The Roadmap to Successful Quality Management
Throughout our industry, ISO 9000 is a common tool used by companies in developing, deploying, and documenting their internal quality control standards. Yet surprisingly, there are some misconceptions about what the ISO quality standard really is.
1. What is ISO 9000?
It is a family of international standards for quality management and quality assurance, and one of many sets of standards developed by the International Organization for Standardization.
The ISO 9000 standards lay out the fundamentals and terminology of quality management systems, providing guidance in areas such as customer focus, leadership, engagement, process approach, improvement, decision-making, and relationship management.
Not specific to any one industry or any one type or size of organization, ISO 9000 was created to provide a broad roadmap that helps companies maintain an efficient quality system and provide assurance to customers that certain standards have been met.
2. What is the difference between ISO 9000 and ISO 9001?
According to the American Society for Quality (ASQ), ISO 9000 is a series, or family, of quality management standards, while ISO 9001 is an individual standard within the family. The ISO 9000 family also includes an individual standard called ISO 9000, which lays out the terminology and other basics of quality management systems (QMS).
While both the individual ISO 9000 and ISO 9001 standards are related to QMS, ISO 9001 is the only standard in the family to which organizations can be certified.
3. What is the importance of the ISO 9000 family?
In manufacturing, ISO 9000 quality standards help organizations create, manage, and improve processes for vital activities such as:
- Acquiring materials
- Establishing work instructions
- Designing sampling plans and inspection procedures
- Complying with all production and inspection processes
Additionally, ISO 9000 is designed so that it can be adopted by organizations of all sizes and adapted to their specific needs, providing the basis for effective quality control programs.
4. What is the difference between ISO registered and ISO compliant?
Metal Cutting Corporation is ISO 9000 registered, with a quality management system (QMS) that is carefully planned to help us achieve our goals and deliver the highest products and services.
However, some suppliers may say that they are ISO compliant. That means they might not have completed the process of being evaluated by a third-party registrar that audits companies and registers them as certified ISO suppliers.
Unlike “ISO compliance,” ISO registration demonstrates that an organization has put in the extra time, money, and effort required to have its adherence to ISO quality standards officially verified by an independent auditor.
5. What is the current version of ISO 9000?
All ISO standards (not just ISO 9000) are reviewed every five years to determine if a revision is needed to keep the standards current and relevant for the marketplace. The ISO 9000 standards are revised periodically, and the newest versions — ISO 9000:2015 and ISO 9001:2015 — were unveiled in September 2015.
All organizations that use ISO 9001 as their quality management standard had until September 2018 to make the transition from the previous version (ISO 9001:2008) and be certified.
Metal Cutting has been continuously ISO 9000 registered since 1994 and was certified as ISO 9001:2015 registered at the end of 2017, ahead of the mandated deadline.
6. What is new in ISO 9001:2015?
While the new version does not seem all that different from ISO 9001:2008, ISO 9001:2015 does add a new level of deliberate thought to business planning.
Changes to ISO Documentation Requirements
With ISO 9001:2015, the standard no longer mandates a quality manual or written procedure. Instead, it is up to the individual organization to determine the best way to document that ISO requirements are being met.
For example, a supplier might use very detailed job travelers or existing equipment manuals to show the quality process that is in place.
However, here at Metal Cutting, we have had great success with our quality manual and think it is still the best way to document that our processes and procedures meet the highest standards. Therefore, we did not do away with our manual from ISO 9001:2008.
Rather, we rewrote our manual to address the new format and changes in ISO 9001:2015. In addition, we have renumbered and expanded our internal written work instructions and procedures as needed to reflect the changes in ISO 9001:2015.
A New Focus on Risk
Another new aspect of ISO 9001:2015 is an increased focus on risk. The standard now encourages companies to not only think about risks within their organization, but also consider where those risks intersect with stakeholders such as customers, suppliers, and even the neighborhood where the business is located, as well as individual job holders.
This risk-based thinking is a natural outgrowth of a focus on customer experience and the increased use of customer surveys. At Metal Cutting, we find a lot of customers are using surveys including risk-based questions and asking suppliers about external audits and their risk assessment processes.
Today, ISO 9001:2015 requires a more formalized, structured way of thinking about risk and how to manage it to achieve business goals. And it extends across everything — from having enough equipment and tracking materials from end to end, to knowing how to respond should an issue arise anywhere within the production process.
7. What are major benefits of ISO 9001 certification?
Over the years, we’ve heard a lot of people complain that “ISO is just more paperwork!”
However, we strongly believe that each iteration of the ISO 9000 standards is a very important tool — one that compels businesses to not only formally commit to certain quality standards, but also continuously look inward for ways to keep improving the quality process.
The ISO quality management standards tell an organization what needs to be done, but not how to do it. Rather, each organization decides the best way to meet the standards.
This “forces” a company to consciously think about risk assessment and all the procedures that are in place, including contract review, traceability of materials, calibration of tools to particular standards, and sampling and inspection.
When every step has been carefully considered and documented, customers can be assured they will get a consistent result and quality product.
In addition, the internal auditing and peer-to-peer reviews that are part of the ISO 9000 process offer ways to open up communication within the organization — for example, allowing employees to suggest new tools, process improvements, or other ideas they might not otherwise get a chance to provide.
8. ISO 9000 standards are just part of Metal Cutting Corporation’s quality commitment.
ISO 9000 standards are a vital quality indicator in many industries, including our own. Our adherence to ISO 9001:2015 tells customers we are committed to implementing structured quality management practices and maintaining up-to-date certification requirements.
You can read more about Metal Cutting’s adherence to ISO 9000 and other quality control measures on the Quality Commitment page of our website.