This article mainly outlines what ISO 9000/9001 aims to achieve and what the general idea of the standard is. Because although many companies and private individuals experience it as ‘requirements’, ISO 9000/9001 remains a standard. What is it and why is it there? These questions are answered in this article.
What it is
ISO 9000/9001 describes every part of a management system. You can measure the effectiveness, efficiency and, as a result, the quality of business operations and thus make quality improvements. The result is increasing returns. This therefore concerns management through integrated quality assurance, mapping business processes and removing bottlenecks or optimizing the business process and measuring how this affects returns. The ISO certification system was considered necessary because from the 1920s onwards, companies all started to certify their own products under different standards. A uniform quality management system did not yet exist, but there was a demand for such a uniform, international quality management system. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) filled this gap.
There was initially quite a bit of resistance to this method of certification. For example, this method would be too expensive, lead to bureaucracy, be a confusingly thick quality book and, above all, limit the autonomy of a company.
However, ISO is very beneficial in many areas. For example, it provides slightly more protection against the law that came into effect on January 1, 1991, namely the Product Liability Regulation, under which producers are always considered guilty regardless of whether guilt has been proven in case of damage resulting from their products. It reduces liability slightly because the ISO also assumed that the product met the requirements. The certification provider must therefore always ensure that the issuance of an ISO certificate is justified. This can be done by regularly conducting both internal and external audits. Other benefits are mainly internal. The point is that errors and therefore repair costs must be reduced. This will give you happier customers. As a company, you convey to the customer that you consider quality important. It’s all about strengthening the market position. Competitors often also have such a certificate, so as a worthy player on the market you cannot lag behind. An ISO certificate does not set standards, but it does indicate that business processes follow a certain pattern.
Before a company can claim an ISO certificate, it must go through a number of steps:
- Preparation – It is examined which parts are subject to an audit. These will mainly be the primary activities. The most influential secondary activities are also subject to an audit.
Information is collected through questionnaires. The questions are of course about the various processes (purchasing, sales, production). The material is analyzed and conclusions are drawn. The main question here is where are the bottlenecks. A report is drawn up and discussed. The shortcomings are presented so that the company can respond to them. The auditor tries to convince the company of this. ISO 9000 is a third-party certification and is therefore experienced as reliable because the screening is done by an independent third party. The latest version is ISO 9001:2008, which mainly includes some textual changes compared to the classic ISO 9000.