Want to create and implement a quality management system (QMS) for your growing company but don’t know where to start? Let’s take a closer look at what a QMS is, its benefits, how to successfully implement one in your organization, and more.

Table of contents
  1. What Is a Quality Management System (QMS)?
  2. The Benefits of Using Quality Management Systems
  3. The Different Types of QMS?
  4. The Core Elements & Requirements of a QMS
  5. Steps to Establishing & Implementing a QMS 
  6. The Biggest QMS Obstacles and How to Avoid Them
  7. What’s the Difference Between QMS and Quality Assurance (QA)?
  8. The Bottom Line On Quality Management Systems 

Isn’t it the dream of every company to maximize productivity, deliver top-notch products and services to satisfied customers, and constantly identify and seize opportunities for improvement? While it may sound too good to be true, a quality management system (QMS) can make this a reality. 

However, this is easier said than done. Many companies struggle with successfully implementing these complex systems. And that’s exactly why we are here to back you up!

To make it all a whole lot easier, this complete beginner’s guide will give you all the know-how on what a quality management system is, its benefits, and how you can successfully create and implement one in your company.

Let’s dive into it!

What Is a Quality Management System (QMS)?

Let’s start from the beginning and answer the question, what is a quality management system actually?

QMS – meaning a quality management system – is a system that documents the policies, procedures, and controls necessary for an organization to continually improve the quality of its products or services, ensuring that customer expectations and requirements are met or exceeded.

More simply put, a quality management system helps a company coordinate and direct its activities to meet customer and regulatory requirements and continuously improve its operation’s effectiveness and efficiency.

The Benefits of Using Quality Management Systems

Implementing a quality management system can positively affect every aspect of your organization’s performance. The main benefits include:

  • Fulfilling customer requirements: This helps to build trust in your company, which strengthens and grows your client base, sales, and repeated business.
  • Complying with organizational requirements: This ensures that your company complies with policies and regulations and provides its products and services in the most cost- and resource-efficient way. This creates space for growth and more profits.
  • The opportunity for continual improvement: Tracking your operations and customer satisfaction will give you insights into what changes are needed to ensure that your product or services are of the highest quality. This will reduce any customer complaints and returns, saving you time and money in the long run.

These benefits offer further advantages, including:

  • Clearly defined, central quality control policies.
  • Coherent and standardized processes.
  • Growth in productivity.
  • More effective usage of company resources.
  • Lowered costs.
  • Improved company and employee morale, engagement, and understanding of individual contribution.
  • The conveyed readiness to produce consistent results.
  • The ability to identify flaws, production and customer satisfaction gaps, and issues within processes, goals, or functions.
  • High potential to identify training opportunities.
  • Increased employee collaboration to meet customer expectations.

The Different Types of QMS?

Each company has its unique set of products or services, goals, industry standards, and more. And so there are also many different types of quality management systems out there to meet these diverse needs, namely: 

  • Standardized Systems: These quality management systems follow a set of federal codes and regulations. These include ISO certifications, such as ISO 9001, ISO 14001, ISO 22000, ISO 13485, and ISO 45001.
  • Total Quality Management (TQM): This approach emphasizes quality throughout every aspect of a business. It aims to develop quality products and services in the long term by breaking down every process and activity to determine how it affects the organization’s efficiency and quality goals. 
  • Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI): This QMS focuses on constant quality improvement, emphasizing the contribution of teams and individuals rather than on processes and functions. 
  • Six Sigma: This approach uses statistics and data to analyze and reduce the likelihood of errors or defects. It does this in five phases: defining, measuring, analyzing, improving, and controlling. 

The Core Elements & Requirements of a QMS

A quality management system is composed of multiple elements that each help you meet the requirements of your customers and organization. While quality management systems should address a company’s unique needs, the aspects every QMS should have include:

Quality Policy & Objectives

Your quality policy defines what quality means within your company, allowing you to set expectations. Quality objectives link customer requirements and specific, measurable, and attainable goals, translating your company’s vision into practice.

Quality Manual:

This is a document that describes your company’s quality management system. According to ISO (International Organization for Standardization) 9000 requirements, it should include:

  1. A complete description of the QMS’s scope.
  2. Full details on every requirement of the ISO 9001 Standard.
  3. Details on and explanations of any QMS elements that could not be applied and were excluded from the implementation.
  4. References for the specific quality procedures used within the organization.
  5. A flowchart illustrating the series and interactions among your primary business processes.
  6. The company’s quality policies and objectives that show that it is fully committed to quality.

Company Structure and Responsibilities Model

This should be a clear and updated chart of your organization’s structure and each individual’s defined roles and responsibilities that can be connected to standard operating procedures. This document should address the complete product or service lifecycle. 

Data Management

To have a successful quality management system framework, you must have meaningful quality data available. Your data management policy should cover data types, collection methods, sources, responsibilities, storage, deletion, and evaluation.

The data types should cover:

  • Customer satisfaction
  • Supplier quality
  • Product or service and process tracking
  • Non-conformances
  • Trends
  • Corrective or preventative measures

Processes

The approach of quality management systems to quality control is to put standardized, repeatable processes in place. Quality management standards require companies to pinpoint and define all of their operations. This creates a comprehensive picture of your company’s processes and how these interact with resources such as employees, equipment, or technology. 

Based on these definitions, companies can formulate process standards, create success measuring methods, use a standardized approach to ensure quality output, and work toward constant improvement.

Constant Improvement Opportunities

Creating processes for continued improvement requires clear documentation of controls across the company, including of:

  • QMS planning
  • Quality objectives
  • Compliance requirements
  • Safety design
  • Risk & opportunity-based thinking
  • Non-conformity & corrective action (CAPA)
  • Gradual improvement & breakthrough innovation
  • Evaluation & inspection of the QMS

Customer Satisfaction

One of the main elements of QMS is the requirement for companies to track customer satisfaction to verify that the quality standards of their product or service are met. 

