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In order to stay competitive, businesses have to be the best at what they do. Company's must be efficient and presise in all aspects of the job. (Metcalfe 1). ISO 9000 is made up of management's responsibility, the producers involved in the Quality Management System, the contract review, the design control, document and data control, purchasing, process control, inspection and testing, control of non-conforming product, corrective action, handling, storage, packaging and delivery, internal quality audits, training, servicing and statistical techniques (Prasanna 1). Quality control and quality assurance is very important there are certain requirements that take time and money to be met but in the end there are benefits. Types of specifications are very significant and the documentation of those is even more. Manufacturers and purchasers have major responsibility in the process of being successful. The quality of a product is so important, especially to the customer. A company's quality management system must become the documented proof of a firm's commitment to quality management. A plan put together with quality procedures and work instructions is provided to help companies design their own quality management system. After completing the quality procedures, companies are audited and then determined if they should be certified for ISO 9000 or not (Parsanna 2). ISO: International Organization of Standards Founded in 1947 in Geneva Switzerland, ISO developed international standards and helped exchange goods and services worldwide. It is made up of over 90 countries including the US, which is called the American National Standards Institute. The name ISO came from the Greek word, "isos," meaning equal (Henkoff 2). ISO was created by business men (Henkoff 2). These business men knew what businesses needed to become more competitive and how they could get higher customer satisfaction, so ISO was developed. ISO is not government regulated, but is ran by organizations like the US Registrar Accreditation Board. Such organizations authorize registrars which issue ISO certificates (Barrier 2). In Europe some organizations are government regulated. The American National Standards Institute runs the ISO in the US and authorizes the US Registrar Accreditation Board (Barrier 2). ISO's job is to set standards for companies all over the world so that their products come out efficiently and to the best quality. This helps the customers who receive the exports know exactly what they are getting and are satisfied with the product. Setting these standards is done by ISO members at assembly meetings.
Proposals are developed by the ISO Council, which is like the board of directors in a business. These meetings are held three times a year and the membership is rotated to allow more representatives in (iso online). Standards are developed by technical committees. 30,000 experts participate to give comments, feedback and to vote in meetings which are held15 times a day electronically. The experts are chosen by an ISO member of that country (iso online). ISO 9000 The ISO 9000 series was published in 1987 (iso online). It is a standardization system that was developed by ISO. It is obtained by 130 countries, but it's main office is in Geneva, Switzerland where the system is coordinated and the finished standards are published (iso online). These ISO standard are rules and guidelines that ensure the product that a manufacturing business produces is safe, reliable and efficient (iso online). These standards makes sure that businesses are living up to their promises. An ISO 9000 certificate is given to a business when it maintains the quality management requirements determined by ISO (Henkoff 1). ISO 9000 helps a business to get certified by telling it what requirements it should meet and how it will meet them. It provides a framework for a company. It sets standards worldwide and help export goods to other countries. However, the company must have good strong leaders for it to thrive. The success of ISO 9000 on a business largely depends on the business's organization. Planning, training, setting and achieving goals are all key to improvement or success of a business (Henkoff 5). ISO 9000 makes sure a company is doing what it says it is doing and helps them do it. However, that doesn't mean it is running the company and telling it what to do (USAToday 1). The business is still an independent business it is just getting advice on how to manufacture things and earning a certificate that is appealing to customers. However, that also doesn't mean that ISO 9000 promises the quality of a company's product will be great; Richard Buerow, director of corporate quality at Motorola states: "With ISO 900 you can still have terrible processes and products. You can certify a manufacturer that makes life jackets from concrete, as long as those jackets are made according to the documented procedures and the company provides the next of kin with instructions on how to complain about defects. That's absurd (Henkoff 3)." Its steps and procedures will help a manufacturer's product become better produced. ISO 9001, 2 & 3 ISO 9000 is divided into three equally ranked quality systems which a business can chooses by what quality system will cover their business process (iso online). ISO 9001 is for a business whose processes range from design and development, to production, installation and servicing. ISO 9002 is for a