Quality Management Principle 4

The Introduction section of ISO 9001:2008, Quality management systems – Requirements, notes that the standard was developed based on the eight Quality Management Principles listed below. These principles can be used by top management as a framework to guide their organizations towards improved performance.

1. Customer focus
2. Leadership
3. Involvement of people
4. Process approach
5. System approach to management
6. Continual improvement
7. Factual approach to decision making
8. Mutually beneficial supplier relationships

The eight principles are briefly defined in ISO 9000:2005, Quality management systems – Fundamentals and vocabulary, and more fully described in Annex B of ISO 9004:2009, Managing for the sustained success of an organization – A quality management approach.

Principle 4: Process approach

A desired result is achieved more efficiently when activities and related resources are managed as a process.


Benefits of the process approach include lower costs and shorter cycle times through the effective use of resources. Use of this quality management principle leads to improved, consistent, and predictable results, as well as, focused and prioritized improvement opportunities.


Applying the process approach principle typically leads to:

  • Systematically defining the activities necessary to obtain a desired result
  • Establishing clear responsibility and accountability for managing key activities
  • Analyzing and measuring the capability of key activities
  • Identifying the interfaces of key activities within and between the functions of the organization
  • Focusing on factors such as resources, methods, and materials that will improve the key activities of the organization
  • Evaluating the risks, consequences, and impacts of activities on customers, suppliers, and other interested parties.

Three other articles in this May 2013 newsletter address principles 1, 2, and 3. The remaining quality management principles will be covered in the June 2013 newsletter.