The British Standards Institute agrees standards for use within the UK. Each standard is prefixed by the letters BS, and numbered.

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) agrees standards for use by all member nations. Each standard is prefixed ISO, and numbered for ease of reference in all languages. Drafting and finalising international standards is a very lengthy business.

You are likely to come across several such standards, for instance:

BS EN ISO 9000 Quality management and quality assurance standards

ISO 9000 describes the series of three standards: ISO 9000, ISO 9001 and ISO 9004. (See Annexes.)

Documentation is at the core of ISO 9000 conformance. In fact, the standards have been described as this:

"Say what you do. Do what you say. Write it down."

What is ISO 9000?

Certification (or registration) is based on a company's quality processes.

It is a quality system standard, not a product certification.

The ISO (International Organization for Standardization) say that the word "quality" means going beyond meeting customer requirements, but rather "enhancing customer satisfaction". The latest version of ISO 9000 has a new reqirement for measuring customer satisfaction.

"The ISO 9000... series explicitly makes continual improvement a requirement and the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle is an integral part of the revised standards." ISO (2001)

Registration covers the entire activities of an organisation and this will give assurance to customers that all the processes of an organisation are being addressed.

Registration is usually good for three years

Auditors have the right to make spot checks

Why is ISO 9000 important?

Business looking for a common set of globally accepted quality standards

ISO 9000 is recognized in the EC and worldwide as the leading quality management standard

Many companies have begun to use ISO 9000 certification to benchmark their choice of suppliers

Focuses on a company process, not individual products. After certification additional cost savings can usually be found

Benefits of registration

External Benefits

  1. Higher Perceived Quality in Marketplace
  2. Improved Customer Satisfaction
  3. Competitive Edge
  4. Reduces Customer Quality Audits
  5. Increases Market Share

Internal Benefits

  1. Greater Quality Awareness
  2. Positive "Cultural" Change
  3. Increased Operational Efficiency/Production

(Results of a 1994 Quality Systems Update, Deloitte & Touche Survey of 1,679 companies who had attained registration)

(Several WWW links in the Bibliography, and more details in the Annexes)

ISO 9000 and bureaucracy

ISO 9000 implies documentation and form filling, but it shouldn't be so onerous as to make the firm less efficient than before.

Oskarsson & Glass (1996):
"Creating rules and formality in order to fulfil [ISO 9000] is rather like balancing on an edge. On one side is the dangerous swamp called "Bureaucracy" which can clog your activities for ever, and on the other side is the slippery slope of "Happy-go-lucky", where you don't know what will happen."

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