Quality management standards establish a framework for how a business manages its key activities. They identify an agreed way of doing something, either making a product, managing a process or delivering a service.
What are quality standards?
Quality management standards are details of requirements, specifications, guidelines and characteristics that products, services and processes should consistently meet in order to ensure:
- their quality matches expectations
- they are fit for purpose
- they meet the needs of their users
Standards are an essential element of quality management systems.
Purpose of quality management standards
Businesses use standards to satisfy their customers' quality requirements and for a range of other reasons, such as:
- ensuring safety and reliability of their products and services
- complying with regulations, often at a lower cost
- defining and controlling internal processes
- meeting environmental objectives
Businesses committed to following quality management standards are often more able to:
- increase their profits
- reduce losses or costs across the business
- improve their competitiveness
- gain market access across the world
- increase consumer loyalty
See also advantages of quality management systems.
Examples of quality management standards
ISO international standards are by far the most widely accepted set of quality standards in the world. ISO 9001:2015 specifies the requirements for a quality management system that businesses can use to develop their own quality agenda.
See also ISO 9001 quality management standard.
Other standards related to quality include:
- the remaining ISO 9000 family, including ISO 9000 and ISO 9004
- the ISO 14000 family for environmental management systems
- ISO 13485 for medical devices
- ISO 19011 for auditing management systems
- ISO/TS 16949 for automotive-related products
Standards can be very specific, applying to a particular type of product, or general such as wide-ranging management practices. Find a list of ISO management system standards.
Use of standards may be voluntary, but certain groups of customers or stakeholders may expect it. Also, some organisations and government bodies may require suppliers and partners to comply with standards as a condition of doing business.
Other types of best practice standards
Standards can help you to achieve best practice in a wide range of business activities, not just quality management. For example:
- accessibility standards - can help make services or premises accessible to disabled users
- occupational health and safety standards - can help reduce accidents in the workplace
- information security standards - can help keep sensitive information secure
- food safety standards - can help prevent food from being contaminated
- environmental management standards - can reduce environmental impact and waste
- energy management standards - can help cut energy consumption
See how to make best use of standards.