Deutsch: Dokument / Español: Documento / Português: Documento / Français: Document / Italiano: Documento

In the context of quality management, a document refers to any piece of information that is recorded in a tangible or electronic form, which defines, specifies, explains, or demonstrates how quality objectives are to be achieved. Documents play a critical role in establishing, implementing, maintaining, and continually improving a quality management system (QMS), serving as a means to communicate policies, procedures, and requirements throughout an organization.


  • 'Document' in the glossary of the


Documents in quality management encompass a wide variety of materials, including quality manuals, policies, procedures, work instructions, quality plans, and records. These documents are essential for providing clarity and direction to employees, ensuring consistent application of quality practices, and facilitating compliance with international quality standards, such as ISO 9001.

The effective management of documents is a fundamental component of a QMS, requiring processes for document creation, review, approval, distribution, access, retrieval, storage, preservation, retention, and disposal. Document control, a key process in quality management, ensures that documents are adequately reviewed and approved before use, and that changes and revisions are controlled to maintain document integrity.

Documents serve multiple purposes in quality management, including:

  • Defining quality policies and objectives: Documents articulate the organization's commitment to quality and set clear goals.
  • Describing processes and procedures: Documents outline how various tasks and processes should be performed to meet quality standards.
  • Providing evidence of conformity: Records, a specific type of document, provide objective evidence that processes have been carried out as planned and that quality requirements have been met.

In addition to supporting internal quality assurance and control processes, documents are also crucial for external audits and certifications. They provide auditors with evidence that the organization has implemented its quality management system effectively and is continuously monitoring and improving its processes.

Application Areas

Documentation is integral to all areas of quality management, including:

  • Quality Policy and Objectives Communication: Developing and disseminating the organization's quality policy and specific quality objectives.
  • Process Documentation: Creating detailed descriptions of processes and procedures to ensure consistent execution and quality outcomes.
  • Training Materials: Providing employees with information and instructions necessary to perform their duties in accordance with quality requirements.
  • Compliance and Certification: Demonstrating adherence to international quality standards and regulatory requirements.

Well-Known Examples

  • Quality Manuals: Documents that outline the scope of the QMS, including processes and responsibilities for achieving quality objectives.
  • Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs): Detailed instructions on how to carry out specific operations or tasks to ensure quality consistency.
  • Quality Plans: Documents that specify quality practices, resources, and the sequence of activities relevant to a particular product, service, or project.
  • Audit Reports: Documents that record the findings, conclusions, and recommendations of internal or external quality audits.

Treatment and Risks

Ineffective document management can lead to various risks, including non-conformity with quality standards, process inefficiencies, and errors in product or service delivery. Conversely, a well-managed documentation system supports continuous improvement, facilitates training and knowledge sharing, and enhances compliance and accountability. Challenges in document management include maintaining up-to-date documents, ensuring accessibility while controlling document distribution, and managing the transition from paper-based to electronic document systems.

Similar Terms or Synonyms

  • Quality Documentation
  • Quality Records
  • QMS Documentation
  • Quality Manuals and Procedures


Documents are indispensable to quality management, serving as the foundation for establishing, implementing, and improving quality management systems. They provide the necessary structure and information to ensure that an organization's quality objectives are understood, applied, and achieved consistently. Effective document management is critical for maintaining the integrity of the QMS, ensuring compliance with quality standards, and supporting continuous improvement efforts.


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