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ISO 9001

ISO 9000 is a family of standards for quality management systems. ISO 9000 is maintained by ISO, the International Organization for Standardization and is administered by accreditation and certification bodies. Some of the requirements in ISO 9001 (which is one of the standards in the ISO 9000 family) include:-

ISO 9001
  • a set of procedures that cover all key processes in the business;
  • monitoring processes to ensure they are effective;
  • keeping adequate records;
  • checking output for defects, with appropriate and corrective action where necessary;
  • regularly reviewing individual processes and the quality system itself for effectiveness; and facilitating continual improvement

A company or organization that has been independently audited and certified to be in conformance with ISO 9001 may publicly state that it is "ISO 9001 certified" or "ISO 9001 registered."ISO 9000 includes the following standards:

  • ISO 9000:2000, Quality management systems – Fundamentals and vocabulary. Covers the basics of what quality management systems are and also contains the core language of the ISO 9000 series of standards. A guidance document, not used for certification purposes. This has been revised in year 2005.
  • ISO 9001:2000 / ISO 9001:2008 Quality management systems – Requirements is intended for use in any organization which designs, develops, manufactures, installs and/or services any product or provides any form of service. It provides a number of requirements which an organization needs to fulfill if it is to achieve customer satisfaction through consistent products and services which meet customer expectations. It includes a requirement for the continual (i.e. planned) improvement of the Quality Management System, for which ISO 9004:2000 provides many hints. This is the only implementation for which third-party auditors may grant certification. It should be noted that certification is not described as any of the 'needs' of an organization as a driver for using ISO 9001 (see ISO 9001:2000 section 1 'Scope') but does recognize that it may be used for such a purpose (see ISO 9001:2000 section 0.1 'Introduction').
  • ISO 9004:2000 Quality management systems - Guidelines for performance improvements. covers continual improvement. This gives you advice on what you could do to enhance a mature system. This standard very specifically states that it is not intended as a guide to implementation.

The previous members of the ISO 9000 family, 9001, 9002 and 9003, have all been integrated into 9001. In most cases, an organization claiming to be "ISO 9000 registered" is referring to ISO 9001.

Summary of ISO 9001

  • The quality policy is a formal statement from management, closely linked to the vision, mission, business and marketing plan and to customer needs. The quality policy is understood and followed at all levels and by all employees. Each employee needs measurable objectives to work towards.
  • Decisions about the quality system are made based on recorded data and the system is regularly audited and evaluated for conformance and effectiveness.
  • Records should show how and where raw materials and products were processed, to allow
  • products and problems to be traced to the source.
  • You need a documented procedure to control quality documents in your company. Everyone must have access to up-to-date documents and be aware of how to use them.
  • To maintain the quality system and produce conforming product, you need to provide suitable infrastructure, resources, information, equipment, measuring and monitoring devices, and environmental conditions.
  • You need to map out all key processes in your company; control them by monitoring, measurement and analysis; and ensure that product quality objectives are met. If you can’t monitor a process by measurement, then make sure the process is well enough defined that you can make adjustments if the product does not meet user needs.
  • For each product your company makes, you need to establish quality objectives; plan processes; and document and measure results to use as a tool for improvement. For each process, determine what kind of procedural documentation is required (note: a “product” is hardware, software, services, processed materials, or a combination of these).
  • You need to determine key points where each process requires monitoring and measurement, and ensure that all monitoring and measuring devices are properly maintained and calibrated.
  • You need to have clear requirements for purchased product.
  • You need to determine customer requirements and create systems for communicating with customers about product information, inquiries, contracts, orders, feedback and complaints.
  • When developing new products, you need to plan the stages of development, with appropriate testing at each stage. You need to test and document whether the product meets design requirements, regulatory requirements and user needs.
  • You need to regularly review performance through internal audits and meetings. Determine whether the quality system is working and what improvements can be made. Deal with past problems and potential problems. Keep records of these activities and the resulting decisions, and monitor their effectiveness (note: you need a documented procedure for internal audits).
  • You need documented procedures for dealing with actual and potential nonconformances (problems involving suppliers or customers, or internal problems). Make sure no one uses bad product, determine what to do with bad product, deal with the root cause of the problem and keep records to use as a tool to improve the system.

Certification

ISO does not itself certify organizations. Many countries have formed accreditation bodies to authorize certification bodies, which audit organizations applying for ISO 9001 compliance certification. Although commonly referred to as ISO 9000:2000 certifications, the actual standard to which an organization's quality management can be certified is ISO 9001:2000. Both the accreditation bodies and the certification bodies charge fees for their services. The various accreditation bodies have mutual agreements with each other to ensure that certificates issued by one of the Accredited Certification Bodies (CB) are accepted world-wide.

The applying organization is assessed based on an extensive sample of its sites, functions, products, services and processes; a list of problems ("action requests" or "non-compliances") is made known to the management. If there are no major problems on this list, the certification body will issue an ISO 9001 certificate for each geographical site it has visited, once it receives a satisfactory improvement plan from the management showing how any problems will be resolved.

An ISO certificate is not a once-and-for-all award, but must be renewed at regular intervals recommended by the certification body, usually around three years. In contrast to the Capability Maturity Model there are no grades of competence within ISO 9001

Advantages of ISO 9001 certification

It is widely acknowledged that proper quality management improves business, often having a positive effect on investment, market share, sales growth, sales margins, competitive advantage, and avoidance of litigation. The quality principles in ISO 9000:2000 are also sound, according to Wade, and Barnes, who says "ISO 9000 guidelines provide a comprehensive model for quality management systems that can make any company competitive." Barnes also cites a survey by Lloyd's Register Quality Assurance which indicated that ISO 9000 increased net profit, and another by Deloitte-Touche which reported that the costs of registration were recovered in as less as three months. According to the Providence Business News, implementing ISO often gives the following advantages:

ISO 9001:2008
  • Create a more efficient, effective operation
  • Increase customer satisfaction and retention
  • Reduce audits
  • Enhance marketing
  • Improve employee motivation, awareness, and morale
  • Promote international trade
  • Increases profit
  • Reduce waste and increases productivity

In today's service-sector driven economy, more and more companies are using ISO 9000 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 9000 processes to increase their efficiency and profitability.

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