Quality Management Principle 5

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 5: System approach to management

Identifying, understanding, and managing interrelated processes as a system contributes to the organization’s effectiveness and efficiency in achieving its objectives.


The system approach to management provides the integration and alignment of the processes that will best achieve the desired results. Another benefit of this principle is its ability to focus effort on the key processes. It also provides confidence to interested parties on the consistency, effectiveness, and efficiency of the organization.


Applying the principle of a system approach to management typically leads to:

  • Structuring a system to achieve the organization’s objectives in the most effective and efficient way
  • Understanding the interdependencies between the processes of the system
  • Using structured approaches that harmonize and integrate processes
  • Providing a better understanding of the roles and responsibilities necessary for achieving common objectives and thereby reducing cross-functional barriers
  • Understanding organizational capabilities and establishing resource constraints prior to action
  • Targeting and defining how specific activities within a system should operate
  • Continually improving the system through measurement and evaluation.

Three additional articles in this June 2013 newsletter address principles 6, 7, and 8. The first four quality management principles were described in the May 2013 newsletter.