An ISO certificate is a very good benchmark to judge a company. ISO (from the Greek word ISOS meaning “equal”) refers to the International Organization for Standardization. ISO is based in Geneva, Switzerland. It is a non-governmental organization and has issued more than sixteen thousand international standards. Among these international standards is the ISO 9000 series on quality management.
ISO 9000 is a general name given to a group of standards developed to provide a framework based on which a quality management system can be implemented. This series covers four primary standards supported by several other documents. The four primary standards are:
1. ISO 9000, Quality Management Systems – Fundamentals and vocabulary
2. ISO 9001, Quality Management Systems – Requirements
3. ISO 9004, Quality Management Systems – Guideline for performance improvements
4. ISO 19011, Guideline on quality and/or environmental management auditing
The ISO 9001: 2000 series is the latest standard for quality management and is closely linked with other quality initiatives like BPR (business processing reengineering), Kaizen, six sigma etc. While the other quality initiatives help organizations identify “what” they need to improve quality, ISO 9001: 2000 provides a strategic approach for “how” to implement those requirements. The clauses mentioned in this standard cover all aspects of a business operation (management responsibility, resource management, design and delivery, and measurement and improvement) needed to implement quality management system satisfactory to customer needs.
The ISO 9001: 2000 series is very broad by nature so it can be implemented by all organizations, regardless of being in the manufacturing or the services sector. It is also applicable to all sizes of business, and categories of products – hardware, software, processed materials or services. Certification / registration to ISO 9001: 2000 happens when an accredited third party (Registration or Certification Body) visits and assesses an organization’s management and issues a certificate to show that the organization meets the standards of ISO 9001: 2000. The cost of certification depends on the size of the organization and the certification body with whom they choose to work.
Entrepreneurs are generally keen to get their company ISO certified. But they are likely to face certain problems while implementing ISO 9001: 2000 Quality Management Systems. Certain common hurdles that entrepreneurs should guard themselves against are:
1. Lack of top management commitment
2. Lack of awareness among staff
3. Inappropriate documentation
4. Lack of training in ISO 9001: 2000, documentation, internal audit and use of statistical techniques
5. Inadequate consultancy service to advice on implementation
6. High cost of certification
7. Resistance to change
8. Lack of proper planning