Seven Pillars of Quality

Quality over quantity. Why? Because Quality drives Quantity.

In this blog, we look at the Seven Pillars of Quality with ISO 9001 and how the Quality Management System Standard can both optimise your business and improve your company’s bank balance.

Quality – “the standard of something as measured against other things of a similar kind; the degree of excellence of something.” The ISO Quality standard is the best in class of its ilk. A world leader, it is an unparalleled benchmark for product and service excellence. No other methodology or process-based measure comes close to its thoroughness and effectiveness. Built upon seven strategic pillars or principles, ISO 9001 is predominantly people-focussed – on leaders, employees, partners as well as key stakeholders, but at the heart of its raison d’être is the customer. For ISO 9001, the customer is king, and the primary objective of any business should and must be client-centricity and customer excellence. Needless to say, the above-mentioned seven pillars are very much people-focused and include:
  1. Continuous Improvement
  2. Customer Centricity
  3. Evidence-based Decision Making & Planning
  4. Leadership
  5. Process-Based Approach
  6. Relationship Management
  7. Stakeholder Engagement
Adoptees of ISO Standards are best served by adopting, adhering to and planning around the core principles of each particular standard. By working to the rationale behind the seven pillars, organisations can leverage them to drive optimal results.

Continuous Improvement

Striving to constantly improve business process, operations and strategy, the organisation puts itself in a position of strength. Being aware of the need for change means your business can react quickly and strongly to volatile markets, shift in customer spend and emerging trends.

For an organisation to remain competitive, the Quality Management System (QMS) is key to driving effective change and achieving seamless evolution in line with ever-changing customer needs and market demands.

Constant improvement is the new staying one step ahead.

Customer Centricity

Customer Centricity

As mentioned above, in the corporate world of ISO 9001, the customer is king.

When ISO 9001 was itself “improved” in 2015, the result was an even greater shifting up of gears when it came to customer focus, with the ultimate aim being the attainment of optimal customer service excellence.

The key objective of this principle is to both meet and exceed customer needs. By bringing value-add to each engagement or project or by working to product best of breed product, your business  is putting the customer at the centre of its operations – processes, people and planning.

The word customer is a global term, used to include both direct and non-direct clients. It is mindful that our immediate client is not necessarily the “end user” and so encourages organisations to make provision for all “customers” at all stages of production and service delivery.

Evidence-based Decision Making & Planning

Fail to prepare, prepare to fail is a motto most of us are familiar with. But what is preparation without facts, knowledge and understanding. Uninformed decisions are not just unprofessional, they can be extremely detrimental to the future of any business.

Research, be that market, online, book or lab-based, must result in factual evidential data which should in turn be shared, reviewed and considered. Subsequently, awareness is generated, and pertinent information and plans communicated, clearly and succinctly.

By ensuring that their decisions and strategies are based on cold, hard facts, businesses can carry out effective planning to ensure they retain both their competitive edge and strong position within their market and industry.

Nothing says competitive better than an educated and well-informed workforce.

"A leader always inspires the world to move in the right direction.”


One of the most notable changes to the updated ISO 9001:2015 is the increased emphasis on leadership, and by that they mean commitment, engagement and communication.

Effective leaders are those who engage with their “community”, be that senior management team,  workforce, partner network, extended supply chain stakeholders. Effective leadership depends on communication, guidance, motivation, planning and strategy. The leadership team must be able to clearly and openly communicate the quality objectives, company vision and corporate policies if they are to stand any chance of ensuring employee, customer and partner buy-in.

Successful leaders are those who display a commitment to service excellence, to quality and to their people – employees, managers, customers, partners and peers.

Lead by example and others will follow.

Process-based Approach

ISO Standards are unquestionably process-driven. It’s their hallmark.

When it comes to ISO 9001, the QMS is a basically a network of inter-operable and complimentary processes, overseen by a dedicated team of Quality Managers.

Fundamental to the success of the QMS and its core team is a clear communication and shared understanding of the key objectives driving its existence. Generating awareness, ensuring all relevant parties receive the required training, and maintaining clear lines of communication are crucial to the successful implementation and management of the QMS.

In taking a process-driven approach, the QMS delivers consistent and reliable results, ensuring consistency in planning through production to delivery.

Relationship Management

In business, relationships, good and strong relationships matter.

Effective relationship management, is an organisation’s approach to optimising engagement with all customers – direct and indirect – now and in the future.

ISO 9001 keeps the focus on productive working relationships across the board; from internal relations with employees and management to how we interact with customers, partners, vendors and other key business stakeholders.

How an organisation views its relationships is fundamental to the its ongoing success. If our relationships are positive, they in turn positively impact trade and reputation industry and market-wide.

Word of mouth is crucial to both competition, success and reputation. If we have a strong rapport with all stakeholders the result is typically a win/win for all.

Stakeholder Engagement

Just what exactly the ISO means by stakeholder engagement can be summed up in their Quality Management principles

“Competent, empowered and engaged people at all levels throughout the organisation are essential to enhance its capability to create and deliver value. To manage an organisation effectively and efficiently, it is important to involve all people at all levels and to respect them as individuals.”

Essentially, in order for a business to deliver value, its people must be capable, equipped and motivated.

By ensuring all personnel are educated, engaged and enabled to carry out their responsibilities to the best of their abilities, an organisation will achieve optimal quality management, employee buy-in and above all, customer excellence.

The Seven Pillars of Quality – ISO 9001

There are multiple benefits to adopting the requirements of ISO 9001 not least of which are:

  • Improved customer satisfaction
  • Optimal product and/or service excellence
  • Consistency of best business practices through streamlined processes.
  • Greater employee buy-in, awareness and motivation
  • Reduced costs, Increased profits

By implementing a process-based framework that is quality focussed, your organisation will increase efficiencies, production and revenues whilst reducing costs, employee disengagement and operational duplication and shortcomings.

Happy customers, employees and partners are the lynchpins of a thriving business and a thriving business is one with a strong EBIDTA and healthy bank balance.

In a world of constant yet ever changing demand, Quality drives Quantity. Without both, your business won’t survive.

For more information in ISO 9001 and our Quality Management advisory services, contact caroline on [email protected] or by phone on 01 620 4121.


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