We had solid a presentation and discussion about ISO 9000 compliance at the September ASQ 1212 section meeting. The presentation stimulated an important question: Is your company’s ISO 9000 certification compliance or illusion?
Many companies today require ISO 9000 certification of their suppliers, in order to establish a fundamental baseline of quality for the materials they will receive. The ISO 9000 standard provides a solid framework to build upon, if the organization truly embraces the fundamentals. Companies that leveraged this framework to its full benefit see and reap the benefits. So do their customers. Through the continuous improvement mindset the framework creates, the organization eventually performs many activities because of the value these activities bring either to organization itself or to the quality of the product. These organizations tend to consider themselves “audit-ready” all the time.
All too often, companies don’t embrace the standard and the practices within, but rather give cursory support. The organization performs “registrar shopping” to find one that will offer the certification they want for the least amount of effort. When this happens, I contend that the certified company provides an illusion that they of compliance, but they actually fail to practice the principles of the standard. This may give some benefit to customers through apparent compliance, yet the company does not receive the full benefit of the compliance, simply because it fails to integrate the practices and make them part of the organization’s culture. It is unfortunate when a company maintains certification for many years and still does many thing “because the standard requires it.”
As quality professionals we have to do our best to educate and demonstrate that the fundamentals of these standards have value to the organization, our products, and our customers. If we can get part of our organizations to realize these benefits, the data will help drive further progress and open their eyes to a better world.
Martin Palczynski is passionate about quality and promoting a positive relationship between quality and engineering functions. He firmly believes that Quality Engineers are there to support and guide organizations by leveraging and promoting the use of quality tools and methods. Martin holds a CSQE, CQE, and SSGB certifications. He has over 20 year experience with Motorola, Rockwell Automation, and Nokia.