ISO 9000 is a term that people use when referring to what is actually a series of international standards for quality management systems.
These standards can be applied to almost any company -- from product manufacturers to service providers; they are not specific to any product or industry.
The ISO 9000 series of standards contain requirements and guidelines for establishing and maintaining a company's quality management system.
Rather than dictate specifications for your final product -- what you produce -- ISO 9000 focuses further "upstream" on the processes -- or how you produce. The ISO 9000 Standards require documented systems for controlling the processes you use to develop and produce your products. These types of standards are based on the idea that there are certain elements every quality management system must have in place in order to ensure that quality products and services are consistently produced on time.
Why would my company want to be registered?
A major reason that most companies want to become registered is that their customers are demanding it. Registration to one of the ISO 9000 Standards reassures your customers that you have a quality system with the capability to provide quality products and/or services on time. Some of the other benefits a company might expect to see include:
Competitive advantages in marketing an improved "Quality Image"
Improved consistency in internal operations (less scrap/rework)
Improved quality in supplied products and services
A reduction in the number of customer audits
A stronger focus on continuous improvement
Better communication company-wide
Reduced costs and facility performance improvements
Better documentation of processes
And all of the above changes can lead to higher levels of financial security for the company and its employees.
How is the documentation system structured?
The quality manual describes a company's quality policy and the general company-wide structure and methods for maintaining the quality management system. The manual also references the related quality system procedures followed to meet the specified policies and approaches.
Documented procedures are used to specify who does what, when it is done, and what documentation is used to verify that the quality activity was executed as required.
Work instructions are used to detail how particular tasks are to be performed where the absence of such instructions would adversely affect quality. Usually there are two types of work instructions -- system related and contract related instructions.
Records are used to provide assurance/evidence that the required product or service quality was achieved, and that the company's quality policy has been implemented correctly. For more information on the levels of documentation, attend our course Successfully Completing Documentation Requirements for ISO 9000 Registration.