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Quality Management Systems, much more than a badge on the wall

Quality Management Systems, much more than a badge on the wall


With thousands of quality management systems available, IDG’s Stephen Bromley talks us through some of them - what they are, what to look out for and how they can help your business to improve, develop and grow.   


If you were to google quality management, you would be faced with a whole host of search results offering quality or management systems standards – many of which quote an array of letters, abbreviations and numbers. And frankly, it can be a bit baffling at first.

But don’t let that put you off as Standards can be extremely useful tools to help you run and manage your business in a better, more efficient and cost effective way.

Understanding the why as well as the how to
Like with most things, you can approach a Standard in two ways. You can use it to support your business objectives and delve deep into your systems, or do things by numbers and only tick the boxes that need to be ticked without really understanding the wider context.

For example, joining a gym just so can talk to your friends about it (rather than go) probably won’t mean you get fitter. But joining and then going for regular workouts with the aim of a healthier lifestyle will bring numerous positive benefits… and you can still talk to your friends about it, but from a more positive, leaner, stronger and fitter perspective.

Management systems standards are exactly the same. If you just want to work towards a standard for the badge, then that’s generally all you will get – meaning you have potentially wasted time, money and effort as you will probably not realise the full benefits. You are also more likely to feel frustrated because the process felt long winded, bureaucratic and generally unhelpful.

But by working with a Standard and understanding why and how it links to your organisational aims as a whole, you will reap much more than the badge in return. For example, you can achieve more insight and relevancy to support your business direction, processes and decisions. The standard will be more helpful and almost a live resource for you to work with rather than just a hurdle to jump every year or so.

Management Systems: 8 Key Benefits
So what can a management systems standard help with? From my experience, I believe they can help with 8 key areas.

  1. They can help you focus on your customers, what they want and expect from you
  2. They can help you to explore the effectiveness of leadership in supporting quality as a fundamental part of your business
  3. They can support the involvement of your people and how it is crucial that everyone understands and delivers on your promises
  4. Adopting a process approach can help you manage related activities and resources, building a consistent ‘right first time, every time’ culture
  5. Efficiency (and effectiveness) comes from a system approach and the understanding of how processes interrelate and influence one another 
  6. They can also help you to make continuous improvement an organisational competency, encouraging a culture of innovation and creativity
  7. They can help to provide valuable insight and support you in taking a factual approach to decision making
  8. Mutually beneficial supplier relationships can be achieved, helping to create value

So what’s available?
There are literally thousands of different standards out there and too many to even try to explain here. However, IDG supports organisations to work with some of the most recognised – and in my opinion, beneficial – standards. Here’s a brief summary.

  • ISO 9001 is the internationally recognised Quality Management Systems Standard, one of the most commonly adopted Standards out there. ISO 9001 demonstrates a commitment to quality and customer satisfaction, as well as continuous improvement. It looks for a systematic control of activities to ensure that your customer’s needs and expectations are met.
  • ISO 14001 is designed to help you control and reduce your impact on the environment, as well as ensure your legal compliance. Having an environmental management system in place is a way to ensure that you continually consider all aspects of your business operations – whether they have or could potentially have an impact on the environment.
  • BS OHAS 18001 is an Occupational Health and Safety Management System that aims to promote a safe and healthy working environment, allowing you to consistently identify and control any related risks. It will also help you to support legislative compliance.
  • ISO 27001 can be used to keep your business information secure. It looks for the identification and classification of information, the consideration of threats and controlling availability as well as how you protect confidentiality.
  • Lexcel is the Law Society’s Practice Management Standard, developed specifically for the legal sector. It aims to enhance the delivery of legal services for customers, improving overall practice management and supporting employee morale and motivation.
  • Customer Service Excellence offers a framework to support improved customer service – exploring areas such as service delivery, customer insight and how service satisfaction is measured.
  • BS 76000 is a very new standard focused on Human Resources – Valuing Talent. The standard provides a framework for understanding the intrinsic value of people. In addition to statutory legal and regulatory protections, the Standard is designed to help companies and the people they employ to benefit from a more equal and sustainable working relationship.

So as I mentioned earlier, although management systems and standards can seem baffling don’t let it put you off exploring them. Work with the right standards and in the most beneficial way and they have the potential to really support your business ambitions.


At IDG, we can offer advice, training and guidance to help you explore quality management systems such as those mentioned above, giving you confidence that your investment in the standard is linked to your business performance and ambition.

Alongside implementation packages, we can also help you to explore your organisational culture and behaviours to make sure your systems and why you are introducing them are understood and valued by all.

If you would like to improve your systems with management standards and find out more about the services we can offer to help, please get in touch or explore our Improving Systems pages here.