What is ISO 9000?
Quality is something every company strives for and is often times very difficult to achieve. Complications concerning efficiency and quality present themselves everyday in business, whether an important document cannot be found or a consumer finds a product not up to their expectations. How can a company increase the quality of its products and services? The answer is ISO 9000.
As standards go, ISO 9000 is one of the most widely recognized in the world. ISO 9000 is a quality management standard that presents guidelines intended to increase business efficiency and customer satisfaction. The goal of ISO 9000 is to embed a quality management system within an organization, increasing productivity, reducing unnecessary costs, and ensuring quality of processes and products.
ISO 9001 is applicable to businesses and organizations from every sector. The process oriented approach makes the standard applicable to service organizations as well. Its general guidelines allow for the flexibility needed for today’s diverse business world.
How does ISO 9000 work?
ISO 9000 is set up as a collection of guidelines that help a company establish, maintain, and improve a quality management system. It is important to stress that ISO 9000 is not a rigid set of requirements, and that organizations have flexibility in how they implement their quality management system. This freedom allows the ISO 9000 standard to be used in a wide range of organizations, and in businesses large and small.
One important aspect of ISO 9000 is its process-oriented approach. Instead of looking at a company’s departments and individual processes, ISO 9000 requires that a company look at “the big picture.” How do processes interact? Can they be integrated with one another? What are the important aspects of products and services?
Once this process-oriented approach is implemented, various audits can be done as a check of the effectiveness of your quality management system. There are three main types of audits – 1st, 2nd, and 3rd party audits. An internal audit is a 1st party audit. ISO 9000 encourages (and requires) this type of audit so that an organization can get feedback quickly from those who know the company best. However, this audit process cannot be viewed as impartial. Therefore, 2nd party audits allow for a consumer to evaluate the performance on an organization. As an alternative to a 2nd party audit, many companies choose to become certified with ISO 9000 through a 3rd party audit. In this case, an independent certification body comes into an organization and evaluates it in terms of the ISO 9000 guidelines. If an organization meets the requirements of the standard, it becomes certified in ISO 9000 and carries a seal of quality recognized throughout the world.
Why is ISO 9000 important?
The importance of ISO 9000 is the importance of quality. Many companies offer products and services, but it is those companies who put out the best products and services efficiently that succeed. With ISO 9000, an organization can identify the root of the problem, and therefore find a solution. By improving efficiency, profit can be maximized.
As a broad range of companies implement the ISO 9000 standards, a supply chain with integrity is created. Each company that participates in the process of developing, manufacturing, and marketing a product knows that it is part of an internationally known, reliable system.
Not only do businesses recognize the importance of the ISO 9000, but also the customer realizes the importance of quality. And because the consumer is most important to a company, ISO 9000 makes the customer its focus.
What are the ISO 9000 Principles?
1. A Customer Focus
As stated before, the customer is the primary focus of a business. By understanding and responding to the needs of customers, an organization can correctly targeting key demographics and therefore increase revenue by delivering the products and services that the customer is looking for. With knowledge of customer needs, resources can be allocated appropriately and efficiently. Most importantly, a business’s dedication will be recognized by the customer, creating customer loyalty. And customer loyalty is return business.
2. Good Leadership
A team of good leaders will establish unity and direction quickly in a business environment. Their goal is to motivate everyone working on the project, and successful leaders will minimize miscommunication within and between departments. Their role is intimately intertwined with the next ISO 9000 principle.
3. Involvement of people
The inclusion of everyone on a business team is critical to its success. Involvement of substance will lead to a personal investment in a project and in turn create motivated, committed workers. These people will tend towards innovation and creativity, and utilize their full abilities to complete a project. If people have a vested interest in performance, they will be eager to participate in the continual improvement that ISO 9000 facilitates.
4. Process approach to quality management
The best results are achieved when activities and resources are managed together. This process approach to quality management can lower costs through the effective use of resources, personnel, and time. If a process is controlled as a whole, management can focus on goals that are important to the big picture, and prioritize objectives to maximize effectiveness.
5. Management system approach
Combining management groups may seem like a dangerous clash of titans, but if done correctly can result in an efficient and effective management system. If leaders are dedicated to the goals of an organization, they will aid each other to achieve improved productivity. Some results include integration and alignment of key processes. Additionally, interested parties will recognize the consistency, effectiveness, and efficiency that come with a management system. Both suppliers and customers will gain confidence in a business’s abilities.