business that does not carry out design and development but anything else that is under ISO 9001. ISO 9003 is for a business whose process does not include design control, process control, purchasing or servicing, but uses inspection and testing to ensure that final products and services meet specified requirements. Elements of ISO 9000 Element 4.1: Management Responsibility "The responsibility of executive level management in regard to quality policy, goals, commitment and implementation of the company quality system (Stimson 99)." Here management must have a Quality Policy and have it understood throughout the business. It is then management's responsibility to gather resources and have trained employees to do the work. The Quality System is then monitored by management representatives who report back to management to be reviewed (iso online). Element 4.2: Quality System "A Quality System must be used to ensure the product conforms to specifications. The system will be described in documentation of sufficient detail to include structure, processes, and procedures that ensure product quality (Stimson 116)." This system must be fully documented to fit ISO 9000 standards in a quality manual. This manual should contain a table of contents and history of the company (Stimson 168). This manual should also include customer's specifications and requirements (Stimson 165). The system should go with the business's mission and policy and show how its requirements should be met. Written plans should be shown on how to fulfill customer's standards. Element 4.3: Contract Review "A documented system for review and amendment of the contract, to ensure customer performer agreement of expectations (Stimson 317)." Review of the contract will ensure the requirements are stated and documented and will be met. Any amendments should be made to parts of the contract that is weak. Element 4.4: Design Control "A system is required to control, verify, and validate the designs of products and processes to ensure adherence to specifications (Stimson 215)." There are three key types of cycles: requirements, specifications, prototypes, acceptable design in the process of Design Control (Stimson 217). Verification , validation and participation by external and internal customers are needed for input (Stimson 219). Element 4.5: Document and Data Control "Control of the distribution of all documents and data related to quality, is required to associate procedures describing the control mechanisms (Stimson 184)." All documents and data should be controlled and authorized with changes and removals occurring in a controlled manner (iso online). Element 4.6: Purchasing "A purchasing system must ensure the purchased product conforms to specifications that subcontractors maintain quality criteria (Stimson 127)." Information on purchasing must be complete and accurate and venders must be selected (Stimson 129). Element 4.7: Control of Customer-Supplied Product "A process control of any product that is provided by the customer is required for use in the company supply systems (Stimson 249)." During receipt inspection delivery, condition, quantity and fitness of the product should be checked and evaluated (Stimson 256). Element 4.8: Product Identification and Traceability "Demanded by specifications or suitability, a system to identify and trace purchase products during all stages of production. Traceability will include identification of product within batch or lot (Stimson 259)." Inventory and production process is essential with use of identification. Policies will identify those parts in receipt to delivery (Stimson 263). Element 4.9: Process Control "The planning and implementation of production, installation, and service processes affect quantity. Furthermore, it requires that these processes be operated under controlled conditions (Stimson 265)." The process control system is made up of flexibility and customer overview. Changes set baseline of quality (Stimson 2). Process control depends on how the company chooses to define it, what materials to purchase and planning (Stimson 128). Element 4.10: Inspection and Testing "Inspection and testing activities are conducted in order to verify adherence to specifications. Appropriate records will be maintained of the results of these activities (Stimson 279)." Inspection and testing process has policies procedures, documentation including status and employees methodologies (Stimson 289). Element 4.11: Control of Inspection, Measuring, and Test Equipment "The control, calibration and maintenance of equipment, hardware and software that is used for inspection, measuring and testing of product conformance to specifications is required (Stimson 227)." Measurements made, equipment to be used are taken down and kept record of as quality records. Methods are set for trained personnel (iso online). Element 4.12: Inspection and Test Status "The status of a product is identified relative to conformance, to inspection and test criteria. The identification process defined inappropriate procedures, will be maintained throughout the production and post production process to ensure that only an acceptable product is delivered (Stimson 291)." The test will determine if the product passes or fails inspection. Element 4.13: Control of Nonconforming Product "A system that will control product that fails to meet specifications, preclude unintended use, and define product disposition (Stimson 296)." Element 4.14: Corrective and Preventive