Let us be clear. ISO 9001 has nothing to do with quality. Nothing. ISO 9001 is titled “Quality Management Systems - Requirements”. So - How can I say it has absolutely nothing to do with quality?
The name is essentially derived from documents which ISO 9001 evolved from. But look at what ISO 9001 requires:
Consistency of Product by Business as a Process
The ‘life preserver’ example is often cited with respect to quality. You can make concrete life preservers if that’s what the design calls for and be registered to ISO 9001. What comes into play here is the definition of quality. Our paradigm tells us a concrete life preserver would be of no use for saving lives. One must admit, however, that the design intent may be for a decorative life preserver and as such floatation and flexibility are not issues.
Why Do It?
I’ll bet either a customer requirement or your sales / marketing folks dreamed this up for you to do, right? Almost all implementations are the result of one or the other. I have never had a client which simply decided to do it because they felt doing so would be beneficial to the company. This is not to say improvement is not an issue. It almost always very much is. But that has never been the spark that initiated the process.
Many of you know I’m not a proponent of registration per se. For some companies it is a good thing. They lack the internal discipline necessary to ensure people are doing what they are supposed to be doing.
I am a gung ho proponent of the implementation process. In the very least, it necessitates a serious housekeeping effort. The process typically opens everyone’s eyes to what they are doing and why. Often I refer to the early stages of implementation as the Discovery Phase. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard “I didn’t know we were doing that!” Sometimes it’s scary thinking how far in the dark some people are in so far as knowing and understanding what they’re supposed to be doing goes. Which is pretty far. I have never seen an implementation which did not benefit the company in some way.