8 Quality Management Principals

The 8 Quality Management Principals are considered to be the pillars for the effective implementation of Quality Management system (ISO 9001). Organization should understand the importance of these and should try to implement them in true sense. These will not only help in effective and efficient implementation of ISO 9001, but also help in overall performance of the organization.

Principle 1 – Customer Focus

customerOrganizations depend on their customers and therefore should understand current and future customer needs, should meet customer requirements and strive to exceed customer expectations

‘Customer is the king’, this is the very first thing that comes to my mind when I think about this principle. Whatever processes an organization has established, documented or is maintaining, should be aligned the customer requirements. So the focus of every organization should be to understand not only the current requirements but also to identify and understand the futuristic or coming requirements. This will help the organization to provide the solution or service which will satisfy the current requirements but will also help the organization in designing the solution or service in such a manner that in future requirements will also be provided in effective and efficient manner. Organization should always elucidate and document the stated and implied needs to the customer. By doing this organization will have customer that are not only satisfied but also delighted.

There are various quality management tools/ methodologies which can help in institutionalizing this principle within an organization. Examples are brainstorming, KANO Model and Quality Function Deployment (also known as House of Quality), etc.

GandhiHow important it is for an organization to have focus towards the customer and how old the intent of this principle is can be realized by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948) quote

  “A customer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favor by serving him. He is doing us a favor by giving us an opportunity to do so.”

Key Benefits (include but not limited to):

  • Satisfied Customer
  • Repeat Business from the customer
  • Recommendation from the satisfied customer

Principle 2 – Leadership

Leaders establish unity of purpose and direction of the organization. They should create and maintain the internal environment in which people can become fully involved in achieving the organization’s objectives.

 “Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.” — Warren Bennis

 Different people have different meaning or interpretation of ‘Leadership’.

 According to http://dictionary.reference.com

  • the position or function of a leader, a person who guides or directs a group
  • ability to lead
  • an act or instance of leading; guidance; direction
  • the leaders of a group

Following is purport of ‘leadership’ for me….

The purpose of leadership within an organization should be to give a vision and mission to the organization, keeping all the stakeholders in mind. Based on the organization vision and mission, the Business Objectives are defined at the organizational level. These Business Objectives gives the employees a sense of unity of purpose and direction and therefore these should always be shared with the employees.

It’s the responsibility of the leadership to develop internal environment or the organizational culture in such a manner that each and every individual right from bottom to top is encouraged and motivated towards the achievement of organizational/business objectives.

Key Benefits (include but not limited to):

  1. Goals at all the levels will be aligned with the Business Objectives (in tern with Vision and Mission).
  2. Employees will be motivated towards the Business Objectives.
  3. Miscommunication with respect Business Objectives (organization’s future) will be reduced

Principle 3 – Involvement of people

People at all levels are the essence of an organization and their full involvement enables their abilities to be used for the organization’s benefit.

Organization is a group of people organized for some end work (http://dictionary.reference.com/).

‘The achievements of an organization are the results of the combined effort of each individual.‘- Vince Lombardi

An organization can be considered as a collection of sub-organizations which in tern can be considered as a group of individuals with complementary skills, organized (a team) for some specific objectives. So complementary skills or individual abilities when used in an efficient manner will always result in achievement of goals or objectives.

Organizational leadership should use each and every individual’s ability for organization’s benefit. One of the best examples of involvement of people in organization’s benefit is ‘Quality Circle’.

One thing we should always remember that no organization can survive without the involvement and commitment of every individual in the organization.

Key Benefits (include but not limited to):

  1. Employees will share knowledge and experience
  2. Employees will take the ownership of the problems and will be eager to take initiatives to resolve them
  3. Employees will feel recognized for their efforts

Principle 4 & 5 – Process approach & System approach to management 

A desired result is achieved more efficiently when activities and related resources are managed as a process.


Identifying, understanding and managing interrelated processes as a system contributes to the organization’s effectiveness and efficiency in achieving its objectives.

A process is a set of activities which are interrelated in order to use resources to transform inputs into outputs. When the activities/tasks are managed as a process, organization identifies the interaction and interrelation between the actives/tasks, which in tern help to sequence the activities/tasks.