6. Continual Improvement
The importance of this principle is paramount, and should a permanent objective of every organization. Through increased performance, a company can increase profits and gain an advantage over competitors. If a whole business is dedicated to continual improvement, improvement activities will be aligned, leading to faster and more efficient development.
Ready for improvement and change, businesses will have the flexibility to react quickly to new opportunities.
7. Factual approach to decision making
Effective decisions are based on the analysis and interpretation of information and data. By making informed decisions, an organization will be more likely to make the right decision. As companies make this a habit, they will be able to demonstrate the effectiveness of past decisions. This will put confidence in current and future decisions.
8. Supplier relationships
It is important to establish a mutually beneficial supplier relationship; such a relationship creates value for both parties. A supplier that recognizes a mutually beneficial relationship will be quick to react when a business needs to respond to customer needs or market changes. Through close contact and interaction with a supplier, both organizations will be able to optimize resources and costs.
Why is root cause analysis and systemic corrective action so important in management system standards, such as ISO 9001?
When problem solving, it is important to find the cause of problem in order to develop a solution. Sometimes, the most obvious cause is not the right one. This is why ISO 9000 stresses the importance of finding the root cause(s) of a problem. There may be multiple, subtle reasons why a process isn’t working correctly, and finding the actual causes will lead a company one step closer to a solution and implementation of corrective actions.
The goal of finding root causes is to improve the way problems are managed. Becoming adept in recognizing the root causes of a problem will lead to a reduced impact, a containment of error, and the prevention of recurrence. Identifying and correcting root causes will also lead to the reduction of unnecessary efforts which in turn will lower the cost of maintaining quality. As more and more corrective actions are taken, processes will become more stable, and continual improvement will face less interruptions.
How does ISO 9000 interact with other standards?
ISO 9000 is the standard for a quality management system that closely resembles many other management systems. These other systems, based on health, safety, the environment, and business continuity, can be integrated into an overarching business management system. Benefits of this system include aligned interests, reduced costs, and improved efficiency. With one of these systems in place, it is easier to implement any of the others; many documents required for a different standard are already prepared, and personnel are already accustomed to the audit process. Using multiple standards will not only increase the efficiency of an organization, but increase the integrity of its operations.
What does ISO 9000 mean to me and my company?
ISO 9000 is a standard created to make the attainment of quality, consistent products easier by providing specific steps for development of an organization’s quality management system. This quality management system is meant to monitor the progress of a product or service as it goes through each stage of production, from development to testing to assembly to customer feedback.
One cornerstone of ISO 9000 is continual improvement. No company should ever be satisfied with the conditions of a process at the given moment; they should always be looking for ways to make these processes more efficient and effective. ISO 9000 was written with the business world’s insatiable desire for excellence in mind. This is why continual improvement is a requirement of the standard – to inspire progress and the pursuit of perfection.
ISO 9000 is an internationally recognized standard, and that may seem daunting for some smaller businesses. How are they going to implement the same standard adopted by multi-national corporations? Quite easily, actually. ISO 9000 is a flexible standard that lays down requirements for an organization to follow, but allows the organization to fulfill these requirements any way they choose. This increases ISO 9000’s scope of effectiveness, allowing a wide range of companies to create quality management systems that match their needs.
ISO 9000 is seen in every sector of the business world, and its success is a testament to its worth. With a focus on customer satisfaction, products and services improve and flourish under ISO 9000’s quality management system. With a combination of continual improvement and corrective actions – tenets of ISO 9000 – a business will create processes that run smoothly and efficiently.
How will ISO 9000 benefit my small business?
A good foundation builds a good business, and ISO 9000 is a good foundation for small businesses that want to expand their market. By introducing a quality management system like ISO 9000 to a small business, the quality of processes will increase and costs due to inefficiency will decrease. In addition, a small business will be able to advertise their use of the internationally recognized ISO 9000. This may create business opportunities that were not available before an objectively verified quality management system was in place.
Having management systems in place, such as ISO 9000, will also help when selling a business. The integrity and value of a small business will be apparent with well-documented processes and proof of quality. ISO 9000 will ensure the reputation of your business in any situation.