What is ISO 9001?

What is quality management according to ISO 9001?

Quality management stands for improvement measures on a product or process with the focus on the fulfillment of customer requirements. A quality management system is therefore geared towards customer satisfaction. Quality management is therefore one of the benchmarks by which the customer makes his purchase decision. In addition, it is a factor that has an intensive interaction with the competitive situation and the performance of a provider.

Quality is derived from the Latin word “qualis”, which means “how to procure”. The term, which is usually given positive connotations, is therefore fundamentally value-neutral. According to the quality management standard ISO 9001quality is the degree of fulfillment of given requirements. In QM reality, these demands are usually made by the customer. Quality management is not a term of “either / or”. So one cannot attribute the presence or absence of quality to a unit. Rather, all values ​​between “very good” and “very bad” are possible. Therefore there is no such thing as absolute quality, but rather it represents the degree and extent of the adaptation of the result of an activity to the given requirements. On this page you get an introduction and overview of the topic and learn more about the core of the standard and the advantages of quality management. You will also find out which roles, for example those of the quality officer, are important in the implementation.


What advantages does ISO 9001 offer in the company?

Basically, it can be said that a properly applied quality management system is the path to the success of your company! Advantages for the increased introduction include the following:

  • Shorter innovation cycles for increasingly complex products: imitation by competitors and the demand for sophisticated and individual problem solutions is increasing.
  • Change in customer behavior: The individualistic and service-oriented type of customer is becoming more demanding and critical.
  • Cost pressure: Many opponents rely on cost reduction and price competition.


The structure of a QMS is causally linked to the structure of a company. This must face the current challenges in its markets, which will be subject to ever shorter and more turbulent changes in the future. From an organizational-theoretical point of view, process-related structures enable the company to be adaptable. As a result, globally available services and products of high quality are always offered that are tailored to the customer. Therefore, quality management systems must be able to map the structure and process organization and their interrelationships. QMS that meet this requirement are referred to as process-oriented systems according to ISO 9001.


What can companies do?

From the customer’s point of view, it is not only the objectively provided “conditional” contract fulfillment that decides, but also the service experienced, i.e. the subjectively perceived quality of the service. With the same (product) features and the same price-performance ratio, values ​​such as trust, friendliness and reliability influence the purchase decision, especially for intangible products. The winners will be those companies that create unique selling points for customer loyalty vis-à-vis their competitors in this area. Because quality features have to be coordinated with economic and legal requirements, they do not always fully meet customer requirements. The trick is to reconcile these demands.


What are the benefits of quality management?

What is new is the even more consistent cross-company and customer-oriented perspective in quality management. This opens up great potential through the ongoing feedback between customer expectations on the one hand and the continuous improvement of business processes and products on the other. From this point of view, the constant improvement of quality is a task that the management has to specify and be responsible for as a corporate goal. Quality thus becomes a strategic corporate goal.

The potential benefits arise mainly from the following areas:

Income from lower customer turnover through higher satisfaction, because it costs considerably more to win a new customer than to keep an existing one

Achieving higher sales and income with regular customers (cross selling)

Recommendations from satisfied customers bring additional new customers and income

Cost savings are achieved by improving the efficiency and effectiveness of business processes as well as lower quality-related costs or error costs and create additional investment opportunities for further improvement of service quality.

This can only be successful if top management is visibly, convincingly and permanently committed to it. The whole thing is not a project with a defined start and end date in which short-term success can be achieved, but a continuous process that must be recognized by each individual in his area of ​​responsibility as a potential for success, taken seriously and lived convincingly every day.


What is the importance of customer orientation in quality management?

Customer orientation is one of the most important principles of quality management. Organizations need to identify the current and future wants and expectations of their customers and relevant interested parties. They then have to assess whether they can meet them. The aim of the company should therefore be to exceed customer expectations. After the service has been provided, the customer’s perception should also be determined and their satisfaction assessed. Customer orientation should therefore strengthen customer loyalty and enable the company to adapt more quickly to the changing requirements of customers. The expanded term “customer” no longer only means the end user of the product or service, but also internal and external customers of partial services, such as employees, Owners, suppliers or donors. The main advantages of customer orientation are as follows:


  • Increasing the reputation (image) of the organization
  • Higher customer loyalty and larger customer base
  • Increase in market share, sales, follow-up business and thus income


What does leadership mean for a QMS?

When a quality management system is introduced in the company, the management has a control instrument at hand. It is therefore clearly the task of management to maintain a quality management system and to develop it further strategically. The top management must therefore become active themselves and align the system to the company’s purpose in general (such as shared values, mission statement, ethics) as well as to the respective goals in detail. Top management should be actively accountable for everything.