Action "Systems are needed to correct and prevent non conformance's. Corrective or preventive actions will be appropriate to the risks (Stimson 37)." Formal process should be formed to correct or prevent the problem. Element 4.15: Handling, Storage, Packing, Preservation, and Delivery "A documented system to control post productive activities from acceptance by testing through delivery of product (Stimson 305)." This goes straight to the final customer and must concentrate on customer satisfaction. The key is delivery (Stimson 313). Element 4.16: Control of Quality Records "Documented procedures are required for the identification and disposition of quality records. Quality records are required to demonstrate conformance to the specifications and effectiveness of the quality system (Stimson 195)." Element 4.17: Internal Quality Audits "A program of regular and periodic internal quality audits are required to determining the effectiveness of the quality system (Stimson 202)." IQA(internal quality audit) represents the customer self evaluation and improvement. Audits will be based on documentations affecting quality(Stimson 207). Element 4.18: Training "A training program is required to identify training needs, resources, schedule and records for all persons whose work affects quality. Personnel will be assigned tasks that are appropriate to their level of training and experience (Stimson 150)." Management needs to be specific in what training an employee needs for a certain position, then they must provide the training and assign tasks. All employee training should be kept on record (Stimson 152). Element 4.19: Servicing "The performance of service activities are specified in the contract. Procedures will verify that the service meets specifications (Stimson 326)." Equipment and personnel must be controlled and product's procedures and methods should be carried out correctly (iso online). Element 4.20: Statistical Techniques "The company is required to identify statistical techniques needed to verify adherence to product specifications and system capability (Stimson 235)." Characteristics must be identified and then type of metrics is selected. Chart results of data collection and methods, which must be based on procedures and techniques (Stimson 239). Registration and Cost To become registered a business must prove that it has good management qualities and organizational skills. Businesses usually book for a registrar six months ahead and the audit can take up to twenty four months depending on the size of the business (Henkoff 2). A smaller business will take longer because their are fewer people to help during the registration and audit (Metcalfe 1). However, educating and training employees would take less time due to the small number of employees to educate (Barrier 5). A good quality management will make the certification process easier. The business must follow the ISO 9000 steps and document everything. They will be then audited by an outside business person. The company must prove that it can handle its own inspections, updating engineering drawings, maintaining the machinery and equipment, training workers and dealing with customer complaints (Henkoff 3). They don't have to prove that production is faster and customers are satisfied. The audit is mainly based on the documentation (Barrier 4) of the data taken and quizzing managers and factory workers (Henkoff 3). The auditor will then verify if the company is up to what it promises to do and is moving towards its goals. they then issue a certificate if the company passes (USAToday 1). The auditor will return every six months to make sure everything is still up to its standards and if not the company will lose its ISO 9000 certificate (Metcalfe 1). It is best if a company performs internal audits to assure that everything is up to regulation. The Certificate must also be renewed annually (Barrier 6) after an audit goes fine. An ISO certification requires business owners to make large capital investments (Metcalfe 3) and has cost up to $200,000 (Henkoff 2). The cost of certification has run into a problem with small businesses and has put up a barrier between them and a competitive edge. However, small business are now able to negotiate prices now that ISO 9000 is more popular (Barrier 2). And even more good news, the IRS is allowing companies to deduct the cost of ISO 9000 certification (Bloomberg 1). States are also awarding grants to manufacturing companies to help pay for certification. $400,000 was given to six Long Island manufacturers by the state's economic development agency, for example (Martorana 1). So, cost will probably go down in the future once ISO 9000 gets more popular and whatever it does cost it will be tax deductible. This will give more businesses to get the chance to become ISO 9000 certified and form a more competitive business arena. A Competitive Weapon Customer's have such a broad list of choices that today the competitive field almost forces a company to be ISO 9000 certified. The certification helps business's compete, plan, audit and award (Henkoff 2) which means companies who don't have it should get it. It is only implying that with out it their operating system is incoherent by the workers and their quality system is poor. Foreign consumers now demand ISO 9000 because they will know what they are going to get when purchasing with that company (Metcalfe 2). ISO 9000 certification is very important to the manufacturer because it saves