What are the Principles of ISO 9001? (Hint, there are 7!)

The seven principles of ISO 9001

These seven principles act in unison to create a system that will help ensure a company operates at a high level on a consistent basis. By running your company with these principles in mind, you are actively looking to improve upon your company’s standards of performance.

ISO 9001 principles

Engagement of People

This principle is based on the idea of getting your entire company to buy in to the process and understand the role they play in the improvement of the company’s operations. This is predicated on open and clear communication across the business.

Customer Focus

The goal of any company is to satisfy the customer and keep them happy. All steps in improvement should be made with this goal in mind. As you implement ISO 9001, every decision will be made with the customer and their satisfaction in mind.


Leadership in ISO 9001 is based on two things; a clear vision of the businesses’s future and the ability to communicate that vision. The ability to see where the company is headed and communicate it to others will help to keep everyone in a company focused on achieving the same goal.

Process Approach

The premise behind emphasizing the process that is used is that a process can be controlled and repeated, while results are largely a result of the process. By focusing on a process that is proven to produce the desired results, you can increase the rate at which you achieve these results

ISO focuses on a process of Plan Do Check Act(PDCA), designed to promote a process driven culture that infects the entire company, regardless of department.


One of the core focuses of the ISO 9001 system is constant improvement, and this core focus will likely become a core goal of your organization too. At every juncture of the process there is an opportunity to question if the current method is the best, with the ability to improve upon any inefficiencies that might arise.

Evidence-based Decision Making

This principle is based on the idea of providing all members of an organization with the most accurate information as possible, so that all decisions can be as informed as possible. By making all information available, team members will feel empowered to take initiative.

Relationship Management

This principle of the ISO 9001 system stresses the relationships a company will build with their vendors and suppliers. By basing those relationships on trust and open communication, these relationships can be leveraged to increase a company’s competitive advantage.

These principles are designed to work in unison and reinforce each other. They also provide an organization with a way to constantly improve each step and always be reviewing their processes to ensure they are the best possible.

Equally important, all of these principles can be applied to all facets of a business and how it is run. The same evidence-based decision making that helps a company decide how to allocate its capital resources can also help it allocate its human resources.


Getting Started with ISO 9001


Edited: 17 April 2024
Author: Richard Keen

Richard Keen

Richard Keen

Richard is our Compliance Director, responsible for content & product development.
But most importantly he is ISO's biggest fanboy and a true evangelist of the standards.
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