A quality management system, or a QMS for short, is a formalized system that documents processes, procedures, and responsibilities to allow users to create high-quality policies and objectives. It helps coordinate and direct a company’s activities so it can meet customer and regulatory requirements and improve efficiency over time.
Using a QMS is almost always connected to adhering to ISO 9001:2015, an international standard created by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). Sometimes, the term “QMS” is used for ISO 9001:2015 or the documents describing the system. In truth, though, the term refers to the entire system, including the said documentation.
Read More about a Quality Management System
Before we go into the nitty-gritty of QMSs, let’s first define what ISO 9001:2015 is.
What Is ISO 9001:2015?
ISO 9001:2015 specifies the requirements for a QMS when its user needs to show it can consistently provide products and services that meet customer and applicable statutory and regulatory requirements. It aims to improve customer satisfaction through effective QMS application, including processes for system improvement and ensuring conformity to customer and applicable statutory and regulatory requirements.
All ISO 9001:2015 requirements apply to any organization, regardless of the type or size or the products and services it provides.
What Does ISO 9001:2015 Require of a Quality Management System?
An effective QMS should help an organization achieve its overall goals, primarily meeting its and its customers’ requirements. You need to note that every company has unique needs, but all QMSs should:
- Have the organization’s quality policies and objectives
- Adhere to a quality manual
- Have procedures, instructions, and records handy
- Manage data
- Have the company’s internal processes in memory
- Enable customer satisfaction in terms of product and service quality
- Provide improvement opportunities
- Provide quality analyses
What Gave Rise to Quality Management Systems?
The call for quality goods and services heightened with the rise of the Industrial Revolution and standardization. That began centuries ago when craftsmen began forming unions called “guilds.” Early QMSs were used as standards to control product and process outcomes. As more guilds were established to produce more goods, the world needed best practices to ensure high-quality results. These best practices were documented, and the documents were turned into standard practices for QMSs.
But QMSs that addressed the need for sustainability and transparency, which translated to consumer satisfaction, emerged at the beginning of the 21st century.
What Are the Benefits of Using a Quality Management System?
Using a QMS affects all aspects of organizational performance. As such, its benefits include:
- Meeting customer requirements, helping instill confidence in the company and leading to more customers, better sales, and more repeat business
- Meeting organizational requirements, ensuring compliance with regulations and providing products and services in the most cost- and resource-efficient manner, thus creating room for expansion, growth, and profit
- Defining, improving, and controlling processes
- Reducing wastes
- Preventing mistakes
- Lowering costs
- Facilitating and identifying training opportunities
- Engaging staff
- Setting organization-wide directions
- Communicating a readiness to produce consistent results
What Are the Steps in Building and Implementing a Quality Management System?
Creating and using a QMS entails four steps—designing and building, deployment, controlling and measuring, and reviewing and improving.
1. Design and Build
This step involves developing the QMS’s structure, processes, and implementation plans. It is overseen by senior management to ensure the company’s and customers’ needs are considered during the system’s development.
This step breaks down each process into subprocesses and then educates staff on documentation, education, training tools, and metrics. Today, organizations increasingly use intranets in QMS deployment.
3. Control and Measure
This step is accomplished by following routines and performing systematic QMS audits. Each company’s routines and auditing processes, however, vary depending on its size, potential risks, and environmental impact.
4. Review and Improve
This step determines how auditing results are handled. The goals? First, it determines how effective and efficient each process is toward meeting business objectives. Next, it communicates findings to all employees. Last but not least, it develops new best practices and processes based on the data collected during the audits.
Every company that wants to assure customers of the quality of its products and services can benefit from using a QMS.
- A QMS is a formalized system that documents processes, procedures, and responsibilities to allow users to create high-quality policies and objectives.
- ISO 9001:2015 specifies the requirements for a QMS when its user needs to show it can consistently provide products and services that meet customer and applicable statutory and regulatory requirements.
- All QMSs should have the organization’s quality policies and objectives; procedures, instructions, and records; and the company’s internal processes in memory. It must also adhere to a quality manual, manage data, enable customer satisfaction in product and service quality, and provide improvement opportunities and quality analyses.