be done.

Each quality management system must therefore be uniquely and precisely tailored to your organization in order to ensure that customer requirements are met. In this way, quality becomes the basis for all your business activities.

Quality management system: requirements of the standard

The standard sets universal requirements for the quality management system:

  1. Entrepreneurial success is based on the principle of continuous improvement according to the PDCA cycle.
  2. The organization needs clear quality objectives and strategies.
  3. Processes must be transparent and efficient.
  4. Results must be measurable and documented.
  5. The management level is responsible for quality.
  6. The entire company and its environment are the focus of attention.

Since its introduction, the standard has been continuously developing. This development makes it clear how much the concept of quality has changed. Whereas in the past the focus was on products and results, today it is on customers and processes.

Fundamental to the implementation of a QM system is to make the organizational structure and business processes transparent. In this way, sources of error can be identified and eliminated. The successful management of a company requires that it is managed and directed in a systematic and clear manner. Helpful here is a management system that helps you continuously improve performance while taking into account the expectations of all interested parties.

To achieve this, ISO 9000 describes the seven principles of quality management:

  1. Customer orientation
  2. Leadership
  3. Involvement of people
  4. Process-oriented approach
  5. Improvement
  6. Fact-based decision making
  7. Relationship management

 

What are the tasks of a quality management system?

The most important task of a quality management system (QMS) is to control the "work for quality". Beyond that, it does more. It...

  1. Describes a company in terms of quality
  2. Identifies opportunities and risks of all company activities
  3. Documents interrelationships and creates knowledge
  4. Links all relevant company departments

Make "quality" the core of your efforts towards the market, customers and stakeholders.

By systematically looking at quality tasks and factors, you will get to know your company from a completely new perspective. Processes and procedures become more transparent and agile. It also responds better to challenges and changes.

A clear picture of an organization makes it easier to fulfill the most important tasks of quality management:

  • Identification and elaboration of all corporate goals
  • Planned coordination of all processes and resources to achieve the objectives
  • Value creation through quality improvement
  • Reliable decision-making for the management level
  • Ability to react to external influences
  • Customer loyalty and employee loyalty

These success factors are crucial for any company. The quality management system provides a clear headline, tangible arguments, and orientation. Quality as an overarching and systemic concept becomes a guiding value to which your organization can align itself.

 

What does a quality management system consist of?

If you want to introduce a quality management system, you must consider your entire organization. Even the description of the current situation clarifies the most important interrelationships for more quality. The following factors are central:

  1. Employees: What function must an employee fulfill with regard to quality? What is their responsibility in the quality process? How can they draw attention to errors without already having a concrete suggestion for improvement at hand? Which measures are important in their area of responsibility?
  2. Processes and activities: How customer and quality oriented does your company work overall? Where is there a need for improvement? Which activities promote the quality goals, which hinder them? How do different processes need to be interlinked? The more clearly and unambiguously the specifications are defined by top management, the more efficiently the processes can be designed.
  3. Methods and procedures: How are quality characteristics determined and evaluated? How can a company maintain and increase their quality? Which measures make sense and have been tried and tested? What ongoing efforts are essential?
  4. Machinery and equipment: Do the equipment and functions meet the requirements for product and process quality? Do the (production) processes mesh perfectly?
  5. Information and knowledge: Do all those involved always have an up-to-date level of knowledge? Can they exchange information without hindrance and find information freely? What about the communication of quality efforts to third parties (stakeholders)?
  6. Organizational units: Are different organizational units connected in such a way that the quality process functions unhindered in all parts of the company?
    Quality management is the holistic view of the entire organization.
  7. Systems: How does your company transfer internal quality processes to other systems (legislators, suppliers, industry partners, etc.) to ensure that quality does not stop at the corporate boundary?

Quality management is the holistic view of the entire organization.

All these aspects play a role. That's why a quality management system is not a question of company size. A QMS always makes sense. However, as a company grows in size and complexity, it becomes more and more crucial for sustainable success. If it is missing, those responsible cannot comprehensively control quality measures.

Every employee in your company should know whether and how they can make a contribution that ultimately benefits the customer. The more strongly the customer's requirements are anchored in the QM system, the greater the system's contribution to success.

Quality: What doesn't shine on the inside can't sparkle on the outside.

What are the advantages of a quality management system?

The systematic alignment and control of corporate procedures and processes leads to greater efficiency and reliability. This is because organizations establish functioning quality management systems that

  • Make organization and processes clear (for the first time)
  • Define clear responsibilities
  • Clarify opportunities
  • Minimize risks
  • Reduce costs
  • Create competitive advantages
  • Generate, distribute and preserve knowledge
  • Improve image
  • Secure future viability
  • Motivate and retain employees
  • Retain and develop customers in the long term.

Before a quality management system can achieve these benefits, you must carefully establish the requirements of the standard in your company. Certification is a good occasion for this.

 

How does the certification of quality management systems proceed?

There are different standards to which companies can have their quality management certified. Among the most common are ISO 9001 as well as ISO 13485 (QM for medical devices) or IATF 16949 (quality in the automotive industry). With a certificate, you can prove that your QMS works, achieves measurable success, and is a living part of your company's development - it's the best proof of your company's quality capability.

For this purpose, a neutral certification body such as DQS audits your quality management system (QMS) and examines it for all aspects that make up a functioning QMS. The certificate is valid for a certain period of time, usually three years. Within this period, monitoring audits are carried out with the particular aim of initiating continuous improvements.

Before the certificate expires, you must undergo a new audit if you wish to continue to hold the certificate. In doing so, you demonstrate that you understand quality management as a comprehensive and continuous improvement process.

Certification takes place in several steps:

  • Information meeting about the certificate, the procedure and the requirements
  • Quote with list of all costs and services of the certification body
  • Optional pre-audit as a trial run and to identify weak points
  • System analysis and evaluation of documentation
  • Comprehensive audit including identification of potential for improvement
  • Evaluation, report and issuance of certificate
  • Annual surveillance audits
  • Recertification

In order to achieve the greatest possible benefit on site, each certification is individually planned by DQS and tailored to the specific circumstances, your goals and success factors. We always start by getting to know each other and providing you with an informative offer without hidden costs.

Would you also like to raise your QM system to a new level? Our experienced DQS experts will be happy to help you.

DQS. Because not all audits are the same.

Do you have questions about the certification of your quality management system according to ISO 9001? Get more information. No obligation and free of charge.

DQS - Pioneer in the certification of management systems

The German Society for the Certification of Management Systems (DQS) was founded in 1985 by DGQ (German Association for Quality) and DIN (German Institute for Standardization) as Germany's first management system certification body.

We are the only major certification body to focus on management systems and processes. Thus, we have been playing a pioneering role for many years. In 1986, for example, DQS issued Germany's first certificate according to ISO 9001, the world's most important standard for management systems.

In 1991, DQS was the first certification body in Germany to be accredited for ISO 9001/2/3 by the then TGA GmbH (today: German Accreditation Body DAkkS). Today, the spectrum of our services covers about 100 international regulations and national standards. Our standards always begin where checklists end. Take us at our word!

 

Expertise and trust

Please note: Our articles and materials are written exclusively by our in-house experts for management systems and auditors of many years. If you have any questions for our authors about the content, please contact us. We look forward to speaking with you.

Author
Ute Droege

DQS expert for quality management systems, long-time auditor and experienced trainer for ISO 9001.

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<p>DQS Expert for ISO 9001 Quality Management</p>