Content of ISO 9000

ISO 8402 deals with standardization of quality vocabulary. ISO 9000 is actually a series of guidelines for selection and use of the appropriate systems standards of ISO 9001, ISO 9002, and ISO 9003. Thus, ISO 9000 is the road map to the entire series. ISO 9004 helps building up a quality system that can fit to a specific situation. It offers guidelines for interpreting the elements required in ISO 9001, ISO 9002 or ISO 9003. There are 20 chapters in ISO 9004, viz: (1) scope and field of application, (2) references,(3) definitions,(4) management responsibility,(5) quality system principles (structure of quality, documentation and auditing of the quality system)(6)economies (quality related cost considerations), (7) quality in marketing, (8) quality in specification and design (9) quality in procurement, (10) quality in production (process control) (11) control of production,(12) product verification (inspection and testing), (13) control of measuring ad test equipment,(14) non-conformity (control of non confirming product), (15) corrective action,(16) handling and post production actions personnel(training), (19) product safety and liability, and (20) statistical methods.

After a company adopts ISO 9000, an independent official certifying body will assess the company. The assessor will check whether the company, desirous of the certification, has covered the basic quality elements pertaining to its industry, business, and customers. The firm then gets certified to either ISO 9001 or ISO 9002 or ISO 9003.

ISO 9001 is the most difficult of the three standards to be chosen for certification, because it includes all the twenty elements. This comprehensive certificate is desired by manufacturing organizations which design their own products. For ISO 9002 certificate, two of those twenty elements are dropped viz. design and servicing so as to focus on manufacturing. ISO 9002 applies to firms which provide goods and / or services as per the design or specifications given by the customer. Many process industries used to opt for the ISO 9002 certification as they thought that their activities neither involve design nor servicing. However, now many of these firms are seeing the parallels between R&D and ‘design’ under the ISO and hence opting for the comprehensive ISO 9001 certification. The ISO 9003 standards drop most of manufacturing, leaving only final testing and inspection. ISO 9003 standard drops most of manufacturing, leaving only final testing and inspection. ISO 9003 certification is generally desired by organizations like the testing laboratories which inspect and test the supplied products. This ISO standard is the least comprehensive of the three.

It may be worth repeating that ISO 9000 series is a system standard and not a product quality standard. If a firm gets ISO 9000 certification, it does not automatically mean that the firm’s products /services are superior in quality to the other firm which has not opted for such certification. For instance, for a long time, Japanese firms producing excellent quality products have not bothered to obtain the ISO certification. This does not make their products and services inferior in quality:

Benefits from ISO 9000:

There are many benefits of getting an ISO certification:

1. ISO 9000 certification has become the de facto minimum requirements for those wishing to compete globally.
2. All actions in preparing for ISO 9000 certification and in maintaining the certificate would result in streamlining of the quality management system which may lead to improvements in product quality. The extent of improvement may vary one firm to another. In any case, the formal documentation procedures which ISO 9000 demand would minimize misinterpretations, manipulations and malpractices.
3. It can also lead to significant cost reductions through reductions in re work, warranty work, repair, scrap etc.
4. ISO 9000 lays stress on customer orientation. This would result in better overall results for the company in addition to improving customer relations.
5. There may be an impetus to improve employee relations, employee empowerment and organizational development.

Getting the ISO 9000 certification is not all. There are re-audits by the ISO registrars every three years and surveillance audits approximately audits approximately twice a year in order to ensure continued compliance. ISO 9000 certificate is valid for not more than three years. In order that system standards translate to product /service quality, it requires that a strong commitment to quality continues to be present with the top levels management and that there are attitudinal changes at all levels in the entire organization. This takes time, training, and sustained management effort. After all, ISO 9000 certification can only be a part of the total quality management effort.

ISO 9000 Standards as Non Tariff Trade Barriers:

Some countries, especially the developing ones, have feared that ISO 9000could be used as trade barrier (NTB) by the developed countries.1992 was the year was the year in which the European start asking for full compliance to ISO 9000 for imports from other countries; and the year 1992 was dreaded for that reason. However, such fears of ISO 9000 being a trade barrier do not hold much credibility. In India most of the organizations are getting certified for ISO 9000 standards as an impetus to continuous improvement in our organizations, so that ‘Made in India’ products are sought after internationally and Indian companies becomes truly global players.

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