The collection or group of interdependent processes is called a system and has been beautifully explained by ISO 9001 family of standards. In a system, output of a process may become the input for another process.

An organization is like a system which has various sub-systems or processes, so in order to achieve the Business Objectives, these sub-systems or processes have to work in harmony.

Lean when used along with process approach & system approach helps in identifying the activities which are required or mandatory, required but not mandatory and not required (waste or muda). 

For example if we take software development scenario, then software development life cycle can be considered as a system whereas Requirement Development, Software Designing & Software testing is example of process approach.

Key Benefits (include but not limited to):

  1. Every activity or tasks being done in the organization shall have an input and output, whether tangible or intangible
  2. Roles and Responsibilities will be clearly defined
  3. Reduced ‘muda’ or ‘waste’
  4. Predictable outputs
  5. Accountability of result will be there

Quality Management Tools (include but not limited to):

  1. Flow Chart
  2. Affinity Diagram
  3. Relationship Matrix or Diagram
  4. Tree Diagram

 Principle 6 – Continual Improvementfootprint

Continual improvement of the organization’s overall performance should be a permanent objective of the organization.

I heard someone saying ‘Quality is a Journey, Not a Destination’, and I truly believe in this statement. Organization should not stop after achieving a target; they should always look for opportunities of improvement in the organization’s overall performance as there is always a scope of improvement.

Organization should focus on the continual improvements of its product/services and process. Organizational process should be aligned with the organization objectives and employees should be encouraged/motivated to report flaws and look for areas of improvement. Newly appointed employees have a different perspective and if they have prior experience of another organization what better then that.

Continual improvement is achieved through breakthrough projects or on-going incremental projects. For breakthrough project (like Business Process Reengineering) dedicated task forces can be established by the organization whose sole purpose will be to look for opportunities for improvement and to work on it. Projects like on Six Sigma and Lean methodology have proved in continually improving organization performance.

Key Benefits (include but not limited to):

  1. Highly motivated employees
  2. Continual improvement to the business
  3. Recognition from the customer
  4. Will have quantitative targets for improvements
  5. Employees will be trained on tools and methodologies helpful in process performance

Quality Management Tools (include but not limited to):

  1. PDCA Cycle or Deming Cycle
  2. Statistical Control Charts
  3. Benchmarking

Principle 7 – Factual approach to decision making 

Effective decisions are based on the analysis of data and information.

measurement1Fact (data) based decision making is the key to ensure customer (internal & external) satisfaction and overall improvement in the organizational performance.

According to Craig Mundie (Head of Research and Strategy, Microsof), “Data is becoming the new raw material of business”.

Information which is in the form of quantitative data if used as a raw material or as an input of decision making process will surely have higher probability to success than the decision that is being made based on intuitions or gut feeling. To make fact decision based, it is very important for an organization to generate right quality and quantity of data at right place (i.e. measurement system should be implemented).

This principal encourages an origination to do quantitative or statistical analysis based on data before making any conclusion or decision at any level within the organization.

Key Benefits (include but not limited to):

  1. Informative decisions are made
  2. Employees will have confidence in the decision
  3. Higher probability of success

Quality Management Tools (include but not limited to):

  1. Pareto Analysis or 80-20 rule.
  2. Cause-&-Effect Diagram
  3. Histogram or Bar Chart.
  4. Statistical Tool: Hypothesis Testing

Principle 8 – Mutually beneficial supplier relationships 

An organization and its suppliers are interdependent and a mutually beneficial relationship enhances the ability of both to create value.

smile1An organization and its vendors/suppliers are mutually dependent on each other hence there should always be a cordial/favorable or win-win relationship between each other. Organization may always take some steps towards development of their suppliers as the organizations product/service is always dependent on it.

Organization may understand the processes going on at the supplier end and help them in optimizing the results. Also organization may train and have meetings with the suppliers to make them understand their requirements which in term will help them in product realization. Many times organization enforces or motivates their suppliers to take a further step toward process improvement through quality management system implementation, if the supplier does not have it.

Key Benefits (include but not limited to):

  1. Recognition from the supplier
  2. Improved quality of service or raw material from the supplier
  3. Transparent Communication