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Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Question: It is not very clear what exactly is the difference between the process approach and system approach. Please explain.

Answer: Unfortunately, people confuse the term ‘process’ and ‘system’. It is necessary to understand both terms clearly. A process is a set of interrelated or interacting activities, which transforms inputs into outputs. The process of a business is the totality of all of the individual activities that the business performs. The process includes identifying a customer need, creating a product or service concept to meet the need, defining how that concept will be executed, executing or deploying the concept, measuring customer satisfaction, and continually improving both concepts and deployment. To manage the process, the organization develops management systems, including financial, human resources, materials, quality, environmental, health and safety, and other management systems. Some of these systems will meet the international Standards, such as ISO 9001: 2008 QMS Standard.

‘Process approach’ requires determination of processes, interactions of the determined processes and their management. In this connection, general requirements mentioned in clause 1.1 of the ISO 9001:2008 QMS Standard are relevant.

Ongoing control is one advantage of the process approach. Process approach provides over the linkage between the individual processes within the system of processes, as well as over their combination and interaction. A process approach (when used in the quality management system) emphasizes importance of:

• Understanding customer requirements, applicable statutory and regulatory requirements and organization’s own requirements
• Fulfilling customer requirements, applicable statutory and regulatory requirements and organization’s own requirements
• The need to consider processes in terms of added value
• Continual improvement of processes based on objective measurement

In each such system, there are number of component processes. The summation of these component processes constitutes the specific management system. Typical processes in the quality management system include leadership, planning, administration, purchasing, training, design and development, production and service, operations, measurement, audit, corrective and preventive actions, and improvement.

A process map is a very significant tool as part of quality management system of an organization. Part of creating this map is defining where process starts and ends and determining: the specific activities that need to be performed, the process owners for each of the activities, and customer satisfaction measures. From this map, the organization can begin to define which QMS-related processes are involved and how organization can flowchart them in detail, improve them, update the flowchart, and document, deploy and maintain the process.

I hope the matter is clear.

With best wishes,


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