Quality Management Principle 4: Process Approach

We should work on the process, not on the outcome of our process: W Edward Deming    


When a girl and boy meet for the first time, if they like each other, they prefer to spend more time to understand. Once they feel confident about their relationship, they can decide to live together and share their decision with their respective parents. If they too agree, they can go ahead with the marriage.

In this entire chain of activities, you must have noticed a few interrelated and interacting activities from meeting to marriage.  


The key objective is to understand the meaning and purpose of the Process and Process Approach. How they are interlinked with the PDCA cycle and Risk-Based Thinking. How the process approach can result in the effective and efficient implementation of the processes, which will ultimately result in customer satisfaction and profitability for the organization.

Definitions: ISO 9000: 2015

Process (Cl 3.4.1): Set of interrelated or interacting activities that use inputs to deliver an intended result.

Detailed Information

The Quality Management Principles are not specific to any one industry and can be applied to organizations of any size and type.

As per ISO 9000: 2015, clause 2.3, following are the 7 principles of Quality Management

  1. Customer Focus
  2. Leadership
  3. Engagement of People
  4. Process Approach
  5. Improvement
  6. Evidence-based decision making
  7. Relationship Management

This International Standard (ISO 9001/IATF 16949) enables an organization to use the process approach, coupled with the PDCA cycle and risk-based thinking, to align or integrate its quality management system.

For the sustained success of the organization, the concept of ‘Process Approach’ should be understood and effectively implemented.

What is the Process and Process Approach?

  1. In any organization, there are numerous processes like Sales, New Product Development, Planning, Purchase, Production, Quality, Maintenance, Human Resource etc.
  2. Process: It is an activity or set of activities using resources which transforms an input into an output. Often the output from one process directly forms the input to the next.
  3. Process approach: It is a network of different process like Sales, Purchase, Production, Quality, Despatch etc. wherein the output of one process becomes the input of another.
  4. The key difference between Process and Process Approach is that
  • Process is only related to one like Production
  • Process Approach is a combination of many Processes like Production, Quality, Sales etc.

Process approach is the horizontal deployment of processes.

What is the purpose of Process Approach?

  • To integrates processes and measures to meet objectives
  • Define interrelated activities and checks to deliver intended outputs
  • Define planning and controls needed and documentation as per the organization’s context
  • To get consistent and predictable results
  • To enhance customer satisfaction by meeting customer requirements

How the Process approach can be implemented?

By effectively using PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Action) approach and Risk Analysis, the process approach can be effectively implemented in any organization by the quality policy and strategic direction of the organization.

The PDCA cycle (Deming cycle) enables an organization to ensure that its processes are adequately resourced and managed and that opportunities for improvement are determined and acted on.

Plan (P): set the objectives of the system and processes to deliver results (“What to do” and “how to do it”) and possible risk

Do (D): implement and control what was planned and address the risk

Check (C): monitor and measure processes and results against policies, objectives,  requirements, report results and effectiveness of risk management

Action (A): take actions to improve the performance of processes and risk.

PDCA operates as a cycle of continual improvement, with risk‐based thinking at each stage.

What benefits the organization can achieve?

  • Understanding and consistency in meeting the requirements
  • Understanding the Processes in terms of added value
  • Achievement of Effective Process Performance
  • Improvement of Processes Based on Evaluation of Data and Information

Present Challenges:

  • How often the organization understand the concept of Process and Process Approach?
  • How often Risk and opportunities are interlinked and monitored for each process?
  • How often PDCA approach is effectively implemented for each Process?


ISO 9000: 2015

ISO 9001: 2015

IATF 16949: 2016


This is the 86th article of this Quality Management series. Every weekend, you will find useful information that will make your Management System journey Productive. Please share it with your colleagues too.

Your genuine feedback and response are extremely valuable. Please suggest topics for the coming weeks.

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Raj Dev
Raj Dev
3 years ago

Good points you have said. Sir
It is most important for an organization to how to implement process

Mohammed Imtiazuddin
Mohammed Imtiazuddin
1 year ago

Very interestingly you have explained about the process and process approach, PDCA and the seven quality management principles as per ISO 9001: 2015.