Quality Principles of ISO 9001: 2015

The 9001 Standard is based on these 7  key principles of quality management.  

The principles underpin the Standard throughout, so it's worth spending a bit of time thinking about them and their meaning.  You can use these principles in any quality system to improve it, quite regardless of whether or not you seek ISO 9001 certification.  The formal definitions for the principles are listed in ISO 9004 (Fundamentals and Vocabulary).  Although I've used the term 'business' for simplicity, it is equally applicable to any organisation, whether a commercial business or not.

Customer focus
You need to understand who your customers are, what they need, and aim to meet their needs.  At times you may even exceed them, but you must at a minimum meet them. Knowing what your customers need should be critical to your strategy, because without customer satisfaction, a business will eventually fail.  Or at best stand still.

Leadership
The strategy, direction and ultimate success of any business largely depends on its leadership.  What is the environment and culture that they encourage (or, more negatively, allow)? A clearly communicated vision and purpose on the part of management is key to ensuring business improvement.

Engagement of people
The people in any organisation make a difference, whether in the 'front line' of customer services or sales, or behind the scenes.  They should be activiely engaged and involved in the quality management system for it to succeed. 

Process approach
Almost all business (or organisation) activities are part of one or more processes:  when you manage activities as processes (versus departments or isolated tasks) are more effective and achieve better results. 

Evidence-based decision making 
Decisions that are based on sound evidence and data are more effective. Those that are based on woolly ideas, knee jerk reactions or ad hoc things on the fly are not.

Improvement
Improving is essential - a permanent element of any organisation that wants to do well, let alone excel. 

Relationship management 

Identifying and managing important relationships yields good results which benefits both parties. 

References  These principles are listed in ISO 9000 Quality Management Systems - Fundamentals and vocabulary.  If you read Annex B in ISO 9004 (2009): Managing for the Sustained Success of an Organisation, you'll find a slightly different set, until ISO 9004 is updated to be compatible with the 2015 version of ISO 9001 (currently it matches the earlier one, the 2008 one). 

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