ISO 9001 Principles

What are the principles of ISO 9001?

The seven principles of quality management

ISO 9001 Accreditation provides businesses with a framework for meeting quality management Standards. Customers and clients place great emphasis on the quality of products and services they receive from your business. So, we’ll give you all the insight you need to make sure you meet and exceed these expectations. 

As the International Standard for quality management, ISO 9001 has been developed by experts from around the world to help you put quality at the heart of your organisation.

But how do you achieve this? Well, there are seven ISO 9001 principles that outline exactly what is required to help you do just that. By following these principles, you will be able to reap the rewards of greater consistency, better customer satisfaction and stronger performance. 

Here’s a little more detail about the seven quality management principles of ISO 9001 to give you a better understanding of how you can adopt ISO 9001 to help your business grow.

ISO 9001 – A brief overview

The ISO 9001 Standard is contained within the ISO 9000 family of quality management Standards. ISO 9001:2015 is the current Standard that defines all the requirements needed to create a quality management system that offers the following: 

  • Meet customers’ needs through consistent quality achieved across all products and services. 
  • Meet demands for continuous improvement to enhance customer satisfaction.
  • Increase efficiency across your business procedures and processes. 
  • Win more contracts and tenders to increase your revenues. 
  • Adopt streamlined processes to save costs, reduce errors and improve productivity. 

There are lots of benefits ISO 9001 can provide for both your business and your customers. But, none of these can be achieved without following the principles of ISO 9001.

What are the seven quality management principles of ISO 9001?

The seven principles of ISO 9001

Quality management principles offer an essential framework for the implementation of ISO 9001. The core principles are the basis for quality management across your business, helping your business to maximise performance improvement and meet compliance standards. The seven quality management principles of ISO 9001 are: 

  • Engagement of people – Align and engage people across all levels of your business to help create and deliver processes and procedures that add value to elevate both your business and your workforce.
  • Customer focus – We understand that customers are the core focus of any business. Meeting their expectations is essential to growth, and this principle means your customers are at the heart of your business. 
  • Leadership – Strong leadership means better quality and consistency. Managerial processes provide a unified approach so that everybody is on the same page. 
  • Process approach – An interrelated approach across all of your business processes will drive consistency and efficiency in results. 
  • Continual improvement – Analyse and review your business processes on a frequent basis. This will help achieve continuous improvement for your business that can be maintained both short-term and long-term. 
  • Factual approach to decision making – Data is king, therefore any decisions that are taken should be in the best interests of your business, evidenced by facts that drive optimal results.
  • Relationship management – Establishing and maintaining strong relationships with clients and suppliers is key to better business performance. 

Each of these seven quality management principles provides a clear aim with benefits attributed to each. The principles shouldn’t be prioritised in order, they are all of equal importance and offer relative importance for your business depending on the type of organisation that you are. Here’s a little more detail about each of those principles below.

Two men and one woman looking at a laptop on desk

Principle 1 - Engagement of people

Getting your team involved in the management system

Quality management systems such as ISO 9001 are not just for senior management – everyone within your organisation contributes towards its processes. Openly discussing issues and sharing knowledge and experience with your team is therefore key if you want to fully benefit from the basic quality management principles of ISO 9001. It is essential that everyone in your company understands their role and feels valued for their contribution to its success. This will not only help you to achieve certification but will also demonstrate your organisation’s commitment to improving quality.

The benefits of engaging people across your processes include: 

  • Develop trust and collaborative working processes across your business
  • Improve the motivation across the organisation to meet quality objectives
  • Enhance the responsibility of staff to improve processes and activities 
  • Increase the level of people satisfaction in the business

To help raise awareness of ISO 9001 and its benefits, you may want to consider some awareness training. Our online e-learning training platform has a useful ISO 9001 awareness course.

Man and woman working together on a task.

Principle 2 - Customer focus

Focus on your customers and their needs

Developing a strong customer focus is an excellent way of demonstrating your commitment to quality. Gathering customer feedback is key – whether good or bad – as this can help you to spot non-conformities and improve your processes so that your business can strengthen its performance even further.

Benefits of a customer-focused approach include: 

  • A loyal customer base.
  • Enhanced the reputation of your business.
  • The ability to maintain business relationships.
  • Increase your revenues and market share. 

