Quality Management System (QMS)

Discover what a quality management system is, how it can boost efficiency in the workplace, and how to implement it in your organization.

manager inspecting facility for quality management system

Published 19 Jul 2022

What is a Quality Management System (QMS)?

A Quality Management System or a QMS is a well-defined system that companies use to document and implement certain processes and procedures. A QMS can help organizations keep track of everything that goes into meeting quality standards and organizational goals.

Companies implement their own QMS to help coordinate and direct all of the organization’s actions to make sure they meet their own quality standards. Additionally, a quality management system, when implemented properly can aid in improving overall efficiency and a company’s ability to meet quality standards consistently.

Origins

The roots of quality management date all the way back to medieval times, when people with the title of master craftsman were known to produce higher-quality goods than other people. However, the modern quality management system started to take shape in the post-war era in Japan.

In the 1950s and 60s, Japan needed to rebuild its economy. This is when manufacturers started to focus on quality and making high-quality products at a lower cost. Around this time companies like Toyota figured out different quality management systems such as the A3 Lean methodology, Kaizen, and the Toyota Production System, among others, to ensure that they were meeting quotas and quality standards without spending too much money.

Nowadays, companies are incorporating modern technology and big data to further improve their QMS to make sure they always target their goals.

Benefits of a QMS

So, why would an organization want to implement a QMS in the first place? Well to start, consumers always demand quality from their products. And if a company wants to drive sales and meet its quotas, it has to ensure that its products are of good quality for its customers.

This is the primary benefit of a QMS, as these systems make it easier for companies to consistently meet quality goals. Making sure that the products meet a certain quality standard ensures that customers will keep buying products and the company’s reputation remains good.

But from there, a QMS offers additional benefits. Some of these benefits include:

  • Putting the organization in the right direction
  • Documenting processes and making sure they all go to plan
  • Improving different manufacturing processes
  • Reducing company waste
  • Lowering production costs
  • Increasing overall efficiency
  • Reducing the number of mistakes

When it comes to quality management, you don’t just need a set of standards and goals to follow. On top of that, it’s very important that you have a system in place that allows the organization to make sure that all the processes lead to high-quality products that satisfy customer needs.

4 Types of Quality Management Systems

There are currently 4 major types of quality management systems that companies have in place. Each type of QMS has its own set of benefits that would make them ideal for different industries. Here are the 4 major types of quality management systems you can find in these organizations:

ISO 9001

Currently, the ISO 9001:2015 standard is what people look at when referring to quality management systems. This is the global standard that companies follow when building a QMS.

China has the most ISO 9001 certificates, with over 324,621 valid certificates in the country in a study conducted in 2021. However, the standard is used worldwide by many different countries.

An ISO 9001 QMS aims to:

  • Document and identify the different processes
  • Ensure the right resources are directed at the QMS
  • Provide descriptions for sequences and actions

An ISO 9001 QMS provides organizations with:

  • A means of measuring performance
  • Ways to improve their QMS
  • A way to judge the effectiveness of different processes

While ISO 9001 is sometimes used interchangeably with QMS, the ISO 9001:2015 standard is simply a type of QMS, which is very important to note.

AS9100

This QMS is for the aerospace industry and was specifically designed for it. This system takes elements of ISO 9001-9004 but adds specific elements designed for making aerospace products. There are also additional provisions in place to make the QMS comprehensively covers the military aviation and aerospace industries.

The AS9100 QMS aims to:

  • Bring down the number of defects in the chain
  • Improve the product quality
  • Reduce the amount of time spent on quality management
  • Reduce production costs

Six Sigma

The Six Sigma QMS was originally designed for organizations with high-volume production and manufacturing needs. This QMS aims to measure quality, but it’s not a system designed to ensure the company always meets its quality standards.

CMMI

This stands for Capability Maturity Model Integration. This QMS consists of five maturity stages that describe the quality capabilities of a company. CMMI is seen as a “granular” QMS that can offer more detail than ISO 9001, which is why this is another widely-used type of QMS.

Elements of a QMS

A QMS may look different for every company. This is because a QMS needs to be designed with an organization’s needs and goals in mind. So, the elements of your QMS may vary depending on the goals of your organization, the requirements of your industry, and local regulations that may require a certain level of quality. With that said, almost every QMS will have certain elements in it.

These elements are crucial for any QMS, regardless of the type of industry. So, when crafting a QMS for an organization, it’s important to include the following elements:

  • The overall goals and needs of a company
  • A well-made quality manual
  • The processes involved in manufacturing
  • Customer satisfaction levels
  • Instructions and procedures
  • Ways to improve the overall quality
  • Data management techniques

Again, these are just the key elements of a QMS. So, the specific elements of the QMS for your organization may vary depending on what you aim to do and how you want to improve the quality.

How to Implement a QMS

Implementing a QMS requires company-wide cooperation. For a quality management system to work, the organization needs to be firing on all cylinders. On top of that, the team also needs to constantly work towards finding ways to improve and enhance their QMS.

With that said, implementing a QMS can be much easier with the help of different quality management tools. These include charts, graphs, and other things that can relay the QMS’ message more effectively. And in this day and age, there are tons of tools that can bring your QMS into the future by digitizing different aspects of the QMS while also ensuring that everything is going to plan.

SafetyCulture staff writer

Leon Altomonte

Leon Altomonte is a content contributor for SafetyCulture. He got into content writing while taking up a language degree and has written copy for various web pages and blogs. Aside from working as a freelance writer, Leon is also a musician who spends most of his free time playing gigs and at the studio.

Leon Altomonte is a content contributor for SafetyCulture. He got into content writing while taking up a language degree and has written copy for various web pages and blogs. Aside from working as a freelance writer, Leon is also a musician who spends most of his free time playing gigs and at the studio.