What is Quality Management and a Quality Management System?

Quality is a fundamental part of any organisation. Ensuring consistently high levels of quality across products, services, processes, and operations can enhance business reputation and attract and retain customers. A Quality Management System (QMS) can help you achieve this.

In 2020, 2,338 ISO 9001 certificates – the global standard for Quality Management Systems (QMS) – were issued to Irish organisations. Organisations with an ISO 9001 QMS are committed to delivering quality and improving customer satisfaction.

Without quality at the centre of your organisation, you’re less likely to have efficient business operations. Your products or services may leave customers unhappy − damaging your reputation and potentially losing new business, employees and investors.

Find out more about ISO 9001.

What is Quality Management?

Quality Management oversees and continuously improves tasks, processes and activities to meet customer requirements consistently. It includes setting goals and adjusting operations accordingly to ensure procedures are streamlined and efficient. It ensures that the outcome of services or products is consistent and of a high standard.

Quality is an essential factor in business. It encourages the organisation to thrive and maintain its brand reputation. It can boost business profits with streamlined processes that deliver products customers are happy with and enable the organisation to grow.

What is a Quality Management System?

A Quality Management System (QMS) is a system of formalised business processes and procedures. It coordinates activities to meet quality requirements and customer satisfaction while improving the efficiency and effectiveness of operations, through the setting and monitoring of objectives.

It sets out the desired outcomes for each step and the ways to improve areas that aren’t working as effectively.

There are four main components of a QMS:

  • Quality planning – Identifying objectives and relevant quality standards and deciding how to achieve them.
  • Quality control − Inspecting and testing at appropriate points to identify any defects in the product and/or service.
  • Quality assurance – This component is process-oriented and focuses on defect prevention to ensure services and products meet specified requirements and standards when delivered. 
  • Quality improvement − Reviewing and evaluating your findings and improving areas that need changes. This improvement goes for the product and the processes, consistently looking at what is working and what isn’t.

quality management team discussion

Why are Quality Management Systems important?

A quality management system benefits organisations by providing a measurable system for ensuring consistency in creating, producing and delivering products and services. It also brings along many benefits for the organisation.

Improves compliance

A structured and monitored management system can help ensure your organisation stays compliant with relevant legal and other requirements. It is also easier to adapt to changes or improve processes in line with regulations.

Improves customer satisfaction

The implementation of a quality management system can help improve customer satisfaction. Ensuring that each step of the system helps to produce a product or service of a high standard can mean that customers trust your brand and are more willing to return. Consumer satisfaction is a priority, and a QMS helps to support that.

Improves organisational culture

A clear and structured system helps to improve the efficiency of the workplace. Employees will better understand their expectations and responsibilities and take more accountability for their roles. It may produce a more effective way of working and reporting on issues.

Improves documentation

A QMS can help document each stage of the system. Documentation can help you make data-driven decisions to improve operations and customer satisfaction.

Consistent quality

A Quality Management System offers the active monitoring and recording of processes and quality so that you can identify and address flaws. It provides data and documentation for each stage, allowing you to see which process is not meeting standards. This consistent quality will enable you to repeatedly deliver the services and products that satisfy customers.

Read our guide to why have a quality management system – benefits of using a QMS.

components of a QMS

Choosing a QMS

When choosing a Quality Management System for your organisation, you should consider:

  • Industry relevance – There may be an industry-specific QMS, so look at ones that can be suitable for any or specific to your industry and business.
  • Scalability – A QMS that is scalable means it can grow with your business. It should be able to run real-time data and keep up with the demands and complexities of your business.
  • Integration – Consider a QMS that is easy to integrate with other standards and processes to offer a complete quality solution.
  • Risk management – It’s worth choosing a QMS with embedded risk management tools to support the quality and management of operations.
  • Flexibility – A QMS should be able to adapt to existing and new integrations, processes and software. It should also be configurable to workflow, reports and tools.

A global standard such as ISO 9001:2015 is a valuable management system as it can scale and integrate with other standards. It is also suitable for many industries, from construction and manufacturing to healthcare and hospitality. The standard also helps organisations meet regulatory and statutory requirements and help achieve excellence in customer satisfaction and product delivery.

Read our guide to an overview of ISO 9001 quality management certification.

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Holly Fitzpatrick
Holly Fitzpatrick

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