With the rise of global markets and the need to ensure that a customer’s expectations regarding the quality of goods and services are met, there has been a great reliance on international standards in a variety of areas. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has developed series of business process guidelines that have become common standards for businesses. ISO standards typically are reviewed and revised, if necessary, every five years.
In 1987, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) published a series of standards on quality management systems. These standards formed the ISO 9000 family of standards. The development of the standards began in the 1950s from collaboration between the defense departments of the United States and the United Kingdom to reduce subjective evaluations done by producers and purchasers of goods and services. Over the years, these ISO standards have been adopted by businesses as well.
The ISO 9000 Series
The ISO 9000 series is made up of the following standards: ISO 9000, ISO 9001, ISO 9004 and ISO 19011. ISO 9000 outlines the basics of quality management systems and defines key terms. The ISO 9001 standard specifies requirements available to customers and providers of goods and services that show systems compliance, quality management system certification and contract fulfillment. ISO 19011 provides audit standards for environmental and quality systems. The past role of ISO 9004 has been laying out relatively general criteria expanding on ISO 9001 system requirements.
ISO 9004 Development
Through its history, ISO 9004 standards covered customer focus, defect prevention, cost control, process approach, documentation, purchasing, factual approach to decision-making, training and employee motivation. These guidelines have evolved through four revisions beginning with ISO 9004: 1987, then ISO 9004: 1994, ISO 9004: 2000 and ISO 9004: 2009. Up to the 2009 revision, the objective of ISO 9004 has been to support ISO 9001 with past focus on indicating ways to meet or surpass ISO 9001 requirements.
ISO 9004: 2009
ISO 9004: 2009 breaks from the past emphasis on the production of goods and services to the long-term economic survival of a business. The 2009 revision is similar to other ISO revisions with guidance on a systematic approach for this long-term survival. A key element in the standards is internal assessments of leadership, strategy, resources and processes.
Incorporation of language discussing stakeholders distinguishes the ISO 9004: 2009 revision from the goals of ISO 9001. Implicit within the ISO 9004: 2009 standards are the interests of stockholders. This is not a concern in ISO 9001. Future revisions to ISO 9004 are expected to continue this emphasis on the economic success of the organization, leaving quality concerns to the other ISO standards.