Guide

Quality management standards

How to implement a quality management system

Implementing a quality management system (QMS) into a business is not always a simple task. Here are some key guidelines to getting a QMS started.

Steps to quality management system implementation

Creating a quality management system requires input from employees at all levels of an organisation, starting with top management. Their firm commitment to change and improvement is vital to the success of system implementation.

After securing the support of top management, you should follow these key steps to implement a quality management system:

1. Analyse your business by breaking it down into key areas. These will often be areas that are crucial to your customers' satisfaction. Senior staff should determine the needs of the business and design the system around these.

2. Plan your approach by deciding which resources you need and discuss the effectiveness of existing processes with staff. Conduct a gap analysis to determine what the current processes are and how they need to change. Assemble your team and develop an implementation plan. See project plan for ISO 9001 implementation .

3. Inform and train employees. Decide if new processes are necessary and tell staff about them. Provide training and explain how the new system will benefit both staff and customers.

4. Consider supporting documentation, such as quality policies, procedures, training materials, work instructions, etc. Use version control documents to keep your documentation in order. See example version control document. If you are seeking ISO certification, you will have to keep specific documentation to meet the requirements. Download ISO 9001:2015 documented information guidance (PDF, 273K).

5. Deploy the system and check that the processes are working. Give someone the responsibility for the system and ensure that proper procedures are followed. Set targets for how each process contributes to the success of business goals. Control, measure and monitor your outputs to ensure that they meet the expected quality levels.

6. Review and revise processes where necessary. Schedule routine product or process audits to monitor compliance with policies and procedures, and any certification requirements. Continue to audit and review regularly to ensure continuous improvement.

The British Standards Institution (BSI) offers guidance to help you determine if you're ready for ISO 9001 certification :

See also ISO 9001 certification.

Implementing a total quality management system

Unlike the ISO 9000 standards, which are usually restricted to specified business processes, a total quality management applies to the whole business. It addresses work culture, the working environment and the ethics of the business, and aims to ensure complete customer satisfaction.