Quality Management Principles To Build Your Discipline

Trusted by hundreds of manufacturing companies around the world:

If You Want a Company Culture That Supports Quality, Start with Established Quality Management Principles.

Caring about quality is nice. But it doesn’t improve products, performance, or profit. To do that, you need to establish standards—quality principles—across your organization.

Strong quality principles are supported by data—and provide targets that everyone in the company can pursue.

How do you set quality principles? Industry groups and international quality standards, such as ISO 9001 and ISO 22000, pave the way. Standards and accrediting organizations offer foundational quality management principles, as well as a baseline for quality management.

But they’re not the end state, or even the limit on what you can achieve. When you master quality management, these principles become more than just items on a checklist—they become ingrained in your organization’s culture. Quality sits at the center of all daily activities, as well as big-picture decisions, conversations, and plans.

When quality becomes a part of everything you do—and how you do it—compliance with industry standards is simpler. Learn how to make the principles of quality management an essential part of your workplace culture.

SPC-based quality software can embed quality principles—and empower users—at every level using actionable quality insights.

What Are Quality Management Principles?

Many quality standards and compliance requirements are established externally. Sometimes customers set the bar, but most often industry bodies and action groups establish requirements. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO), for example, issues quality management principles to help manufacturers work more efficiently and reduce product failures.

Standards established by the ISO and others became the “norm,” and often dictate best practices. Their quality management principles influence how things are done—and what customers expect.

Measuring Quality Compliance

Setting standards is a great first step. But without measurement, it’s impossible to make progress. Statistical Process Control (SPC) methodology, which many manufacturers already use to control quality, is an important tool for measuring quality compliance. In fact, some certifications—such as SQF from the Safe Quality Food Institute—require the use of SPC to comply with safety and quality standards.

Why Do Quality Management Principles Matter?

Manufacturers meet external quality standards to achieve certification—and to validate to customers and prospects that they’re operating in the most consistent and productive manner. Standards such as ISO 9001 cover more than just the plant floor—they address how quality permeates leadership, engagement, relationship management, decision making, and more. That’s why quality management principles are an important piece of building a culture around quality.

Start with the Basics: ISO Quality Management Principles

The ISO 9000 family of standards are based on seven quality management principles:

  1. Customer Focus: How manufacturers use quality management to meet or exceed customer expectations. Manufacturers can achieve customer focus by deeply understanding customers’ needs—and by measuring and monitoring customer satisfaction.
  2. Leadership: Leaders create working conditions that support quality and align quality to organizational strategies, policies, and processes. They can also make sure quality initiatives are properly resourced.
  3. People Engagement: People need appropriate training to support quality, but also recognition and empowerment to take initiative toward quality improvement. Engaged workers understand how their individual contributions affect quality performance, and are empowered to speak up, collaborate, and contribute to continuous improvement.
  4. Process Approach: Consistent and predictable results are a key measure of quality. This ISO 9001 principle requires manufacturers to understand and manage interrelated processes in ways that optimize performance. To do this, organizations map out interdependencies and design smooth and reliable manufacturing processes, from start to finish.
  5. Continuous Improvement: This quality management principle is designed to help manufacturers react to changes in the internal and external environment and create new opportunities. Continuous improvement affects process performance, organizational capabilities, and customer satisfaction. It also requires proactive audits, planning, and analyses.
  6. Evidence-based Decision Making: Here, ISO instills data, analysis, and evaluation as manufacturers’ best resources for success. Manufacturers need to understand the cause-and-effect relationships between various inputs and processes—and be able to objectively model consequences. To do this, manufacturers need access to accurate, reliable, and timely information, and the data needs to be available to the right people.
  7. Relationship Management: Manufacturing companies need a network of suppliers, partners, investors, and workers to produce quality products. Those relationships need to be proactively managed so that everyone stays aligned on goals, values, and quality expectations. ISO suggest that companies measure the performance of relevant parties and provide feedback to enhance quality.

Every industry has a set of quality management principles—basic concepts or standards of quality—to comply with. In organizations that master quality, these principles are embedded in daily language and decision making and set the bar for quality.


Common Quality Standards: What Are They? And What Do They Mean?

The ISO establishes quality standards and principles that apply to manufacturers worldwide—regardless of product or output. Manufacturers are expected to follow ISO standards in addition to product-specific or geographic requirements. Food handling, for example, is held to different standards than car parts or computer chips.

