What is the difference between QMS & EMS


Both QMS and EMS are document-driven ISO standards control and management systems for organisations. QMS is a Quality Management System also known as ISO 9001. EMS is an Environmental Management System also known as ISO 14001.

There are some similarities between the two systems, in that they are both systems of standards, sharing a common goal. Both use similar documentation procedures and are administered under the auspices of the International Standards Organisation. Both require detailed record-keeping. They also require regular review, as well as providing for constant training.

Let’s look at the differences between ISO 9001 and ISO 14001

As we have mentioned, the two systems have many aspects in common, but there are several differences in how each ISO system is executed.

ISO 9001 2015 QMSISO 14001 2015 EMS
Customer-drivenEnvironmentally driven
More documented proceduresLess documented procedures
Defined standardsNo defined standards
Requires quality manualNo quality manual

QMS ISO 9001

This system aims to achieve and maintain the desired quality standard related to products being produced or services being delivered. For some businesses, this could cover both products and services.

The QMS is designed to meet or exceed customer requirements with the products and services being delivered. The process is ongoing, as new standards may be desired by the business or enforced externally by market trends or legislation. New or updated products will require new documentation and procedures.

Record keeping in a QMS is far more detailed than in an EMS, and more internal departments in an organisation will be involved. All aspects such as procurement, manufacturing process, quality inspection procedures, product development and final appearance, packaging, and delivery, will all be documented and required to follow strict standards.

There are prescribed external and internal standards to be followed, and relevant documentation must be completed at various steps in the production process. These form part of the record-keeping, which will be used in periodic audits.


EMS ISO 14001

The purpose of and EMS is to negate or minimise the impact that an organisation has on the environment. You can easily imagine that huge refineries or production plants would be the most in need of an EMS, but in reality, it applies to many smaller businesses as well.

The standards for environmental management systems are less measurable than those for quality management systems and therefore less defined. 

Each business will have its particular concerns to address, even down to simple aspects such as refuse removal or water usage.

Because the standards are less defined, the documentation volume is far less than that of a QMS. Management involvement and responsibility are much more intense concerning an EMS. Understandably a huge negative impact on the environment by an organisation will certainly warrant external attention and could even lead to legal or criminal consequences.

Environmental policies are easily set up and followed. Less staff are involved in the process, but accountability is high.

A business can seek the assistance of external sources to verify that its environmental aspects meet acceptable standards. This can form part of that business’s self-declaration of compliance.

ISO 14001 Certification from best practice


The two management systems standards can easily be integrated. If you have an ISO 9001 QMS in place, it is possible to link the EMS ISO 14001 to it and run both concurrently.


Both a QMS and an EMS are a little laborious to implement. Once they are established and have become part of an organisation’s routine, they are relatively easy to manage. The benefits of such systems far outweigh the initial cost and effort involved.

If you need guidance in setting up a QMS or EMS, Best Practice is here to help. We are a JAS-ANZ accredited Certification body that aims to provide ISO Certification globally, with a range of in-house training and support systems to help you on your journey to continual improvement.

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