At the base (but not the basement) of most process improvement programs, you'll usually find a set of recommendations or requirements that focus on measurement, analysis, and improvement. CMMI and Six Sigma have them as well.
These activities are important because they provide you with the empirical data and objective insight to assess your program and make it better. The measurements show you how you are doing. The analyses help clarify how you might do things better. And the improvements are your actions in response to the data.
Here is the natural cycle of process improvement:
Implement a process.
Observe it in action for a while.
Measure its performance.
Analyze the measurements to see what is working well, what has potential for refinement.
Begin the cycle again.
Section 8 of ISO 9001 deals with the cycle of measurement, analysis, and improvement. This section sets forth requirements for collecting measurement data on customer satisfaction, process performance, and work product quality. It also establishes requirements for controlling products that do not conform to quality standards, for analyzing measurement data, and for ensuring that QMS refinements are implemented through a culture of continual improvement using corrective and preventive actions.
Section 8 addresses these topics in five subsections:
Monitoring and measurement
Control of nonconforming product
Analysis of data
These are described next. ...