The guidance from industry groups can be very specific, even granular. Here are some of the most common quality standards that are applied in manufacturing:

ISO 9001
Some of the ISO’s best-known standards fall under ISO 9001. It applies to manufacturing operations broadly, regardless of company size, location, or industry.

ISO 9001 builds on the seven quality management principles to build efficiencies, meet statutory and regulatory requirements, and put customers first. To achieve ISO 9001 certification, companies must document how they apply, track, and manage ISO’s quality management principles.

ISO 22000
ISO 22000 provides safety standards for the global food supply chain. These standards benefit consumers, of course, but also protect food and beverage manufacturers that work with global growers, suppliers, transport companies, and retailers.

Through Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP), ISO prescribes proactive measures to lower contamination risk and protect food. The seven principles of HACCP are designed to stop hazardous materials from entering the production process—as opposed to identifying them during final inspection.

Good Manufacturing Practice
Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) provides standards for quality governance in highly regulated industries—such as pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturing, cosmetics, and food and beverage manufacturing. Regulations cover manufacturing process, facilities, and personnel—all to ensure consumer safety. GMP requires equipment and product testing, employee competencies, and thorough documentation.

In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration enforces GMP standards and regulations; Health Canada, the European Commission, and the World Health Organization regulate GMP worldwide.

Safe Quality Food
The Food Industry Association created the Safe Quality Food (SQF) Program, a rigorous “farm-to-fork” certification to control food safety risks. It ensures that suppliers have produced, prepared, and handled food according to international and local food safety regulations—and to the highest possible standards.

The SQF Program is broken down into levels and codes, many of which build upon the HACCP rules established by the ISO. They cover food safety fundamentals, safety and quality, and ethical sourcing. Auditing is a core component of SQF, as is third-party assessment.

IATF 16949
IATF 16949 is the international standard for automotive quality management systems, which was established jointly by the International Automotive Task Force (IATF) and the ISO. It applies to any manufacturing organization that makes components, assemblies, or parts for the automotive industry.

IATF 16949 encompasses the QMPs of ISO 9001, but it is process oriented, too. To earn certification, manufacturers must demonstrate how their quality management processes support continuous improvement, prevent defects, and reduce variation and waste in the supply chain.

From Principled to Practiced

See how a modern SPC solution can support industry-required quality management principles. Put quality data to practical use—and see dramatic improvements in your manufacturing organization.

Use a Quality Platform To Put Principles into Practice

When they’re applied correctly, quality management principles aren’t just checklists. Sure, there are lots of processes and control measures to check along the way, but the benefits to the organization are systemic.

A manufacturing quality platform unites your quality metrics and exposes context and purpose. With modern SPC software and analytics tools, you can spot quality challenges and opportunities more clearly.

Whether you’re pursuing a certification, preparing for an audit, or trying to continuously improve operations, a manufacturing quality platform helps you comply—and surpass—the most stringent quality standards. Modern tools support compliance, operational improvement, and decision making—and make it easier to get a handle on the bigger quality picture.

Overcome Obstacles to Compliance

  • Do you have access to all the data you need if a regulator, client, or internal auditor makes a request? How can you be sure? And how long will it take for you to dig it up?

    Digital quality platforms remove many of the challenges related to compiling and reporting on compliance data—all your data resides in one centralized location, and it’s always within reach.

    Compliance metrics are more complete, accurate, and accessible when they’re digital. You can see exactly who entered data, when, and how data affected other compliance measures.

Our Director of Technical Services explains.

Help Users Focus on Their Jobs

Are your operators and quality professionals drowning in data? Or do they ignore it because it’s overwhelming?

A quality platform filters data for users automatically, and presents them with only the information they need—when they need it. You set the parameters, and the software lets you know when quality checks are due or processes are out of spec. That way, users can focus on their jobs—instead of babysitting compliance activities. Quality becomes embedded into your manufacturing processes, and proving it doesn’t take center stage.

Watch this video to learn how quality intelligence can be tailored for each user.

Prioritize Improvement Opportunities

Unifying quality and compliance data is important. But then what? How do you make sense of the data? Or apply it to continuous improvement efforts?

Quality platforms simplify analyses—across multiple production lines, products, and locations. Managers can access data from anywhere and compare the information in a standardized format—no spreadsheet manipulation required.

Being able to dig into data—rolling it up organization-wide or drilling down to a particular worker or line—gives manufacturing leaders a distinct advantage. They can pinpoint what’s working—and what’s not—and create replicable best practices across the organization. They can also quantify the value of quality improvements to help prioritize initiatives.

Learn how centralized and standardized data enables clear prioritization.

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