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So what is a Quality Management System (QMS)?

By Luis Mtz

There is a lot of information about QMS out there in the literature, but most people confuse QMS (and not to blame them) with an ISO standard.

It’s not that QMS is an ISO standard, but an ISO standard is a QMS.

QMS is comprised of 3 words: Quality, Management, System. Basically, its combination can be stated as “a system to manage the quality of…” a product, a service.

Being so, there are some popular systems to manage quality, which are frameworks that are guides on how to approach the management of quality, some of them being:

  • TQM (Total Quality Management)
  • ISO 9001
  • Six Sigma
  • LEAN
  • TOC (Theory of Constraints)
  • Agile

So, basically, a QMS is a structured collection of Policies, Processes and Procedures that are maintained and controlled, and whose purpose can range from Process improvement, to Waste reduction, all with the goal to fulfill the Customer Quality Expectations with the optimum use of resources.

Now, the control of all of this information requires proper resources, from manual administration of paper, to electronic databases, html administration, ERP integration, and all technology out there to fully control all of this documentation.

Some key components

While each quality management system will be unique to the industry and organization, there are key components to a QMS. Some of them:

  • The organization’s quality policy and quality objectives
  • Quality manual
  • Procedures, instructions, and records
  • Process approach
  • Control directives (Example: Plan-Do-Check-Act)
  • Continual Improvement

Implementing a QMS

There are many things to consider when establishing a QMS. Among them of high importance are the identification of all interconnected processes and their role in the organization’s varying objectives.

The structure of the key processes involved is largely based on the PDCA cycle.

Basic steps:


  • Design
  • Build
  • Deploy
  • Control
  • Measure
  • Review
  • Improve


So, If you are need a framework to guide your company to successfully manage your quality objectives, find the proper philosophy that you feel applies to your company.

ISO 9001:2015 is by far the most recognized and implemented quality management system standard in the world, but, ultimately, your QMS is specific to each company’s philosophy and needs.

About the author: Luis Martinez

Luis Martinez is a Computer Systems Engineer, Mathematician, Applications Developer, Business Analyst, Operations Researcher, and holds certifications from Cisco, Microsoft, APICS, among others.

He’s also an Ultrarunner, Martial Arts practitioner, Pencil artist, Musician, Juggler, Entrepreneur, Author, Speaker, and an avid reader.

His interests includes Psychology, Neurology, Nutrition, History, Fractals, Statistics, Behaviorism, Robotics, and a wide range of topics.

References:, ISO 9001:2015 (en),, 2015

tcmc Quality Management Services, What is a Quality Management System (QMS)?,, What Is Quality Management System? – Definition & Examples,, 2017, What Is a Quality Management System (QMS)? — ISO 9001 & Other Quality Management Systems,, 2017, Fundamentals of quality management systems as per ISO 9000,, 2017
Michael Baudin, MIT article comparing Lean, TQM, Six Sigma, “and related enterprise process improvement methods”, Michael Baudin’s Blog, 2017

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This entry was posted on October 12, 2017 by in QC and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , .
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