Quality Management Systems

Quality Management Systems (or a QMS, for short) cover everything in a Quality Plan and much more.  Whilst a Quality Plan focuses on a single product, for example, a Quality Management System should cover all products, contracts and practices in an wider scope.  The QMS focuses on managing quality across the entire range of the products in its remit, rather than just one.  They will typically include:

  • Processes
  • Risk analyses of the operational areas
  • Identify KPI’s, include details of how they will be achieved
  • Policies that affect the organisation
  • What checks have been performed to ensure people are following the processes (called Audits)
  • What records are kept to demonstrate compliance with the formal processes
  • What actions have been taken to fix errors or gaps, or to improve the system
  • Evidence that everyone, from the Directors to the shop floor, know about the QMS and how they contribute to its success

A Quality Management System can be certified … it can be assessed against the ISO 9001 Quality Management standard.  It doesn’t have to be, but it can be.  Certifying introduces additional costs for certification, as an Certification Body comes to inspect your QMS and your business to ensure it complies with the standard.  But why should you consider certifying?

ISO 9001 is an internationally recognised standard for Quality Management.  Having a QMS certified as complying with it means businesses around the world will recognise your commitment to quality and meeting customer needs, but you don’t have to.  It’s equally possible to meet the ISO 9001 standard and not certify.  We’ll discuss the pros and cons of this later.

 Clearly, the QMS is a far greater prospect to undertake, but did you notice the key difference?

  • A Quality Plan describes what you’re planning to do and how you’ll do it.
  • A Quality Management Systems describes what you’ll do, how you’ll do it … and the results you saw, and how you improved it thereafter (remember the Reichart Cycle from earlier?  i.e. Plan-Do-Check-Act)