ISO 9000, ISO 9001 and ISO 9004

Introduction to ISO Certification

Certification is a way to attest, by the intermediary of a third-party certifier, to a company's ability to provide a service, product or system in accordance with client requirements and regulation requirements. ISO and IEC give the following definition:

Procedure by which a third party gives written assurance
that a product, process or service complies with the requirements
specified in a benchmark.

The ISO 9000 family of standards corresponds to all the management best practices benchmarks as regards quality, which are defined by ISO (the International Organisation for Standardization).

ISO 9000 standards were originally written in 1987, with revisions taking place in 1994 and 2000. Thus, the 2000 version of the ISO 9001 standard, which is part of the ISO 9000 family, is written "ISO 9001:2000". The ISO 9001:2000 standard mainly focuses on the processes used to produce a service or product, whereas the ISO 9001:1994 standard was mainly focused on the product itself. Here is an overview of all the different standards in the ISO 9000 family:

  • ISO 9000: "Quality Management Systems - Basic Principles and Vocabulary". The ISO 9000 standard describes the principles of a quality management system and defines the terminology
  • ISO 9001: "Quality Management Systems - Requirements". The ISO 9001 standard describes the requirements relative to a quality management system either for internal use or for contractual or certification purposes. Therefore, this standard is a group of requirements that companies must follow
  • ISO 9004: "Quality Management Systems - Guidelines for Improving Performance". This standard, which is intended for internal use and not for contractual purposes, focuses particularly on continually improving performance
  • ISO 10011: "Guidelines for auditing quality management and/or environmental management systems".

ISO Certification

ISO does not have the authority to issue certification itself. This task is left to a third-party certification organization, which is itself accredited in France by COFRAC (the French Accreditation Committee).

Certification is valid for 3 years and is renewable upon a quality audit. Prior to the audit, some companies perform a test audit (or a pre-ISO 9000 audit) to make sure that the measures that have been put in place conform with the ISO benchmark.

It is important to keep in mind that certification is based on the processes that produce a product or service and not the product/service itself.

Outline of the ISO 9001 Standard

The ISO 9001 standard is not free and is sold on the ISO website. Here is the outline:

  1. Area of application
    1. General points
    2. Area of application
  2. Normative reference
  3. Terms and definitions
  4. Quality Management System
    1. General requirements
    2. General requirements in terms of documentation
  5. Management responsibility
    1. Management commitment
    2. Listening to the client
    3. Quality policy
    4. Planning
    5. Responsibility, authority and communication
    6. Management review
  6. Resource management
    1. Making resources available
    2. Human resources
    3. Intrastructures
    4. Workplace environment
  7. Product creation
  8. Planning product creation
  9. Processes relating to clients
  10. Design and development
  11. Purchases
  12. Service production and preparation
  13. Mastering monitoring and measurement mechanisms
  • Measurement, analysis and improvement
    1. General points
    2. Monitoring and measurement
    3. Controlling nonconformities
    4. Data analysis
    5. Improvement

    Article written on 16 December 2004 by Jean-François Pillou

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