ISO is the International Organization for Standards and produces international standards. A network of standards institutes forms the ISO, of which there currently are 163 countries represented by these institutes. Since the ISO is the world’s largest developer of standards, it would be beneficial to follow these standards.
ISO 9000 is the quality management system used by companies that engage in production. ISO standards in these series include:
ISO 9126 – used as a model for software quality
ISO 9362 – used to regulate BIC or Bank Identifier Code
ISO 9564 – used to maintain quality in PIN (Personal Identification Number) security and management
Not every company applying for an ISO certification will be applying for the same standard. There are different standards in place, depending on the type of industry a company or organization belongs to and the kind of products or services it offers.
The ISO approach towards quality management concentrates on standardization of the activities of production. The eight quality principles of ISO 9000, along with its twenty-four requirements outline business processes. The emphasis here is on the control of events in each aspect of doing business by documenting evidence and reports. The eight principles of ISO 9000 include prioritizing customer data, purchasing and quality systems, among other critical aspects. ISO 9000 recognizes each process, whose end goals are the same, as an independent entity. Documented quality requirements typically decide, based on set rules, whether or not a particular process adhered to that standard.
The fourth principle is process approach. The cycles of manufacturing a product have to be made into a consistent process. Better process efficiency leads to increased speed and more cost effectiveness. The fifth principle builds upon the fourth, taking the processes and building them into one large system. All processes that have a common goal should act as one. This will build consistency and better efficiency in production. Principle six is improvement continuation. Improvements will take time. Goals should be set in order to achieve Continual Process Improvement. The seventh principle is to focus on facts when making decisions. Information needs to be analyzed and decisions made from what is found. The final principle is to have a mutually advantageous relationship with suppliers. This aids in ordering speed and cost containment. Taking these principles step by step will help an organization streamline its processes.
Seldom heard is any discussion on the fundamentals of Quality Management as it is determined by individual organisations, both within and without the ISO 9001 registration scheme.
Since the earliest days of structured Quality Management Systems it has been an established practice to appoint a Head of Quality function, normally but not always as a 'Quality Manager'. The proposition to be made here is that this post is both unnecessary and commonly an encumbrance to effective management.
Unnecessary because the requirements for ISO registration do not demand it, and because at both the individual and functional level this appointee does not in any real way manage Quality. Manufacturing managers, accountants, sales and marketing managers etc, are individually and collectively responsible for the quality of their management and delivery of the outputs of their function. At the time of individual or corporate performance assessment there is no escape from this responsibility. Certainly the quality management is not renowned for accepting responsibility for any deficiency in the quality of performance at that time!
ISO 9001: 2008 only introduces clarifications to the existing requirements of ISO 9001: 2000 based on eight years of experience of implementing the standard worldwide with about one million certificates issued in 170 countries to date. It also introduces changes intended to improve consistency with ISO14001: 2004. In fact, the ISO technical committee (TC176) who develops the ISO 9000 series of standards is deliberately planning the next release as an amendment rather than a formal revision.
In today's service-sector driven economy, more and more companies are using ISO 9001 as a business tool. Through the use of properly stated quality objectives, customer satisfaction surveys and a well-defined continual improvement program companies are using ISO 9001 processes to increase their efficiency and profitability.