ISO 9000 quality principles
Set of quality standards
It's quite simple for an organization to reach the decision that it wants to improve quality.
However, without a set of standards to guide its improvement efforts, the company may struggle to decide where to start.
ISO is a nongovernmental, worldwide organization that encompasses the national standards institutes of more than 158 countries.
Officially, the organization is known as the "International Organization for Standardization." However, since the name would be abbreviated differently in several countries, the acronym ISO was chosen, based upon the Greek word isos, meaning "equal."
The ISO 9000 series was developed to help organizations effectively design and implement efficient quality systems. The series consists of individual, yet interrelated, standards that complement each other and act as a framework that can provide auditable requirements for companies that want to complete registration.
Originally published in 1987, the ISO 9000 series has undergone revisions in 1994, 2000 and 2005, with the most recent revision creating standards for definitions, requirements, and continual improvement.
The ISO 9000 series has become an internationally recognized language for quality, and three concepts are universal to all markets.
Are first of all:
market driven, and
based on consensus
Because ISO is a nongovernmental organization, it doesn't have the authority to legally require companies to follow the standards. Thus, ISO is voluntary.
However, some countries have adopted certain standards – health, safety, or environmental, for instance – as part of their regulatory frameworks. In such cases, even though ISO standards are voluntary, they may become a market requirement.
ISO standards are market driven. This means that standards are developed when there is a market requirement, which is determined by a group of experts in the field who have asked for a particular standard.
Based on consensus
Because ISO standards are based on consensus among interested groups, they are ensured widespread applicability. The standards are regularly reviewed, at least once every five years, to determine whether they should be modified, maintained, or withdrawn.
8 principles of ISO 9000
The ISO 9000 standards are based on eight principles of quality management that can be applied by senior managers to improve their organizations.
Customers are the backbone of most organizations, as they are depended upon to purchase goods and services. Companies should have a good understanding of their customers' needs and do their best to meet these requirements.
For example, a media company conducted a month-long study of its customers' needs and realized it was not placing enough emphasis on providing customer support. The company was able to remedy this problem to improve customer relations.
Effective leadership is a vital ISO 9000 quality principle, since leaders determine a company's direction and purpose. When leadership creates an environment in which employees want to be involved in achieving organizational objectives, everyone is inspired to produce quality results.
When the media company realized that customers were unhappy with its service, leadership had to get front-line employees onboard with the needed changes. To do so, a reward system was created to recognize customer-service reps who were especially helpful to customers, which inspired all employees to provide exceptional service.
Involvement of an organization's people is a key ISO 9000 quality management principle. When employees of all levels are involved in improving the company, a variety of talents and abilities can be used for the benefit of the company's quality improvement efforts.
The media company held a meeting with all employees to outline the problems it was having with customer dissatisfaction. All staff were encouraged to become involved with improving service and overall quality.
Taking a process approach to quality management means that all inputs, outputs, and resources related to a company's activities are managed as a process.
The media company revised the process it used to field customer complaints in its call center so that one standardized process existed, which led to greater efficiency and understanding among all employees involved with call center operations.
When the media company realized its customers were unhappy with the service it provided, it was able to use ISO 9000 quality principles to improve leadership, focus on its customers, encourage employee involvement, and use a process approach to quality management. These principles enabled the organization to find new ways of keeping its customers satisfied.