Why Have A Quality Management System? What is Quality Assurance Anyway?
ISO management system standards have now been impacting on the UK business community for over 25 years, yet there remains an air of mystery around even the common standards like ISO 9001
One term misunderstood is Quality Management System or QMS. Most companies have their own QMS, though most don’t realise it or have it written down. It’s just your way of working, and preferably with a few checks and balances built in to make sure you’ve done the things you intended, in the way you intended. The Ministry of Defence were one of the pioneers, so the original systems were often over-complicated and hard to understand. In my campaign to make the complex simple, I thought I’d describe the “why and “what” of the Quality Management System.
1. Stand Out! An effective certified management system shows you as different to your competitors. You’ve sat down and thought how you do things well, or not, taken some advice, and achieved an internationally recognised standard. Not everyone does. You are now ahead of the crowd.
2. Because Quality Doesn’t Just Happen. Once a business expands beyond one employee, consistency of product or service can be an issue. Word of mouth data can’t be relied upon for activities such as the construction of a medical device or aerospace component. Management may convince themselves that all their personnel are “singing from the same hymn sheet”, but would be shocked to find that some are singing in a Country and Western style, others are Jazz-Rapping. An effective Quality Management System means an agreed standard, procedure, and outcome. Simple.
3. Potential customers need to be assured you are trustworthy. Would you climb in a taxi that had no MOT? Failure of a product or service affects more than your reputation, but also the livelihood, or even the very existence of your customers. A friend of mine drives a small car with a known weakness in the gearbox. The warranty claims have probably destroyed any margin made on sales, but the widespread knowledge of the fault have destroyed the reputation of this vehicle. This customer will never buy another car from this manufacturer, even though the cost of correcting the weakness would have been very little when first in production. A QMS written up to an ISO standard assures your clients of your diligence in procurement and production. You can be taken seriously.
4. Good products and services don’t happen by accident, they need to be checked. Regularly Sadly, many a successful market innovator, buoyed by their initial success, begin to believe their own marketing hype, fail to grasp the need for good old down-to-earth consistency, and fail to fulfil their potential due to the inability to do things right every time. No business can survive long term without satisfying customers, this need’s to be a managed intention.
Written by Colin Brown of ISO Consultants