ISO stands for International Organisation for Standardization.
it was decided to use an abbreviation derived from the Greek "isos", meaning "equal" - which reflects the ISO's activities.
Founded in 1947, ISO is a network made up of the national standards institutes of 137 countries - on the basis of one member per country - with a Central Secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland that co-ordinates the system.
ISO 9000 standards are a benchmark for quality management:
They help prevent defects from occurring, contribute to customer satisfaction, and help organizations be more competitive.
The standards were introduced in 1987 and have been revised twice: in 1994 and 2000.
The following three standards make up the current ISO 9000 set:
ISO 9000:2000 Quality management & quality assurance Standards: Guidelines for selection and use
ISO 9001:2000 Quality systems – Model for Quality Assurance in Design, Development, Production, Installation and Servicing
ISO 9002:2000 Quality systems – Model for Quality Assurance in Production, Installation and Servicing
ISO 9003:2000 Quality systems Model for Quality Assurance in Final inspection and Test
ISO 9004:2000 Quality Management and Quality System elements - Guidelines
ISO 9000 standards are based on eight quality management principles which can be used to improve the performance of an organisation
Eight Quality Management Principle
1: Customer focus Organizations should strive to understand current and future customer needs, meet customer requirements and exceed customer expectations.
2: Leadership Leaders establish an organization's purpose and direction. They should create and maintain the internal environment in which employees work towards business objectives.
3: People involvement People are the essence of a company, and should be involved at all levels.
4: Process approach The required result is achieved more efficiently when activities and related resources are managed as a process.
Eight Quality Management Principle…Contd
5: System approach to management Identifying, understanding and managing inter-related processes as a system contributes to the organisation's effectiveness and efficiency.
6: Continual improvement Continual improvement of the company's overall performance should be a permanent objective.
7: Factual approach to decision making Effective decisions are based on the analysis of data and information.
8: Mutually beneficial supplier relationships An organisation and its suppliers are inter-dependent, and a mutually beneficial relationship enhances the ability of both to create value.
To register or not?
There is always the question of whether or not to go for ISO 9000 registration.
In North America (the United States, Canada, and Mexico) it is called registration while in Europe and some parts of Asia it is called certification.
Procedure of Registration:
A registrar is a third-party company that audits a company's quality management system against ISO 9001:2000.
If the quality management system meets the demands of ISO 9001:2000, a certificate is awarded.
This process is called registration or certification, and the recipient is called an ISO 9000 registered or certified organisation.
Registration is good for three years from the date it is granted.
During this time the registrar can carry out surprise checks once or twice a year, and continued registration depends on the findings of these audits.
At the end of three years a renewal audit is performed before the registration is continued.
ISO 9001:2000 and its eight principles can be used to manage quality without ever getting registered.
It is a myth that use of ISO 9001-2000 standard calls for registration.
Critics say that the registration process is bureaucratic, increases paperwork, causes considerable expense and offers no guarantee of better quality.
In the UK, many CEOs believe it has transformed their company values, putting a focus on serving the customer and understanding the strategic nature of quality as a competitive weapon
Total ISO 9000 registrations worldwide
Year No. of registrations % Increase over previous year No. of countries
Jan '93 27,816 48
Sept '93 45,571 67 60
June '94 70,376 51 75
March '95 95,117 35 88
Dec. '95 127,349 34 96
Dec. '96 162,701 29 113
Dec. '97 223,299 37 126
Dec. '98 271,847 22 141
Dec. '99 343,643 26 150
Dec. '00 408,631 20 158
Source: The ISO Survey of ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 Certificates - Tenth Cycle. ISO Secretariat, Geneva, Switzerland
The ISO 9000 registration process provides a company with the opportunity to:
Better understand and anticipate customer requirements.
Improve its understanding of business processes and control them in a logical, systematic way.
Reduce paperwork by doing away with forms and reports that do not add any value to the processes or products.
Foster internal discipline leading to streamlined production, reduced cycle times, and quality improvements.
Create an environment where quality can be managed more effectively.
The aim of ISO 9000 is to help organisations create quality management systems that improve customer satisfaction by preventing defects or nonconformities in products and services.
It does not entail the creation of complex, hard to follow processes and procedures.
ISO 9001:2000 requirements are common-sense business requirements.
Apparel industry experience
Many buying organisations prefer their apparel suppliers to be ISO 9000 registered because it provides an assurance that a system is in place to monitor product quality.
And the fact that it is based on the same standards used by other suppliers worldwide is a distinct advantage.
After the abolishment of the quota system and competition in the apparel industry grows more intense, those manufacturers who have already achieved ISO 9000 registration are well ahead of those who have not based their quality management system on ISO 9000 principles.
In trying to decide whether to register or not, consider the following:
Does your organisation have the discipline to use ISO 9001:2000 to manage quality without the outside pressure of registration? If not, then what is the value of receiving the discipline that registration will impose?
What is the sales and marketing value to the organisation of being registered?
If the total of the above two exceeds the cost of registration, then it makes business sense to follow it through.
For those who wish to seek registration, it is best to work with an accredited registrar who will be competent and qualified to perform ISO 9000 audits.
Most countries have at least one accrediting authority.
For example, the Registration Accreditation Board (RAB) is an accreditation authority in the United States; in the Netherlands it is the Dutch Accreditation Council (RvA); and in the United Kingdom it is the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS).
It is also important that your customers accept the certification or registration body.
For example, those apparel companies exporting to the United States would be wise to get a registrar who is accredited by RAB.
For those companies exporting to Europe, it would be wise to get a registrar who is accredited by a European agency such as UKAS or RvA.