A quality system standard ISO 9000


ISO: 9000 quality system standard series was developed by the Technical Committee 176 of the International Standard Organization (ISO) and approved in its present form in 1987. The environment is competitive. Customers were required to perform special inspections at great expenditure to assess the supplier’s quality standards.

ISO: 9000 is the result of the joint action of 26 largest consumer and producer nations including India under the sponsorship of International Standards Organization (ISO). These standards were issued by ISO in Geneva in 1987. ISO: 9000 series is considered as the minimum acceptable level of standards. Since then several countries have adopted it as their national quality standard. Its Indian equivalent is commonly referred to as IS: 14000 series.

These standards are in use for external quality assurance for contracts to provide third party assurance to the customer of a company, of a company’s ability to satisfy contractual requirements.

ISO: 9000 is today recognized internationally as a benchmark for measuring quality.

This is achieved by prescribed documentation. There are documented procedures to perform work and records are kept as a proof of the procedures being followed.

ISO: 9000 and Exports to EC Countries:

The popular conception is that this registration is necessary to export to EC countries. Incentives declared to ISO registered companies have added to this conception. ISO has come to be regarded as a trade barrier.

In reality, it is advantageous to have registration to export to EEC countries but it is not mandatory. It depends upon the customers and the supplier. It is insisted upon when there is a threat to human safety. Though our textile exports contribute 30 p.c. to all our total exports, there is hardly any textile company with ISO registration.

ISO and TQM:

TQM (Total Quality Management) is a mechanism to change a company’s culture to reach its goals. ISO facilitates this change. ISO is a sub-set of TQM. It is just the beginning of TQM process. TQM is much more comprehensive. It looks for quality in four dimensions customer requirements, management commitment, total companywide participation and systematic analysis of quality problems.

No Guarantee of Quality:

ISO: 9000 is conditional. It guarantees consistency of quality of output subject to following the procedures. Even after registration, a company producing 25% bad quality prior to registration may continue to do so. ISO identifies problem areas. These can be taken as inputs to quality improvement program. Then only, ISO benefits accrue to the organization.

Generic Standards:

The ISO: 9000 standards are generic. They are written for all companies irrespective of the size, industry, country and sectors of company activities being measured.

There are several assessing bodies all over the world. Thus, interpretation is the key to the standard.

Minimum Quality Requirements:

ISO: 9000 represents minimum quality requirements unlike Deming prize (Japan) or Malcom Award (US) which require greater planning since they are focused on customer satisfaction and excellence. Japan, therefore has not adopted ISO: 9000 as its national quality standard.