Quality Management Principle 5: Improvement

Strive for continuous improvement rather perfection: Kim Collins


Many years back, computer hardware was equivalent to the size of the room. With time, its size is reducing and its features are improving. Now a SmartWatch also performs many functions of a traditional computer. Similarly, a few decades back, when we need to make a telephone call to another country, it seems to be a herculean task in terms of cost and time but with improvement in technology, it is just a click away and without any cost! 


Improvement is a never-ending process. Improvement does not always mean that it has to be costly as it can also be quick and inexpensive. In this principle, the intent is to understand why improvement is important, how it can be implemented and what can be the possible benefits.

Definitions: ISO 9000: 2015

Improvement (Cl 3.3.1): Activity to enhance performance.

Continual Improvement (Cl 3.3.2): Recurring activity to enhance performance.

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

 For the sustained success of the organization, the concept of ‘Improvement’ should be understood and effectively implemented. A structured approach should be consistently followed for improvement across all the processes.

Why Improvement is needed?

  1. Maintain current level of performance (Quality, Cost, Delivery, Development- QCDD)
  • Quality: Reduce customer complaint, rejection, 3M (Muda, Mura, Muri), implementing Poka-Yoke, etc.
  • Cost: Reduce COPQ by improving Product, Process and System.
  • Delivery: Ensure delivery compliance to 100% for product and services (Quantity, Time, Packaging)
  • Development: Ensure that development is conducted as per customer requirement
  1. To adapt to internal and external changes
  • Technology change (Electric Vehicle)
  • 4M change (Man, Machine, Material, Method)
  • Customer Requirements (reduce cost, improve quality) and CSR (Customer Specific Requirements)
  1. Create new opportunities
  • Identify the new business possibility (entering a new product line or sector)
  • Enhance the existing competence (Knowledge of AI-Artificial Intelligence)

How the process of Improvements can be initiated?

  • Establishing a performance indicator for Improvement at all levels of the organization
  • Identifying the gap and providing training to the personnel to enhance the competence to work for the improvement
  • Inbuilt improvement activity as part of every process in the organization
  • Create an environment of curiosity
  • Regular monitoring of the Improvement activities
  • Recognise, Acknowledge, Empower and Award the personnel for their improvement initiatives
  • Engagement of top management in improvement activities

What benefits the organization can achieve?

  • Improved performance and increasing economic efficiency
  • Higher customer satisfaction
  • Fulfil needs and expectations of the relevant interested parties
  • Improvement of competency of personnel to think for innovation and incremental/breakthrough improvement
  • Enhance the ability to anticipate and respond to possible risk and opportunities

Present Challenges:

  • How often the improvement is part of the organization’s culture?
  • How often top management is promoting improvement in every process?
  • How often improvement activities are encouraged and personnel are empowered?


ISO 9000: 2015

ISO 9001: 2015

IATF 16949: 2016

This is the 87th 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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Rajendra Soni
Rajendra Soni
3 years ago

Hi ..liked your video on customer complaint handling as per IATF code. Its valuable for training purposes across organisations.This is beautifully done im simple Hindi and deserves more views.
.Wish you all the best