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5.5.2 - management representative, definitions, iso 9001 - quality management systems, interpretations
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Old 15th July 2002, 07:25 PM
Jimmy Olson

Posts: 331
Let Me Help You Shall vs. Should - Definitions - Interpretation of "shall" and "should"

Hello everyone. What is the general interpertation of "shall" and "should" in standard? Is "should" as loose as it sounds? My understanding is that "shall" means must be and that "should" is just a recommendation and doesn't really need to be done. I'm sure it probably is this simple, but when it comes to standards you can never be certain.

Last edited by Jimmy Olson; 10th February 2004 at 11:23 PM.

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Old 16th July 2002, 03:46 AM
M Greenaway's Avatar
M Greenaway

Posts: 1,652

I would agree with your interpretation with respect to ISO9001. QS9000 however slightly tightens the noose by saying that 'shalls' must be done, and 'shoulds' must be done or a suitable alternative approach.
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Old 16th July 2002, 10:16 AM
Howard Atkins's Avatar
Howard Atkins

Posts: 2,913
But QS is dead.

TS/ISO 16949 has the following comment
The word “should” indicates a recommendation. Paragraphs marked “NOTE” are for guidance in understanding or clarifying the associated requirement.
The only should not in a note is
Quote: Engineering specifications
The organization shall have a process to assure the timely review, distribution and implementation of all customer
engineering standards/specifications and changes based on customer-required schedule. Timely review should be
as soon as possible, and shall not exceed two working weeks.
Old 16th July 2002, 10:30 AM
M Greenaway's Avatar
M Greenaway

Posts: 1,652
Dead but not quite buried yet, 4 years and counting !
Old 16th July 2002, 10:56 AM
db's Avatar

Posts: 2,574
Typically, a "shall" means 'this you will do, and you will do it this way'. A "should" means 'this you will do, and you decide how to do it'. It is often called a "shall with flexibility".
Old 16th July 2002, 12:02 PM
Mike S.

Posts: 1,869
Well, IMHO, if ISO-9000, 9001, or 9004 does not specifically give the official ISO definition of a certain term they use (such as “should”) the most reasonable thing to do is use the normal, everyday (dictionary?) definition based on the context of the sentence. To me “should” does not mean you have to do something, or 'this you will do, and you decide how to do it' or something “must be done or a suitable alternative approach”. Where do those definitions come from? There must be a reason they use “should” instead of “shall”. To me, should means “ought to, but don’t have to”, i.e. “You should get your Mother a gift on Mother’s Day” or “you should check your tire pressure every week”. Or, as Howard said, recommendation is a good synonym.

As I said, JMHO.
Old 16th July 2002, 01:23 PM
Mike S.

Posts: 1,869

Maybe I'm just being unreasonable, but it seems stupid to me that they (ISO) can't include all applicable "special" definitions in one of the 3 documents (ISO-9000, 9001, and 9004). Those 3 documents are commonly sold as a package and I assumed, wrongly it would seem, that especially ISO-9000 "fundamentals and vocabulary" would include all of the necessary definitions. How many people even know that "ISO 9000 Introduction and Support Package: Guidance on the Terminology used in ISO 9001:2000 and ISO 9004:2000" exists? I didn't, but maybe I'm a dummy. How many "extra" publications does one need to understand these "standards"? Am I the only one who thinks this is nuts?

Well, at least I can agree witht he second definition they give.
Old 16th July 2002, 01:52 PM
Mike S.

Posts: 1,869

Where would one get a copy of "ISO 9000 Introduction and Support Package: Guidance on the Terminology used in ISO 9001:2000 and ISO 9004:2000" ? Is it available free on the web or is it another money-maker for ISO?

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