money by reducing need for outside quality audits and incoming products inspections (Barrier 1). Being ISO 9000 certified is very important to the customer, because he/she knows that the business has quality management procedures and knows what quality is in the product because it has the same standard through out the world. This opens new global doors to companies which they would never get without ISO 9000. Now, ISO 9000 is more recognized than when it first came out, but only by some customers and only some companies have it. Two thirds of executives at midsize manufacturing don't know what ISO 9000 is, they think it is a legal requirement for doing business (Henkoff 2). The business's who do have it usually get chosen by the customers. During the year 2000 it will be impossible to compete with out it because it will be a very recognized and a very popular quality system (Metcalfe 2). ISO 9000: Real Business Stories ISO has produced and developed standard systems for screw threads to credit and telephone cards to the "this way up" sign on boxes to the ISBN number in every book (iso online). Thousands of companies all over the world are ISO 9000 certified. Here are some real life businesses that are certified and stories on how they have used ISO 9000 as a competitive weapon. Caterpillar Engines in Mosville, Illinois had customer complaints about their engines not performing properly. ISO 9000 gave the manufacturers a systematic way to order a design change, make sure they used only the latest documents and made engines more efficiently. Their production time went down and their customer satisfaction went up (Henkoff 3). The Rockwell International's Allen-Bradley plant in Twinsburg, Ohio make circuit boards and other electronics. Their problem was that they were extremely unorganized. Tons of documentation and memos were posted up on a memo board, most workers didn't get them until months later. Their management quality was poor, so they got ISO 9000 certified. After getting certified within one year their productivity improved 21%, time dropped 18% and product defects went down 32% (Henkoff 4). Excalibur USA became ISO 9000 certified and more than $10 million was saved in operating expenses in a year. They gained 30% more business. Production increased, costs went down and customer satisfaction went up (Metcalfe 2). ESPITI, a European software industry wanted to become more competitive so they got ISO 9000 certified. Being certified was essential to them because they knew it ensured quality and productivity and it is very good for software producers (Europe 1). Uganda textile companies in Africa were getting hit by the worst cheap imports of fabric and their sales were bad. Once ISO 9000 certified they had new standards and fabric imported to them was good. It will lower production cost and improve sales. Uganda is so satisfied with the improvement that fifty more companies will have certification by the end of the year (Africa 1). In Batam, Indonesia twelve companies were ISO 9000 certified. The companies were chosen because they wanted to have a competitive edge in a huge global market demand and wanted to attain a good quality working system (Asia Pulse 1). Cloister Spring Water Company in Lancaster, PA expanded by opening up three new plants. However, they were afraid that water would be bottled and delivered differently at each plant. ISO 9000 certification solved that problem and in three years sales soared 250% more than they expected (USAToday 1). ISO 9000 is a competitive weapon all over the world and is becoming more and more popular. In the October 1998 issue of "Quality Progress", a survey of 1240 US companies showed that of the certified companies (iso online): 90% - thought it is a value-added quality system 87% - thought that it was necessary to remain competitive 78% - thought that it definitely improved quality within a company 73% - thought it will save money in the long run 99% - said that it cannot be implemented without management commitment. Over 20,000 companies in the US are certified today. This shows that businesses believe in a strong quality system, management quality, improvement, profit and competitiveness. All these business essential make up ISO 9000.
Stimson, William A. Beyond ISO 9000: How to Sustain Quality in a Dynamic World. New York: Amacom, 1998.
Barrier, Micheal, Amy Zuckerman. "Quality Standards the World Agrees on: Small Businesses Can Meet ISO 9000 Standard." Nation's Business 01 May 1994: 71-73.
Martorana, Jamie. "Newsbreak: 6 LI Manufacturers Granted Funds." Newsday 29 November 1999: 1.
Raman, Prasanna. "An Insight into ISO 9000 for Small Businesses." New Straits Times 24 February 1998.
Metcalfe, Coll. "Ventura County Business; The Business Beat: Firms Find ISO 9000 Certification Means Business." Los Angeles Times 02 March 1999: B1.
Henkoff, Ronald. "Managing: The Hot New Seal of Quality." Fortune 28 June 1993: 116. "Surveyor Indonesia to Grant 12 ISO 9000/14000 Certificates." Asia Pulse 03 February 1998. "ISO 9000 Helps Firms Achieve Consistency." USA Today 27 May 1998: 02B.
"Software Industry: ISO 9000 Key to Improving Europe's Software Performance." European Report 01 May 1996.
"ISO Raises Manufacturers' Hopes." Africa News Service 05 January 2000. "IRS Lets Manufacturers Deduct Quality Certification Expenses." Bloomberg L.P. 06 January 2000.
"ISO 9000." Computer Desktop Encyclopedia 01 January 1998. International Organization for Standardization Homepage. 27 February 2000.