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Quality Management Means a Lot of Paperwork – Myth or Fact?

The number one quality management misconception is “Quality Management = A Lot of Paperwork”

The world is full of misconceptions regarding ISO 9001 Certification; with the main one centred around the volume of documentation required. Eye rolls and sighs of exhaustion are common reactions when people contemplate preparing a Quality Management System (QMS) for ISO 9001 Certification.

Well you may be surprised to hear that many organisations are their own worst enemies and create documentation way beyond their needs. The ISO 9001 Standard lays out the criteria for a QMS and the quality management principles, but it does not dictate the method for documenting a QMS. The standard is very broad and allows you to determine exactly how you control quality in your organisation.

We assisted a client with pre-certification preparation whose entire QMS consisted of approximately a dozen flowcharts and a few supporting forms and checklists. Their approach in interpreting ISO 9001 was truly refreshing and their simple QMS was both efficient and fully compliant with the Standard.

So, the take away from this example is KISS – Keep It Super Simple

Here are a few rules to keep ISO 9001 documentation to a minimum:

- Keep a document control register.  A document control register should list all the quality related documents that are part of the QMS.  Review the document control register for any duplicated or overlapping documents. Cull all documents, or document sections, that are covered elsewhere.

- Only focus on the control of processes that have a significant impact on the quality of your product or service.  There is no need for a staff toilet paper ordering process to be part of your QMS.  

- Ensure you are fully utilising existing in-house software to control quality. Whether you are using a specific quality management software or specific process control software (e.g. purchasing, design) ensure you utilise the software to its full capabilities in terms of quality control.

- Familiarise yourself well with the ISO 9001:2015 requirements. The Standard only has a handful of documents that it explicitly requires.  Stay focused on the items that matter. Start with the bare minimum and build your QMS from there.


Have you managed to cut down on paperwork in your organisation? How did you do that? Please share your tips below.