ISO 9001 – 7 Principles of Quality Management

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The development of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) came in the aftermath of the devastation wrought on Europe in World War 2. The organization was an offshoot of the earlier International Federation of National Standardizing Associations (ISA), which started in 1926 to create a set of mechanical engineering standards. During rebuilding efforts, it was found that standards for businesses between countries often weren’t compatible. 

In 1946, 25 countries met to create an organization that would be responsible for making a new set of international standards, with the organization’s name derived from the Greek word “isos,” which means “equal.” The ISO now includes 165 member countries, with over three thousand technical bodies that aid further development of standards. As the largest organization responsible for developing voluntary standards, the ISO looks at issues that include compatibility, interoperability and terminology, along with environmental, health and safety issues. Of these, the ISO 9001 principles were specifically developed for companies involved in design, production and servicing. 

Why Do ISO 9001 Principles Matter? 

As an international standard, ISO 9001 principles were developed by quality management experts throughout the world. The current set of ISO 9001 principles was outlined in 2015, and those organizations that follow these standards are referred to as ISO 9001:2015 certified.  

The Most Recent ISO 9001 Principles Promote:

  • A focus on customer satisfaction.
  • Adaption to and adoption of ISO structures to align with other ISO standards. 
  • An approach that results in better quality outcomes.
  • Emphasis on upper-level management regarding quality management system (QMS) ownership. 
  • Expanded connections between organizations and the QMS. 
  • Less complex terminology. 
  • More flexibility regarding requirements. 
  • Obligations regarding quality performance.

ISO 9001 sets out conditions for businesses and other organizations to create an efficient quality management system, helping increase efficiency while improving customer satisfaction. With ISO 9001, seven principles are used as a measure to drive better performance and improvements within an organization

The 7 ISO 9001 Principles

There are seven basic ISO 9001 principles that guide a QMS, which are all seen as equally important. These can be applied to businesses that provide either products or services, and these ideals are key to a modern QMS. While their comparative significance varies, depending upon the organization, the actual focus of these standards will likely change over time. A brief description of the seven ISO 9001 principles and how they can be applied:

Customer Focus

Focusing on customers demonstrates a company’s commitment to quality. To facilitate this, it’s important to collect both positive and negative customer feedback. This helps businesses meet and exceed expectations by identifying ways in which to improve processes that strengthen performance. 

Actions Organizations Can Take: 

  • Identifying the customer base in order to understand both current and future expectations and needs, while linking these to the company’s objectives. 
  • Designing, developing, delivering, planning and producing goods and services that meet customer expectations and needs.
  • Measuring and monitoring customer satisfaction and responding appropriately to findings. 
  • Acting upon determinations regarding expectations and needs to improve customer satisfaction.
  • Managing customer relationships to achieve success.

These actions look to promote customer satisfaction and loyalty, enhance an organization’s reputation, increase value and expand the customer base while growing revenue and market share.

Engagement of People

ISO 9001 principles apply to all levels of an organization. Applying these standards appropriately involves open discussion about experience and knowledge across a company’s teams. This will contribute to improvements in quality while helping an organization achieve certification. 

Actions Organizations Can Take: 

  • Internally promoting the performance of individual contributions as well as collaboration between teams. 
  • Sharing of expertise via open discussions. 
  • Encouraging employees at all levels to take initiative and act upon performance constraints.
  • Acknowledging contributions that lead to improvements.
  • Enabling workers to self-evaluate performance through surveys to assess employee satisfaction, communicate results and apply these appropriately. 
  • Cultivating an understanding of quality objectives among employees in order to increase motivation. 

This looks to enhance collaboration and satisfaction in an organization by focusing on personal development with an impetus to drive creativity. By involving employees in activities that lead to better work environments, organizations additionally contribute to a mutually beneficial culture that promotes shared values. 

Evidence-Based Decision Making

All businesses require accurate and trustworthy data to make informed decisions. This involves ensuring all relevant information is made available to decision-makers by keeping means of communication open between all levels of an organization. 

Actions Organizations Can Take: 

  • Measuring and monitoring key performance indicators (KPI) to determine business performance.
  • Making relevant data and information available to all stakeholders while ensuring the accuracy, reliability and security of the shared information. 
  • Using appropriate methods for analyzing and evaluating data and information, while ensuring those tasked with this are properly trained. 
  • Deciding upon what actions to take based on the evidence, while also considering expertise and insight from decision-makers. 

By improving decision-making, assessments can be made on how the organization performs in relation to its objectives. This allows a company to improve efficiency by creating capabilities that allow stakeholders to review and challenge the effectiveness of past decisions.


