ISO 9001:2008 and its 8 Principles

Principles contain greater scope requirements than ISO 9001:1994, but have less specific documentation requirements.


  1. Principle 1 - Customer focus

  2. Organizations depend on their customers, and therefore should understand current and future customer needs. They should meet customer requirements and strive to exceed customer expectations.

    Key benefits:

    • Increased revenue and market share obtained through flexible and fast responses to market opportunities. Increased effectiveness in the use of the organization's resources to enhance customer satisfaction.
    • Improved customer loyalty leading to repeat business.

    Applying the principle of customer focus means:

    • Researching and understanding customer needs and expectations.
    • Ensuring that the objectives of the organization are linked to customer needs and expectations.
    • Communicating customer needs and expectations throughout the organization.
    • Measuring customer satisfaction and acting on the results.
    • Systematically managing customer relationships.
    • Ensuring a balanced approach between satisfying customers and other interested parties (such as owners, employees, suppliers, financiers, local communities and society as a whole).

  3. Principle 2 - Leadership

  4. Leaders establish unity of purpose and direction in the organization. They should create and maintain the internal environment in which people can become fully involved in achieving the organization's objectives.

    Key benefits:

    • People will understand and be motivated to achieve the organization's goals and objectives.
    • Activities are evaluated, aligned and implemented in a unified way.
    • Bad communication within the organizational levels will be minimized.

    Applying the principle of leadership means:

    • Establishing a clear vision of the organization's future.
    • Setting challenging goals and targets.
    • Creating and sustaining shared values, fairness and ethical role models at all levels of the organization.
    • Establishing trust.
    • Providing people with the required resources, training and freedom to act with responsibility and accountability.
    • Inspiring, encouraging and recognizing people's contributions.

  5. Principle 3 - Involvement of people

  6. The involvement of people at all levels in an organization is essential to the success of a Quality Management System implementation.

    Key benefits:

    • Motivated, committed and involved people within the organization.
    • Innovation and creativity in furthering the organization's objectives.
    • People accountable for their own performance.
    • People eager to participate in and contribute to continual improvement.

    Applying the principle of involvement of people means:

    • People understanding the importance of their contribution and role in the organization.
    • People identifying constraints to their performance.
    • People accepting ownership of problems and their responsibility for solving them.
    • People evaluating their performance against their personal goals and objectives.
    • People actively seeking opportunities to enhance their competence, knowledge and experience.
    • People freely sharing knowledge and experience.
    • People openly discussing problems and issues.

  7. Principle 4 - Process approach

  8. Quality is achieved more efficiently when activities and related resources are managed as processes.

    Key benefits:

    • Lower costs and shorter cycle times through effective use of resources.
    • Improved, consistent and predictable results.
    • Focused and prioritized improvement opportunities.

    Applying the principle of the process approach means:

    • Systematically defining the activities necessary to obtain a desired result.
    • 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 risks, consequences and impact of activities on customers, suppliers and other interested parties

  9. Principle 5 - System approach to management

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

    Key benefits:

    • Integration and alignment of the processes that will best achieve the desired results.
    • Ability to focus effort on the key processes.
    • Providing confidence to interested parties regarding the consistency, effectiveness and efficiency of the organization.

    Applying the principle of system approach to management means:

    • 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.
    • 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.

  11. Principle 6 - Continual improvement

  12. The continual improvement of the organization's overall performance should be a permanent objective of the organization.

    Key benefits:

    • Performance advantage through improved organizational capabilities.
    • Alignment of improvement activities at all levels of the organization's strategic intent.
    • Flexibility to react quickly to opportunities.

    Applying the principle of continual improvement means:

    • Employing a consistent organization-wide approach to the organization's performance.
    • Providing people with training in the methods and tools of continual improvement.
    • Making continual improvement of products, processes and systems an objective for every individual in the organization.
    • Establishing goals to guide, and measures to track continual improvement.
    • Recognizing and acknowledging improvements.

  13. Principle 7 - Factual approach to decision making

  14. Effective decisions are based on the analysis of data and information.

    Key benefits:

    • Informed decisions.
    • An increased ability to demonstrate the effectiveness of past decisions through reference to factual records.
    • Increased ability to review, challenge and change opinions and decisions.

    Applying the principle of factual approach to decision making means:

    • Ensuring that data and information are sufficiently accurate and reliable.
    • Making data accessible to those who need it.
    • Analyzing data and information using valid methods.
    • Making decisions and taking action based on factual analysis, balanced with experience and intuition.

  15. Principle 8 - Mutually beneficial supplier relationships

  16. An organization and its suppliers are interdependent, and a mutually beneficial relationship enhances the ability of both to create value.

    Key benefits:

    • Increased ability to create value for both parties.
    • Flexibility and speed of joint responses to changing market or customer needs and expectations.
    • Optimization of costs and resources.

    Applying the principles of mutually beneficial supplier relationships means:

    • Establishing relationships that balance short-term gains with long-term considerations.
    • Pooling of expertise and resources with partners.
    • Identifying and selecting key suppliers.
    • Clear and open communication.
    • Sharing information and future plans.
    • Establishing joint development and improvement activities.
    • Inspiring, encouraging and recognizing improvements and achievements by suppliers.

Thus the revised ISO 9001 standard was developed on a simple process-based structure. This is a departure from the previous 20-element structure used in the 1994 revision of ISO 9001. The new process-based structure is more generic and adopts the process-management approach already widely used in business today. Also, the process-based structure is consistent with the Plan-Do-Check-Act improvement cycle used in the ISO 14000 standards (on environmental management systems).