To correctly measure customer satisfaction, it is necessary to define the appropriate methods for measuring customer attitudes and complaints. Such methods can include customer satisfaction surveys and complaint procedures.

Quality Tools

The QMS should dictate a clear policy for the maintenance of each tool used to measure quality based on nationally or internationally recognized standards. This policy should, for instance, include recognized standards for instrument calibration and guidelines for identifying and recording calibration.

Using software to standardize the use of digital reports and checklists for such tasks is very helpful. 

Document Control & Management

A quality management system defines standards for the types of documentation needed for quality management, such as a quality policy, a quality manual, processes, and record-keeping. You must have the proper documentation to prove QMS performance.

Field worker using Connecteam's employee management app to access QMS documents

Steps to Establishing & Implementing a QMS 

The basic steps to establish and implement your quality management system are:

1. Design & Build 

During the design and build phase, you set out your QMS’s structure, processes, and implementation plans. Senior management should oversee this step to ensure that the QMS’s development is influenced by the businesses’ objectives, needs, provided products and services, and customer needs. 

First, compose three defining documents: your QMS scope, quality policy, and QMS objectives. Then create the necessary resources needed to implement QMS procedures. These include process maps and flowcharts with detailed work instructions and an organizational structure detailing roles and responsibilities throughout product development or service delivery.

During this phase, ensure testing procedures for quality assurance align with quality standards and develop metrics to monitor and measure success.

2. Deploy

You can best deploy your quality management system in stages. Some excellent practices to consider during each phase are:

  • Before deployment, share information and quality manuals on the particular processes with your staff and request feedback.
  • Educate and train your employees on the relevant tools and systems.
  • Train department managers on your document control procedures.
  • Instruct process owners on the tracking metrics.

Company intranets and software can be extremely helpful in assisting in the deployment of quality management systems. Connecteam’s all-in-one employee management software, for instance, gives you all the tools you need. With it, you can share important documents and information, easily create and track training, manage workflows, and more, no matter where your employees are working from.

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3. Control & Measure

Properly controlling and measuring the effectiveness of your quality management system are mainly done by performing regular, systematic inspections of the QMS. Internal auditing will show which processes align with your company’s quality policy and operational objectives. It also points out any possible weaknesses of process controls. 

Based on these findings, management can decide if and which improvements you need to make.

4. Review & Improve

After the quality management system has been in operation for a set amount of time, conduct a management review to measure the QMS’s effectiveness. Collect information from:

This allows you to initiate corrective actions more efficiently and helps you identify processes that don’t sufficiently contribute to achieving your quality objectives.

The Biggest QMS Obstacles and How to Avoid Them

Let’s look at some of the biggest stumbling blocks in implementing quality management systems and how to avoid them.

1. Disorganization

A lack of organization negatively impacts every aspect of your business, the most critical being document control. As documents drive nearly every action within a company, it becomes hard and tedious to track, monitor, update, access, find, and share critical documents. This leaves room for mistakes, wastes valuable time, decreases employee morale, and makes it hard to attain your company goals for productivity, quality, and profitability.

Overcome this obstacle using a document management system that best suits your company’s needs and goals. Connecteam’s document management software, for instance, allows you to easily upload, access, and share important documents and files for your employees to access wherever, wherever.

2. Too Much Work, Not Enough Staff

Understaffed companies often face issues such as employee dissatisfaction, increased employee turnover rates, unfinished work, and frequent mistakes. This, in turn, can lead to poorer quality, deviation from the quality management system, failed inspections, decreased customer satisfaction, and reduced sales and profits.

Overcome this obstacle by hiring more qualified employees if this fits within your budget. Another option is to find ways to boost your company’s efficiency so that your staff is not overworked. This can help improve morale, reduce errors, and increase productivity and the quality of your output.

3. Resistance to Change

As implementing a quality management system requires making many changes, your employees’ cooperation and assistance are crucial to its success. And as it is part of human nature to resist change, the key is understanding that it is less about changing human nature and more about addressing the main reason behind the resistance.

Overcome this obstacle by accepting that it is a natural response. You will need to communicate effectively and recognize that change can be challenging by celebrating small wins and accepting that failure is part of the process.

4. Lacking a Well-Thought-Out Plan:

Like doing many other things in life without a proper plan, implementing a quality management system too without one is a recipe for disaster. Yet many businesses attempt to implement a QMS without having a well-thought-out plan and fail.

Overcome this obstacle by creating a plan. This may be easier said than done if you are new to quality management and all the rules, regulations, guidelines, and concepts that come with it. 

To make it a bit simpler, focus on what your business goals and values are and what your customers want. These are your quality management implementation plan’s touchstones to help you decide how a guideline, rule, or regulation applies to your company. 

What’s the Difference Between QMS and Quality Assurance (QA)?

Quality assurance (QA) is a component of quality management rather than one independent from it. QA is any systematic process to determine whether a product or service meets specified requirements. It creates and maintains requirements for developing, producing, or delivering reliable products or services. 

Beyond creating the framework for a structured approach for QA, a quality management system also analyzes processes, improves functionality, and enables the relevant staff to reach the highest possible level of quality.

The Bottom Line On Quality Management Systems 

To sum it all up, establishing and implementing a quality management system in your company enables you to assure that your products or services are of the highest quality, boost customer satisfaction, comply with organizational requirements, and get on the path for constant improvement and growth. 

Now equipped with all the tips and tricks on how to successfully get one up and running for your company, all you need to do is get started! Good luck!

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