Times they are a-changing, and with the world becoming so much smaller and businesses “doing their business” globally, it is important that there are some sort of regulatory standards so that the consumer knows just what to expect about the quality of goods they are receiving.
ISO 9000 is designed to do just that. It is a family of standards regarding quality management systems. Maintained by the ISO (International Organization for Standardization) they regularly update their rules to keep up with the times, and go about advocating these basic standard requirements for trade. As an example, some of the ISO 9001/2008 (one of the standards within the ISO family) including the following:
- a set of procedures which aim to cover and include all key processes of the business
- making sure that these processes are effective by constant monitoring
- keeping adequate and up to date records at all times
- quality control on output for possible defects, with appropriate corrective actions where needed
- regular reviews of the effectiveness of the processes and quality systems in place
- continual improvement
Now, don’t get too complacent, just because a company is ISO 9001 certified, for example, there are no guarantees of the quality of their products or services, but you can be sure that there are formalized business processes which are being applied in the process of producing those products or services.
ISO 9000 Standards
ISO 9000 standards actually originated in the manufacturing industry, but have grown to incorporate many different types of organizations - these days the “product” can refer to either a physical object like the design and operation of a conveyor system, a service or indeed some type of software – like Google Chrome. If you want to see a comprehensive ISO9000 try NASA.
Because ISO 9001 is, by necessity, standard and abstract, it needs careful interpretation so that it can make sense for a particular type of organization. The software development industry, for example, can not really be compared to making canned soups or to financial counseling services, but because each is a business in its own right the same guidelines and principles of ISO 9001 can apply to all. Company management is company management after all, and it doesn’t really make much difference for basic management guidelines. Because of the wide scope of the ISO 9001:2000 systems, they have been successfully implemented by a wide range of organizations such as auditors, professional soccer teams in Mexico, city councils in the UK and even some police departments in the USA.
ISO 9000 for Specific Industries
Over time, as was bound to happen, some industry sectors decided that they wanted standardized interpretations of the guidelines which related specifically to their individual marketplace. This not only meant “industry specific” regulations but also hoped to ensure that any auditors who were sent to assess them were appropriately trained and experienced for their industry. There are now ISO 9000 for specific industries in many different areas including:
- Information technology industry and software development (TickIT)
- Aerospace Basic Quality System Standard (AS9001 is the latest version)
- Pharmaceutical Packaging Materials (PS 9000)
- Major automotive manufactufing industry (QS 9000)
- Telecom Quality Management and Measurement System Standard (TL 9000)
- Medical Industry (ISO 13485:2003)
- Computer software industry (ISO/IEC 90003:2004)
If you deal with a company which is ISO 9000 certified, you might not know for sure that their products are perfect, but you do know for sure that they are trying their very best to make it so! Learn more about ISO 9000.