This principle in quality management promotes the culture of trust and mutual commitment. Since all those involved can concentrate their actions on the given direction, the company’s goals are achieved more effectively and efficiently. The prerequisite for this is that the employees are equipped with the necessary resources, the competence and the necessary authorizations. The associated ability to act also contributes to a higher level of employee motivation. Furthermore, the role model function of managers at all levels is a decisive factor for success. The main advantages of this QM principle are as follows:

  • Improving the processes of the organization through better coordination
  • Improvement of the communication between the areas and functions
  • Increasing the effectiveness and efficiency in the implementation of measures to achieve the goals


Commitment of people is an important quality management principle

At all levels, people and employees make up the essence of a company. Because their full inclusion makes it possible to use all existing skills for the benefit of the company. In order to achieve the short, medium and long-term goals, every single employee with their specific skills and abilities is important. Therefore, a corporate culture should be created that aims to involve all employees according to their possibilities and to appreciate the value of each person. This inclusion of employees in the operational processes increases motivation as well as commitment and trust in the company. After all, satisfied employees are more willing to take on responsibility and actively participate in processes for improvement. The prerequisite for the implementation of this principle is the promotion of competence and qualifications. The benefits companies get from people engagement are as follows:

  • More satisfied staff
  • Increased trust and better cooperation
  • Greater involvement of staff in improvement
  • Understanding of the quality goals and increased motivation to achieve them


What is the process-oriented approach in quality management?

The system should map the actual operational processes and their current best possibility. A desired result can be better achieved if related activities and associated resources are managed and controlled as a process. In order to meet this goal of ensuring a consistent and repeatable quality standard, the company processes should be defined. The process orientation also creates greater transparency. This means that the use of resources can be optimized, possible sources of error can be identified and, as a result, the quality-related costs are optimized. The recognition, understanding, management and control of the overall system with its processes is the prerequisite for the efficiency of the company in achieving its goals.


Why is improvement one of the most important quality management principles?

Continuous improvement is the prerequisite for the sustainable development of the company. Successful companies see the changes in internal and external framework conditions as an opportunity and improve their processes as a result. This then leads to better products and / or services. In addition, introduced processes should be regularly questioned and aligned with the changing demands of customers. The need for improvement can, however, also result from the experience and knowledge of the employees who, for example, point out the risk of errors. With consistent implementation of the principle of improvement, the performance potential of the company can be increased considerably.


Continuous improvement in quality management ISO 9001 with the PDCA cycle

This can be seen in the company in the improvement of capabilities by optimizing active power, minimizing apparent and reactive power and eliminating defective power. The process of improvement is defined by a step-by-step procedure in the sense of the PDCA cycle. Improvement suggestions from employees or working groups are requested in the Kaizen. The suggestions are then checked for usability and evaluated in order to incorporate them into the operational processes if the overall assessment is positive.

So there is a constant cycle of planning, activity, control and improvement: the PDCA cycle. As a result, all processes in the company are to be constantly analyzed and improved. The advantages that companies derive from this principle are as follows:


  • Better ability to handle internal and external risks
  • Focus on determining the causes and corrective actions
  • Higher process performance and “lessons learned” through better information
  • Motivation through improvement success


The principle of evidence-based decision making

Effective decisions are based on the analysis and evaluation of data and information (numbers, data, facts = ZDF instead of all speeches mess = ARD). This is the only way to ensure that all important aspects are included in the company’s decision. The active control of a management system based on facts helps to understand the connection between cause and effect and the resulting consequences. The statements of numbers, data and facts can be compared with intuitive decisions in order to obtain a sustainable result. It is also important to record the basis for decision-making in order to be able to retrospectively assess the effectiveness of certain measures. This has the following advantages:

  • Optimizing the decision-making process
  • Better recognition of the effectiveness of decisions already made
  • More precise evaluation of the performance
  • Better effectiveness and efficiency of operational measures


Relationship management as another important principle

An organization is interrelated with all of its relevant stakeholders. Understanding these interrelationships has a direct impact on the company’s performance and success. It is therefore crucial for success to grasp and consciously control these interrelationships. With the fulfillment of this quality management principle, the trust between the company and the interested parties increases. Ultimately, the result is long-term, undisturbed, partnership-based cooperation, for example through long-term cooperation with suppliers. Clear and open communication, the increased exchange of knowledge, the reduction of controls and the joint advancement of developments create relationships that are mutually beneficial. As a result, costs and resource consumption decrease. Companies benefit from the following advantages:

  • Better performance by properly responding to opportunities
  • Same understanding (values, goals)
  • Sharing resources and risk management
  • Well-managed and stable supply chain


For which industries is the introduction of a quality management system suitable?

Certified companies have long been standard in the area of ​​production and in industries with many production stages. But it is also a fact that the application in the field of services is becoming more and more widespread. Those responsible have recognized that process and “product” quality in this area are also methods of distinguishing one’s own product from the competition.

In addition, error costs can be effectively avoided through the quality of processes. That is why more and more companies in the service sector rely on the quality management standard DIN EN ISO 9001. The more specific the industry, the more specific the norm becomes. Laboratories, for example, have a system in accordance with ISO 17025, for the area of ​​medical products there is ISO 13485 and for the automotive industry there is IATF 16949. These exemplary quality management standards are all derived from ISO 9001. However, depending on the respective topic, they are often more specific in the statements and also have extended requirements.