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ISO9000

The ISO 9000 Series is a set of individual, but related, international standards on quality management and quality assurance. They are generic (not specific to any particular industry sector). These standards were developed with the goal of documenting and implementing an effective quality system in a company. A quality system is the organization structure, responsibilities, procedures, processes, and resources for implementing quality management. ISO 9000 standards are NOT product standards.

ISO9000:1994 allowed the customer to contractually specify or set preference that Agilent is "registered" to one of the following standards:

  • ISO 9001 covering design, manufacturing, installation, and servicing
  • ISO 9002 covers production, installation, and servicing
  • ISO 9003 final product inspection and test.

ISO9000:2000 is an update of the standard which combines all of these into a single registration. It simplifies things in many ways, but it also assumes that you do everything to a certifiable standard unless you explicitly specify that aspects of your organization are not to be included. 

ISO9000 originated in Defense contracting, giving standards for the government to control its myriad suppliers. It then became BS5750 before being adopted by the International Standards Organization. This contracting history shows, especially in earlier versions of the standard. ISO9000:2000 makes it more focused on general businesses.

The biggest problem with ISO9000 is often in its implementation (which can be exacerbated by detached consultants and pedantic auditors). This has led it to be viewed by many as a bureaucratic system that costs far more than it delivers. But if it is viewed and treated simply as a system to help us deliver what we have promised, then it can become a critical component of our business organization.

See also:

ISO, Process Management

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