What Is ISO 9000?

ISO 9000 is a set of international standards, established by the International Organization for Standardization, as the basis for quality management systems and quality assurance.

Understanding ISO 9000

ISO 9000 standards were developed to help manufacturers effectively document the quality system elements that need to be implemented to maintain an efficient quality system. They are increasingly being applied to any organization or industry. ISO 9001 is now being used as a basis for quality management, in the service sector, education and in government, because it can help organizations satisfy their customers, meet regulatory requirements and achieve continual improvement.

The ISO 9000 series, or family of standards, was originally published in 1987, by the International Organization for Standardization. They first gained popularity in Europe, and then spread to the U.S. in the 1990s. As the world’s view of quality assurance has evolved, these standards have been revised, in 2000 and 2008. Today quality management is understood to be about processes that need to be properly managed, both technically and in terms of human resources. Current versions of ISO 9000 and ISO 9001 were published in September 2015.

Key Takeaways

  • ISO 9000 is a set of internationally recognized standards for quality assurance and management.
  • ISO 9000 lays out best practices, guidelines, and a standard vocabulary for quality management systems.
  • ISO 9001 is the only certifiable portion of these standards, with updates published in the year 2015.

ISO 9000 Guidelines

Individuals and organizations cannot be certified to ISO 9000 – it simply lays out the fundamentals and vocabulary of quality management systems. ISO 9001 is the only standard within the ISO 9000 family to which organizations can certify, which is a process that takes over a year and requires substantial documentation to demonstrate conformity.

The ISO 9000 family contains these standards:

  • ISO 9001:2015: Quality management systems — Requirements
  • ISO 9000:2015: Quality management systems — Fundamentals and vocabulary (definitions)
  • ISO 9004:2009: Quality management systems — Managing for the sustained success of an organization (continuous improvement)
  • ISO 19011:2011: Guidelines for auditing management systems

What Is Quality Management?

Quality management is the act of overseeing all activities and tasks needed to maintain a desired level of excellence. This includes the determination of a quality policy, creating and implementing quality planning and assurance, and quality control and quality improvement. It is also referred to as total quality management (TQM). In general, quality management focuses on long-term goals through the implementation of short-term initiatives. 

Quality control (QC) is a key part of quality management and assurance, through which a business seeks to ensure that product quality is maintained or improved with either reduced or zero errors. Quality control requires the business to create an environment in which both management and employees strive for perfection. This is done by training personnel, creating benchmarks for product quality and testing products to check for statistically significant variations. A major aspect of quality control is the establishment of well-defined controls. These controls help standardize both production and reactions to quality issues. Limiting room for error by specifying which production activities are to be completed by which personnel reduces the chance that employees will be involved in tasks for which they do not have adequate training.