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ISO management system standards have been impacting on the UK business community for over 25 years. However, there remains an air of mystery around even the common standards like ISO 9001. Hence the question and the title of this blog. Google tells us that there are many asking basic questions such as  “what is a quality management system?”

Actually, You Probably Have One Already

Most companies have their own quality management system (QMS). However, most don’t recognise it for what it is. Most don’t have it written down.

Basically, it’s just your best way of working. It may have a few checks and balances built in to make sure you’ve done the things you planned, in the way you intended. That’s it.

Blame The Government

Such procedures were pioneered by Ministry of Defence, to make sure that every shell fired actually went “bang” (but only on the battlefield). Therefore, the original systems were often over-complicated and hard to understand. Hence, complexity and confusion, and the question “What is a Quality Management System?” Consequently, in my drive to make the complex simple, I will describe the “why and “what” of the Quality Management System.

How To Stand Out!

Your DIY, un-audited, quality management system marks you out from your competitors. That’s good! However, if you have formalised this by being certified to ISO 9001, you are standing out even more. Why? Because you have sat down and thought how you do things. (“Well, or not?”) Then, you have taken some advice from a consultant. (“How can we improve?” )

Finally, an external auditor has proved that you reach an internationally recognised standard. You are now ahead of the crowd. 

Doing The Same Thing Every Time. You Need To Make It Happen.

Consistency of product or service is a much-neglected issue. Word of mouth tradition may be adequate for a two-man joinery workshop, but not for the manufacture of a medical device or aerospace component. Management may be convinced that all their personnel are “singing from the same hymn sheet” However, some are singing the same song, but in a Country and Western style. Others are Jazz-Scatting and improvising. An effective Quality Management System means an agreed standard, procedure, and outcome. The same song in the same style. Harmony. Good.

“Can I Trust This Company?” (A Late-Night Taxi Home)

We ask this everyday, whether buying a cup of coffee, a sandwich or using public transport. Would you climb in a taxi that had no MOT?

Your customers have exactly the same issues of trust about your company, Failure of a product or service affects more than your reputation. It may affect the livelihood, and even the existence of your customers. A QMS written up to an ISO standard assures your clients of your diligence in procurement and production. You are a company that can be trusted to produce a quality product.

What is  a Quality Management System?

Something to Protect You From the Side-Effects of Success

Sadly, many a successful market innovator, encouraged by their initial success, begin to believe their own marketing hype, rather than their quality statistics. They fail to grasp the need for good old down-to-earth consistency. Furthermore, they fail to fulfil their potential due to the inability to do things right every time. Here is a major “why” of a quality management system. No business can survive long term without satisfying customers. This needs to be a managed intention. Success is good. Quality is even better.

Hopefully, we have answered the question “What is a quality management system?” It’s much-simplified, but hopefully not simplistic. There is much more to tell on this topic, specific to your business. Drop us a line.

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