Quality Management Systems

The ISO Quality standard is probably the best known and one of the most widely used quality management standards around the world.

The standard is designed to help organizations ensure that they meet the needs of customers and other stakeholders while meeting statutory and regulatory requirements related to the product.

The current format of the standard was released in 1987 and the most recent is dated 2008. The standard is based on earlier versions which go back to the 1960s. The standard is published by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and has been adopted by many countries for local application.

The 9001 standard is widely accepted in Australia and New Zealand and implemented across many industries. Whilst the standard was initially designed for manufacturing it has been updated and has now been successfully implemented by many service businesses.

One of the quality requirements worth noting is that quality organizations should monitor the quality of the services provided them by suppliers. This is of particular relevance to recruitment agencies.

The principal outcome of a quality management system is "continual improvement". This means that once the organization has identified its objectives for quality it should then plan how to achieve these objectives, work towards them, monitor performance against them and make improvements as required. There are various approaches but one which has withstood the test of time is the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle. Click here for the Certex view of the standard and its link to the PDCA cycle.

An effective quality management system involves many different parts of the business. It starts at "the top" with management commitment, and includes understanding customer needs, ensuring worker competency, keeping records, and reviewing performance. Here is a summary of the key 9001 quality requirements: (Source:

  • The quality policy is a formal statement from management, closely linked to the business and marketing plan and to customer needs.
  • The quality policy is understood and followed at all levels and by all employees. Each employee works towards measurable objectives.
  • The business makes decisions about the quality system based on recorded data.
  • The quality system is regularly audited and evaluated for conformance and effectiveness.
  • Records show how and where raw materials and products were processed to allow products and problems to be traced to the source.
  • The business determines customer requirements.
  • The business has created systems for communicating with customers about product information, inquiries, contracts, orders, feedback, and complaints.
  • When developing new products, the business plans the stages of development, with appropriate testing at each stage. It tests and documents whether the product meets design requirements, regulatory requirements, and user needs.
  • The business regularly reviews performance through internal audits and meetings. The business determines whether the quality system is working and what improvements can be made. It has a documented procedure for internal audits.
  • The business deals with past problems and potential problems. It keeps records of these activities and the resulting decisions, and monitors their effectiveness.
  • The business has documented procedures for dealing with actual and potential nonconformances (problems involving suppliers, customers, or internal problems).
  • The business:
    • makes sure no one uses a bad product,
    • determines what to do with a bad product,
    • deals with the root cause of problems, and
    • keeps records to use as a tool to improve the system.

Certex specializes in providing certification services to recruitment and other professional service industries. The 9001 quality standard can be adopted either on its own or as part of an integrated management system including AS/NZS 4801, the RCSA SDS, NSW Health standard or others.

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