Quality Assurance System Excellence: The Key Principles

Quality Assurance System Excellence: The Key Principles

Quality Assurance Excellence is becoming increasingly important to the leadership and management of all organizations. It is necessary to identify Quality Management as a distinct discipline of management and lay down universally understood and accepted rules for this discipline.

The ISO technical committee working on the ISO9000 standards had published a document detailing the quality management principles and application guidelines. (This article is based on the mentioned document). The latest revision (version 2008) of ISO9000 standards are based on these principles.


Link to Useful Quality Management Solutions


Definition of Quality Management Principle:

“A quality management principle is a comprehensive and fundamental rule / belief, for leading and operating an organization, aimed at continually improving performance over the long term by focusing on customers while addressing the needs of all other stake holders”.


The key principles are …

1. Customer-Focused Organization

2. Leadership

3. Involvement of People

4. Process Approach

5. System Approach to Management

6. Continual Improvement

7. Factual Approach to Decision Making and

8. Mutually Beneficial Supplier Relationships.


The principles in detail.

Principle 1 – Customer-Focused Organization: “Organizations depend on their customers and therefore should understand current and future customer needs, meet customer requirements and strive to exceed customer expectations”.


Steps in application of this principle are …

Understand customer needs and expectations for products, delivery, price, dependability, etc.

Ensure a balanced approach among customers and other stake holders (owners, people, suppliers, local communities and society at large) needs and expectations.

Communicate these needs and expectations throughout the organization.

Measure customer satisfaction & act on results, and

Manage customer relationships.


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.”


Steps in application of this principle are …

Be proactive and lead by example.

Understand and respond to changes in the external environment.

Consider the needs of all stake holders including customers, owners, people, suppliers, local communities and society at large.

Establish a clear vision of the organization’s future.

Establish shared values and ethical role models at all levels of the organization.

Build trust and eliminate fear.

Provide people with the required resources and freedom to act with responsibility and accountability.

Inspire, encourage and recognize people’s contributions.

Promote open and honest communication.

Educate, train and coach people.

Set goals and targets, and

Implement a strategy to achieve these goals and targets.


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”.


Steps in application of this principle are…

Accept ownership and responsibility to solve problems.

Actively seek opportunities to make improvements, and enhance competencies, knowledge and experience.

Freely share knowledge & experience in teams.

Focus on the creation of value for customers.

Be innovative in furthering the organization’s objectives.

Improve the way of representing the organization to customers, local communities and society at large.

Help people derive satisfaction from their work, and

Make people enthusiastic and proud to be part of the organization.


Principle 4 – Process Approach : “A desired result is achieved more efficiently when related resources and activities are managed as a process.”


Steps in application of this principle are …

Define the process to achieve the desired result.

Identify and measure the inputs and outputs of the process.

Identify the interfaces of the process with the functions of the organization.

Evaluate possible risks, consequences and impacts of processes on customers, suppliers and other stake holders of the process.

Establish clear responsibility, authority, and accountability for managing the process.

Identify internal and external customers, suppliers and other stake holders of the process, and

When designing processes, consider process steps, activities, flows, control measures, training needs, equipment, methods, information, materials and other resources to achieve the desired result.



Principle 5 – System Approach to Management : “Identifying, understanding and managing a system of interrelated processes for a given objective improves the organisation’s effectiveness and efficiency.”


Steps in application of this principle are …

Define the system by identifying or developing the processes that affect a given objective.

Structure the system to achieve the objective in the most efficient way.

Understand the interdependencies among the processes of the system.

Continually improve the system through measurement and evaluation, and

Estimate the resource requirements and establish resource constraints prior to action.


Principle 6 – Continual Improvement : “Continual improvement should be a permanent objective of the organization.”


Steps in application of this principle are …

Make continual improvement of products, processes and systems an objective for every individual in the organization.

Apply the basic improvement concepts of incremental improvement and breakthrough improvement.

Use periodic assessments against established criteria of excellence to identify areas for potential improvement.

Continually improve the efficiency and effectiveness of all processes.

Promote prevention based activities.

Provide every member of the organization with appropriate education and training, on the methods and tools of continual improvement such as the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle , problem solving , process re-engineering, and process innovation.

Establish measures and goals to guide and track improvements, and

Recognize improvements.


Principle 7 – Factual Approach to Decision Making : “Effective decisions are based on the analysis of data and information.”

Steps in application of this principle are …

Take measurements and collect data and information relevant to the objective.

Ensure that the data and information are sufficiently accurate, reliable and accessible.

Analyze the data and information using valid methods.

Understand the value of appropriate statistical techniques, and

Make decisions and take action based on the results of logical analysis balanced with experience and intuition.

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.”

Steps in application of this principle are …

Identify and select key suppliers.

Establish supplier relationships that balance short-term gains with long-term considerations for the organization and society at large.

Create clear and open communications.

Initiate joint development and improvement of products and processes.

Jointly establish a clear understanding of customers’ needs.

Share information and future plans, and

Recognize supplier improvements and achievements.

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