Some organizations consider quality management to be needless overhead, a duplication of efforts – in other words, a waste of time and resources. Maybe those organizations had a bad experience trying to implement a quality management system, or QMS. When a company has a bad experience with ISO 9001, it is often because they’re involved for the wrong reason. A customer prefers to work with “ISO 9001 Certified” vendors and we’re not one of those, so if we’re going to keep that customer, we’d better get certified – and the sooner, the better!
Sometimes, an organization will get an impression of quality management systems and ISO 9001 certification based on secondhand “information”. They empathize with the storyteller and use their story to excuse themselves from the odious chore of building and maintaining a QMS. Instead of asking questions, they take anecdotal evidence at face value.
Maybe we just don’t understand what a QMS is. Well, for starters, a quality management system isn’t an add-on, it’s not a vestigial appendage, and it’s not an extra layer of bureaucracy
Here are just five reasons why quality management is important to your business:
- It isn’t just about manufacturing
- It is sound, practical business management
- It reduces waste
- It helps reduce risk
- It is good for your customers
1. Quality Management Isn’t Just For Manufacturers Anymore
True, the roots of quality management are in manufacturing. That’s probably why people often say to me, “ISO 9001? That’s for manufacturing, isn’t it?” However, the application of quality management principles isn’t limited to manufacturers. Far from it!
The newest version of the quality standard, ISO 9001:2015, goes further than any previous version to dispel the notion that ISO 9001 is just a manufacturing standard. Previously, there was one brief mention of service, so it’s easy to understand why many companies have that misunderstanding. Now, however, the phrase “products and services” is repeated numerous times throughout the standard. For many more organizations, the service is the product.
Whether your organization provides a service or a product, the quality management principles outlined in ISO 9001 are applicable to your situation.
2. Quality Management Is Sound Business Management
ISO 9001, titled “Quality Management Systems – Requirements”, is based on sound, fundamental principles of business management. ISO – the International Organization for Standardization – didn’t rewrite the rulebook of business. It merely codified and organized common ground rules. ISO developed a standard that any organization, wherever it’s located and whatever its product, can use to fairly compare itself with other like businesses.
Complying with ISO 9001 doesn’t mean you fundamentally alter the business. You continually improve the way you do business.
3. Quality Management Reduces Waste
A quality management system, when developed, implemented, and maintained correctly, leads to greater efficiency and effectiveness throughout the organization. Quality management recognizes that all resources are finite and that, therefore, reducing waste helps stretch available resources further. Quality management looks for process inefficiencies and ways to reduce or eliminate those inefficiencies.
4. Quality Management Can Help Reduce Material Risks
What is a “material risk”? A material risk is one that is more likely than not to happen and, when it does, could have a significant adverse impact on your business. (An unhealthy work environment is a material risk; a “Sharknado” is not.) ISO 9001:2015 calls for organizations to apply risk-based thinking to quality management. The concept of risk-based thinking is woven throughout the latest revision of ISO 9001.
Your organization has to collectively determine what threats pose the greatest risk to its well-being and what, if anything, you can and should do to control them. A proper quality management system will help you deal with the right risks in the right way.
5. Quality Management Is Good for Your Customers
No requirements are more stringent than those of your customers, and nothing is more important to your organization’s welfare than keeping your customers happy and coming back for more of your products and/or services.
This is why customer focus and customer satisfaction are prominently featured in ISO 9001. An effective quality management system puts the customer first and foremost. And that’s the way your customers like it, guaranteed.
To Sum It Up
Quality management isn’t just for manufacturing processes. It is sound, common-sense, time-tested management principles. It helps you manage your costs more effectively by helping you identify and reduce waste.
Quality management also helps you manage risks more effectively, and it keeps you focused on the most important business requirements, those of your customers.
Any questions about quality management? If so, don’t hesitate to contact me.
 One line in (clause 2 of) ISO 9001:2008 reads “…wherever the term ‘product’ occurs, it can also mean ‘service’.”
 It used to be limited to a couple of clauses in the standard, corrective and preventive action.