As well as satisfying customers, your business should also consider the interests of other stakeholders, whether owners, employees, suppliers, investors or the wider community.

Lady smiling and sitting at a desk in call centre

Principle 3 - Leadership

Develop a strong management team

A key component of meeting the criteria outlined in the seven quality management principles centres upon strong leadership. This means you have a clear vision of your company’s future. Communicating this vision effectively will ensure your whole team works towards the same objectives, giving your organisation a shared sense of purpose. This can then help to increase employee motivation and productivity.

Other benefits of a strong leadership approach include: 

  • Improves coordination of processes across the organisation.
  • Meet quality objectives efficiently. 
  • Aligned strategic goals can be achieved through continuous development and improving managerial capabilities. 
  • Better communication between the various levels of your organisation enables improved functionality.
Woman presenting with laptop

Principle 4 - Process approach

Create a process culture

The Plan Do Check Act (PDCA) principle of the ISO 9001 Standard will help you promote a process-driven culture across your organisation. This is a proven way of ensuring you plan, resource and manage your processes and their interactions effectively.

Having an organised approach to the implementation of all your processes can bring the following benefits: 

  • Concentrated efforts on establishing improvement opportunities.
  • Aligned processes that drive consistency and favourable outcomes for the benefit of your business.
  • Smoother cross-collaboration that improves interdepartmental processes and procedures.
  • Demonstrate efficiency and effectiveness to interested parties to help increase confidence in your operations.

By managing the different areas in your business together as a whole, you’ll be able to align operations for greater efficiency, making it even easier to achieve your objectives. Measuring and evaluating these interrelated processes will also help you to identify areas for improvement.

Man working on table in studio

Principle 5 - Continual improvement

Drive continual improvement

Continual improvement is essential to the ISO 9001 quality management system and should be your organisation’s core objective. Implementing processes for identifying risks and opportunities and solving non-conformities. Measuring and monitoring your efforts means that you’ll be able to find ways to improve and make your business even stronger. 

Other benefits that continual improvement offers for your business include: 

  • Using learning opportunities to aid the development and improvement. 
  • Overall improved performance which helps enhance customer satisfaction. 
  • Anticipate any changes or challenges and have measures in place that enable your company to react accordingly. 
  • Investigative measures establish the cause of issues with preventive and corrective actions in place.
Man drawing green tick on checkbox

Principle 6 - Factual approach to decision making

Base your decisions on facts

Accurate and reliable data is essential for making informed decisions. For instance, to solve the root cause of a non-conformity you need the right evidence. Make sure information is available to those who need it and keep communication channels open.

Building an evidence approach to inform decisions offers many business benefits such as: 

  • Accurate performance assessment that helps meet quality objectives and improves decisions that your business makes. 
  • The effectiveness of your operations and their efficiency demonstrate how effective previous processes and decisions were.
  • Evidence helps build cases for driving change that is beneficial to your overarching company goals.
Two men looking at large screen with image of a price graph

Principle 7 - Relationship management

Develop mutually beneficial relationships with suppliers

Your suppliers can be a source of competitive advantage but this requires a relationship built on trust. Creating such lasting relationships with suppliers and other interested parties means balancing short-term financial gains with long-term, mutually beneficial strategies. 

Enhancing the relationships within your business helps create an environment for expansion and growth which offers many benefits such as: 

  • Alignment of goals and objectives across all parties.
  • Effective supply chain management.
  • Shared intelligence that serves benefits of all parties to manage risks.
  • Enhances organisational performance and interested parties through efficient responses to any opportunities or risks.
Business people at desk looking at paperwork

How the seven quality management principles will benefit your business

Implementing these seven quality management principles as you become certified for ISO 9001 can help you to meet key requirements of the Standard. This will then help you to improve customer satisfaction and loyalty, increase employee motivation and productivity, and your use of resources.

Continually strengthening your processes will also help you to improve your cost efficiency and enable you to build market share by responding rapidly to new opportunities.

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Frequently asked questions

What are the seven principles of quality management?

Who developed the quality principles?

When were the quality management principles introduced to ISO Standards?

What are the requirements of ISO 9001?


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