Quality management system
By having a quality management system, you can steer the quality of your business and use the resources of your company more efficiently. For example, you can use the international ISO 9000 standards as a framework. Companies of all types and sizes can have a quality management system. Remember to document the system in accordance with the needs of your company.
The purpose of the quality management system is to create practices for your company that help you to meet the quality requirements of your customers.
The quality management system is a management system in which the aim is to
- put the management and control of your company's operations on a systematic basis
- ensure customer satisfaction and a high and even quality of your products
- create uniform practices and innovative solutions
- improve the competence, motivation and efficiency of your personnel
- keep the quality costs of your company under control
- improve work productivity and give your company a competitive advantage
- find out what your company can deliver in terms of quality.
Many of the quality management systems are based on the international ISO 9000 standards. The ISO 9001 standard is considered particularly reliable because an external agency can certify your quality system on the basis of the requirements set out in the standard. With the certificates based on the standards, you can show your customers that your operations meet your stakeholders’ requirements, needs and expectations.
For more information on quality standards, contact the Finnish Standards Association.
Companies of all types and sizes can have a quality management system. Large companies usually have more need for systematic management of their quality matters. Large companies also need a more complex and comprehensive system than small companies.
In small companies, the focus in quality management is often on improving work productivity and customer satisfaction. In large companies, the focus is on creating uniform practices and systematic management and control of operations.
A certified quality management system is usually a voluntary arrangement. However, in practice, it is a basic requirement in many sectors, especially in large companies. In a number of sectors, such as the manufacturing of medical equipment, companies are required to have a certified quality management system for safety reasons.
Implementing and developing a quality management system depends on the system that you are constructing. The basic principles are the same for all systems.
You must ensure that the company management is committed to the system. The management is responsible for ensuring that the operations meet all requirements and that the system is continuously developed.
You should first define the mission, vision, core values as well as the quality policy and objectives of your company. Identify the needs and expectations of the key stakeholder groups. Determine the role of these factors in the operations of your company and in its risk management.
Define and describe the most important processes that your company uses in the interaction with its customers. Set out the requirements and objectives for your processes and products. Allocate adequate resources for the purpose. Determine what should be measured and monitored. Document your quality management system.
Finally, organise your operations so that they are in accordance with your process descriptions. Train your personnel so that they can understand the purpose of the system. Monitor and measure the system and develop it on a continuous basis.
If necessary, take a closer look at the standards of the ISO 9000 series. Compare their requirements with your company's system and make the necessary changes to it. Contact a certification company, if you want to certify your quality management system. The certification company also controls that your company observes the standards.
A quality management system must always be documented. You should adjust the structure, form and content of the document to the needs of your company. Sometimes it is enough to use only work instructions as the documentation.
The following matters are often described in the documentation of the quality management system:
- the core values and principles of the company (mission, vision, strategies and quality policy)
- cooperation practices and processes (teams and networks)
- work instructions, tools and descriptions of working practices (working methods, quality requirements, responsibilities and powers)
- external material concerning work processes (equipment manuals).
You can also describe the purpose, objectives and operating principles of your system. You should also document definitions and abbreviations as well as the updating and approval instructions.
Using the measurement results and checklists included in the document, you can demonstrate to your customers that your products meet their requirements and expectations.
If your company observes the ISO 9000 standard, the documentation must also be in accordance with the standard. For more information on the standards and the requirements laid out in them, contact the Finnish Standards Association.
Make the documentation part of your company's day-to-day operations.