The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) provides standards for the products, materials, processes and services that the global economy needs — from consistent screw-threading sizes to signs identifying public bathrooms without words. The ISO 9000 family of standards addresses requirements for a quality management system (QMS) that reduces costs and increases profits. Customers worldwide know they will get usable quality at a competitive price from companies that comply with ISO 9000 standards.
ISO 9000: The Family Name
The term ISO 9000 describes the whole family of standards relating to the development, implementation, monitoring, assessment and means of sustaining of a quality management system. According to Bob Tvrdik of Iowa State University’s Center for Industrial Research and Service, though not all companies collect statistics on the benefits of reducing costs due to poor quality production, they discover that profits can increase without any increase in sales when they gain process control through the application of the ISO 9000 quality management system standards.
ISO 9000: The Specific Document
ISO 9000 also refers to a single standard within the family. In this narrow use, the term refers to a document that presents the concepts and defines the terminology used by ISO for this quality management system standard, providing the reference resource for the other documents in the 9000 family that spell out the specific requirements for compliance and registration. For example, ISO 9000 explains that the standards developed for and stated in ISO 9001 and ISO 9004 are based on eight specific quality management principles designed to improve performance and achieve success through a company-wide culture focused on quality control.
ISO 9001: The Requirements and How-Tos
ISO 9001 contains the specific requirements for creating, installing and activating a QMS that meets ISO standards. The family previously included ISO 9002 and 9003, but they became obsolete when the standard was updated in 2000. Prior to that date, ISO 9002 provided quality management standards for production and installation, while ISO 9003 covered the testing and inspection process guidelines. Since 2000, all companies seeking ISO 9000 compliance fulfill the requirements of ISO 9001. Their efforts must be inspected and approved by an independent auditor to receive certification of compliance with this standard. Certification and compliance without it remain voluntary though large companies and governments often require it of their vendors.
ISO 9004: To Ensure Ongoing Success
Beginning in 2000, the ISO 9000 quality management system standards include a requirement for the system to sustain itself and continue the quality improvement process begun with ISO 9001. Guidelines found in ISO 9004 include standards for monitoring quality improvement processes, assessing their effectiveness and setting and meeting new quality goals throughout the company.