Saturday, December 29, 2007

Qua Vadis quality management standardization?

International committee ISO/TC 176 is responsible organization for the general standardization in the field of quality management. That committee has defined in 2001 a long term strategic plan for the quality management standardization in document “Horizon 2010”. That consists of vision, goals, and strategic intents and strategies.

The whole international standards family of quality management consists of many different kinds of documents prepared by the ISO/TC 176 committee and some other sector specific standardization committees. Now the fourth generation of the ISO 9000 standards is under preparation consisting of amendment of ISO 9001 and revision of ISO 9004

  • Amending ISO 9001, “Quality management systems – Requirements” includes only very few minor changes in the text.
  • Revising ISO 9004, “Managing for sustainable success – A quality management approach” is a complete rewriting the whole standard in the form of general guidance.

The new ISO 9001 will be published in 2008 and ISO 9004 in 2009. Now draft documents are available.

Although the situation seems to be reasonably good in general and the basic ISO 9000 standardization (ISO 9001 and ISO 9004 standards) have had an enormous impact on the development of quality practices globally, this has not taken place without problems and drawbacks:

  • There is stagnation in the development of the ISO 9001 standard. Factually there has been no essential development during the recent 20 years in the standard and no remarkable change is expected during the next 10 years. However, organizational business environments and communities are changing at increasing pace.
  • Standard ISO 9004 is too general, vague, and customary and therefore hardly can provide practical guidance or support for organizations’ performance development. There are better other literature and reference material available for this purpose. Assessment model in the new draft standard is theoretical and does not reflect the needs of organizations. It cannot compete with the recognized performance excellence models (quality awards criteria).
  • ISO 9000 standardization process is too slow and poorly managed and cannot follow the general development and trends of business environments and society at large.
  • Standardization bodies have weak means to control or support the use of the standards. The use of the standards is directed strongly by commercial consulting / certification business but not by genuine business needs.

When we started the ongoing work with the next generation of the ISO 9000 standards we had a strong enthusiasm – at least with the ISO 9004 standard – to develop something different from earlier but later it proved that that was not possible with the existing standardization practices.

In spite of this harmful development in the standardization, however, organizations have all possibilities to get maximum benefits in their realizing ISO 9000 standards with their own proactive activities by:

  1. Understanding the ultimate purposes of the ISO 9000 standards.
  2. Avoiding the known problems of ISO 9000 applications, and quality realizations in general.
  3. Liberating themselves from the enslaving formalism of the standards documents and consultants / certifiers.
  4. Taking into account the genuine needs, expectations and environments of the business in question.
  5. Applying also all other beneficial references with the ISO 9000 standards. A good way to start to use the ISO 9000 standards is to carry out self-assessment based on some recognized performance excellence model.
  6. Challenging to the future by recognizing the weak signals in the standardization in a multi-faceted way.


Blogger tanyaa said...

Today most activities which seem to be sound, cosy and helpful - or sometimes simply useful - are called ?sustainable'. Of course the requirements for measuring sustainability increased rapidly. Many different systems of indicators and conflicting opinions about the adequate approach characterise the present situation. Nevertheless we add another system with an specific approach to evaluate processes of local and regional development. In our opinion it is able notably to refer to the quality of the concept of sustainability. The basic system is threefold and bears analogy to the model of total quality management. We distinguish between: · The assessment of projects with respect to material, procedural and ethical implications. The conceptual framework is translated into an evaluation checklist to systematise the discussion of the character and general impact of a given project or programme. The methodology of this section has been presented at the 39th ERSA Congress 1999 in Dublin even and until now has been applied in different fields.
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29 September, 2008 11:20  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is the link to ERSA Web pages:

30 January, 2009 22:45  
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18 November, 2009 02:47  
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... And nobody needs any quality management system ... or a TQM ...

18 November, 2009 10:06  
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Definitely, certification has had negative impact to the real development of quality in organizations.

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31 October, 2017 09:43  
Blogger Juhani Anttila said...

Third party ISO 9001 certification is a pseudo solution and also one major reason to the present crisis of the quality management profession:
- There is a broad consensus that the certificate does no guarantee quality or compliance
- Number of certificates globally represent only c. 0.5% of the companies. The certification has reached the saturation level and became less attractive as a sign of quality.
- Presence or absence of ISO 9001 certification is a poor predictor of organizational performance and product quality
- General requirement standardization (ISO 9001) has caused increasing trade barriers as defined by the WTO.
- Commercialized certification has been the major factor “to detriment of the primary use of standards” and “the corruption of the core concept of ISO 9000 standards”, as said already in 1994 the news letter of the ISO Central Office.
- In fact, this has harmful influence on the whole quality discipline especially in the circumstances where we have a lot of alternative truths and options.
The problems are widely recognized, but nobody has done anything to remedy the situation (“Functional stupidity”, Alvesson and Spicer).
See also our article: Juhani Anttila and Kari Jussila: ISO 9001:2015 – a questionable reform. What should the implementing organisations understand and do? Total Quality Management, 2017,

31 October, 2017 10:27  

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