Quality standards are designed to prevent losses and improve compliance. Using tools such as quality management software will offer methods for companies to measure products, services, processes, procedures, and production and keep employees informed about quality goals.
What Are Quality Standards?
Quality standards establish guidelines for how a business manages its key activities. Also known as quality requirements, these specifications reflect the quality of a company’s products and services.
Businesses will put quality standards into practice in order to ensure that quality matches expectations, that quality is “fit for purpose”, and for overall customer satisfaction. Indirectly, quality standards can also satisfy other customer requirements, including safety and reliability, regulation compliance, controlling internal processes, and being on par with environmental standards.
Quality standards help ensure that products and services are free from defects and deficiencies. These standards help ensure that a company will routinely provide a high-quality product. Most businesses will create internal rules or documents that outline the quality assurance standards that employees must adhere to.
Components Within Quality Standards
Quality standards are a part of the quality management process, which consists of guidelines that ensure a high quality of work is performed by a team or company when producing goods and services. The components of a quality management process include:
- Quality Planning: Design a process that will be able to meet established goals under operating conditions. Define opportunity and stakeholder’s needs and establish performance measures based on those needs.
- Continuous Improvement: Quality improvement, or a continuous improvement process, is an ongoing effort to improve products and services. Quality management can make employees more organized and coordinated leading to improvement in efficiency.
- Quality Control: Review the quality of all production factors that are focused on fulfilling quality requirements. Helps ensure manufactured products or performed services adhere to a defined set of quality criteria.
- Quality Assurance: Determine whether a product or service meets specified requirements prior to being delivered to a customer. Establish and maintain requirements for the development and manufacturing process to meet contractual and other agreed-upon performance, design, reliability, and maintainability expectations.
Who Uses Quality Standards?
Companies and organizations use quality standards to ensure their products and services meet the needs of their customers. Any industry that produces goods or services can take advantage of quality standards offered through quality management systems.
- Manufacturers use quality standards via audits and certifications to ensure consistent quality in their products. The quality of their products is more well known and examined by their customers, and poor quality can lead to poor sales.
- Service industries use quality standards to track sales targets and control consumer feedback by providing good efficiency.
- Healthcare uses quality standards to avoid harm to patients and provide quality care to adhere to patient preferences. Can also be used to shorten wait times and avoid waste of equipment and supplies.
- Construction companies use ISO standards to run a cost-effective business while preventing workplace injuries and ensuring regulatory compliance surrounding energy use and green building.
Examples of Quality Standards
Quality standards provide organizations with a shared goal, knowledge, guidelines, and language that is needed to meet their customer’s expectations.
Standards can be broken down into principles as well as specific guidelines for compliance.
Standards such as ISO 9000 are internationally recognized specifications within quality management systems. Many businesses may seek out credited auditors who are authorized to award a certificate of compliance with the ISO 9001 standard.
Examples of Quality Standards include:
- ISO 9000 Quality Management System Standards: Helps organizations ensure they meet customer and stakeholder needs within statutory and regulatory requirements.
- ISO 14000 Environmental Management System Standards: Helps organizations minimize how their operations negatively affect the environment by complying with applicable laws, regulations, and other environmentally oriented requirements.
- ISO 22000 Food Safety Management System Standards: An international standard that provides safe products in the food supply chain industry by controlling food safety hazards.
- ISO 27000 Information Security Management System Standards: Manages information risks by implementing security control for information systems.
- ISO 50001 Energy Management System Standards: Develops policies for efficient use of energy by fixing targets and objectives to meet policy and better understand data regarding energy use.
Other Quality Standards
- ISO 9001: Sets out the criteria for a quality management system and is the only standard in the family that can be certified (although this is not a requirement). It can be used by any organization, large or small, regardless of its field of activity
- API Q1/Q2: Standards specific to the oil and gas industry that are similar in nature to ISO 9001. API W2 has the explicit requirement for contingency planning. Both API Q1/Q2 makes the distinction between corrective and preventative action (something ISO 9001 does not)
- ISO 13485: Similar to ISO 9001 but for medical devices. Has the specific requirement for software validation and requires validation reports to verify for the auditor that it will work as intended. Includes requirement for CFR 21 specific electronic signatures
- ISO 50001: Energy management standard for addressing the energy consumption and use of an organization
- ISO 27001: Information security, similar to ISO 9001 but with a change in focus to data security and integrity vs product quality
- ISO 45001: Health and safety, similar to ISO 9001 but with a change in focus to employee safety vs product quality
- ISO 14001: Health and safety, similar to ISO 9001 but with a change in focus to environmental concerns vs product quality
- ISO 17025: Laboratory testing and calibration
- ASME: Highly focused on product specifications and work instructions. Little emphasis on standard QMS requirements such as nonconformities and corrective action
There are a total of 7 quality management principles that can help guarantee your organization will be successful. These fundamental beliefs, rules, and values are accepted as true and known to provide improvement to the quality management processes of an organization.
- Customer Focus: Meet customer expectations and the needs of all interested parties
- Leadership: Create conditions in which people are engaged achieving the organization’s quality goals. Communicate the strategic direction and objectives throughout the organization. Encourage the organization’s commitment to quality.
- Engagement of people: Enhance the capability to create and deliver value through competent, empowered, and engaged employees.
- Process Approach: Focus on key processes, align systems through these processes, optimize the performance of resources, reduce cross-functional barriers, and uphold a sense of consistency, effectiveness, and efficiency.
- Improvement: Maintain an ongoing focus on improvement. Monitor, audit, and review the completion and results. Promote and establish improvement objectives at all levels of the organization. Improvement will help identify risks and handle root cause elimination.
- Evidence-Based Decision Making: Make decisions based on analysis and evaluation of data. Determine and monitor what your key data sources are. Understand the cause-and-effect relationships. Make decisions and take actions based on evidence.
- Relationship Management: Identify and build relationships with the relevant stakeholders that influence the performance of an organization.