Continuous improvement is a theme found throughout all seven ISO 9001 principles. In this case, improvement refers to making constant progress towards a prime objective. By implementing procedures that identify opportunities and risks, especially when tracking their efforts, companies can identify and resolve differences that enable them to improve.

Actions Organizations Can Take: 

  • Establishing objectives for improvement at all levels of an organization, then training them how to apply these methods and tools to improve performance. 
  • Ensuring all those who promote improvement projects are knowledgeable by developing methods that support implementation throughout a business. 
  • Tracking, reviewing and auditing projects through each stage in order to recognize any improvements made. 
  • Incorporate any considerations for improvement when developing products, services and procedures. 

When an organization seeks to improve its capabilities, improvements in customer satisfaction normally follow. To make meaningful improvements, however, the focus should be on preventing and correcting the root causes of problems. This enhances a company’s ability to respond to risks and opportunities internally and externally. Further, both incremental and breakthrough improvements should be considered, with training utilized as a means to augment innovation. 


It’s important for business leaders to have a clear vision of their company’s future. Conveying this vision entails working as a team towards the same objective, which will give employees a collective sense of purpose. This in turn heightens productivity and improves motivation. 

Actions Organizations Can Take: 

  • Conveying an overall business strategy and how to achieve it solidifies a sense of shared values that are reflected in the behavior of all levels of the company’s workforce. 
  • Establishing trust and integrity as part of organizational culture encourages commitment to quality. 
  • Making sure leaders within a business set positive examples to recognize contributions helps inspire and encourage employees.  
  • By providing workers with the resources and training they need, along with the authority to do so, will lead to better accountability within an organization. 

Quality objectives become more effective when an organization’s processes are coordinated. This improves communication at all levels within a business, enabling a company’s employees to deliver the desired outcomes. 

Process Approach

As one of the ISO 9001 principles, the Plan Do Check Act (PDCA) policy helps promote a culture that’s driven by following established processes. This enables businesses to achieve predictable results as activities are considered holistically as a function within a consistent system of rules and procedures. 

Actions Organizations Can Take: 

  • Defining what processes are necessary to achieve business objectives by establishing management processes that promote accountability, authority and responsibility.
  • Understanding organizational capabilities by determining constraints on resources before acting. 
  • Determining the interdependencies involved in processes by analyzing how individual process modifications affect the entire system.
  • Managing how processes relate to the rest of the system in order to achieve quality objectives. 
  • Making information available that’s essential for monitoring and analyzing performance throughout a system. 
  • Managing risk to impact the production processes and outcomes of a QMS. 

For companies that focus on key processes to enable improvement, having these aligned systemically allows more predictable and consistent results. Effective process management optimizes performance, enabling more efficient use of resources while breaking down functional barriers within an organization. This enables businesses to give stakeholders more confidence.

Relationship Management

While suppliers can offer advantages to businesses, this demands that sufficient rapport has been developed. Trust developed through long-lasting relationships with third-party vendors and other stakeholders ensures short-term financial gains can be balanced against longer-term strategies, enabling mutually advantageous relationships. 

Actions Organizations Can Take: 

  • Determining which stakeholders are most relevant to a business and prioritizing these relationships. 
  • Establishing relationships that balance gains in the short term against longer-term planning. 
  • Amalgamating expertise, information and other relationship-centered resources with stakeholders in order to measure performance and provide feedback to augment progress.
  • Collaborating on developing and improving stakeholder relationships, including recognizing achievements made that improve the organization. 

Through the development of relationships, companies can respond to opportunities and limitations surrounding their performance. Knowing the goals and values of suppliers, business partners and others boosts an organization’s ability to create value. Sharing resources and competencies helps them manage risks related to quality, including supply chains that enable the stable exchange of merchandise and services. 

M.M. Newman Corporation: ISO 9001:2015 Certified

The M.M. Newman Corporation is an ISO 9001:2015 certified manufacturer of spiral wrap used to bundle and protect cabling, hoses, tubing and wiring. M.M. Newman implements the seven ISO 9001 principles on quality throughout our company. We take great pride in our focus on customer needs and put customer satisfaction first. M.M. Newman Corporation also seeks engagement with all levels of our workforce to increase our company’s productivity for the benefit of our customers. As an enterprise, we make decisions based on established facts, seeking to continually improve upon our processes. Through our associations with suppliers, we seek to become a leader that consumers can count on. To learn more about what our company can do for you, contact our team today.