Management responsibility with Quality takes on a new dimension with the recently released version of ISO 9000 International Quality Standard. Since the beginning in 1887, the ISO 9000 standards series has contained fundamental requirements for management. However, one key criticism of previous versions has been that management had a minimal role that did not require them to act beyond maintenance into the arena of innovative organizational improvement.
The latest version released in December, 2000, is designed to transfer the responsibility for the quality management system from Quality Assurance to top management. The aim is to ensure that investments in Quality Management Systems, in addition to responding to customer needs, enhance the efficiency of the organization, its operations and economic performance. By mean of making Quality a fundamental part of the business planning and execution processes, the revised standards are of specific help to organizations wishing to go beyond simple compliance with requirements for the sake of certification.
The ISO 9000 certification process has existed for more than a decade. Originating in 1987 with a bulletin from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), they have earned a global reputation as the basis for establishing Quality Management Systems. According to ISO, the new ISO 9000:2000 standards are based on eight quality management principles essential to improve organizational performance and achieve business success. This approach is significantly different from previous versions of the standard, which emphasized and promoted merely compliance and consistency rather than change and improvement. New principles aim at relating modern quality management to the processes and activities of an organization, including the promotion of continual improvement and achievement of customer delight.
The eight principles are: Focus on your customers (Understand customer needs, meet customer requirements and strive for exceeding customer expectations); Provide Leadership (Leaders must establish a unity of purpose, set the direction the organization should take and create an environment that encourages people to achieve the organization’s objectives); Involve your people; (Encourage the involvement of people at all levels and help them develop and use their abilities); Use a process approach (Use a process approach to manage activities and related resources); Take a systems approach (Identify interrelated processes and treat them as a system); Encourage continual improvement (Make a permanent commitment to continually improve overall performance); Decide with knowledge and information (Make decisions based on knowledge and the analysis of factual information and data); Work with your suppliers (Maintain a mutually beneficial relationship with suppliers).
While retaining the essence of the original requirements, the 2000 version enhances and repositions them into four main sections: Management responsibility – a commitment to the establishment of Quality policy, planning and objectives as well as meeting customer requirements; Resource Management – resource determination and availability such as competent human resources, equipment, facilities, information, communication and work environment; Product or Service realization – determination and specification of customer requirements and organizational capabilities to produce under controlled conditions and Measurement, Analysis and Improvement – measurement and constant improvement of customer satisfaction, systems, processes, products and services.
It is perhaps the concept of “continuous improvement” that is most relevant to management as per ISO 9000:2000. In the past, certified companies put their best efforts in producing a consistent and reliable product. However, organizational stakeholders like the customer, the people who worked in the organization, the owners and investors and society in general were not properly addressed. ISO 9000:2000 claims to have made up those deficiencies as to become a true “Quality System” model that can deliver tangible benefits to an organization, its customers and society in general.
As a team we have been supporting organizations of different sizes and industries in establishing their respective Quality Management System as per the ISO 9000:2000 scheme, regardless if the interest is to pursue certification or just use the model as a guideline. In both cases our findings are that, once the System is in place, strategic gains become very obvious. When creatively applied, the model allows top executives to address Quality from a strategic perspective, facilitating a roadmap for strengthening the competitiveness of the enterprise and eliminating unnecessary redundancies in strategic initiatives.
Copyright 2002 QBS, Inc.