Are Flow Charts REQUIRED by ISO 9001:2000?


Fully vaccinated are you?
Original Post by: Alf Gulford
Posted ON 11 December 2000 05:18 PM
POSTED IN: Document and Data Flow Chart Help Needed
While we're on the subject of flowcharts---

The new Quality magazine just came in with an article on flowcharting in which they're saying that ISO9001:2000 requires that business processes be flowcharted. I can understand it being desireable, but required?

I'm still working off the DIS version and don't see the word 'flowchart' anywhere. What's the deal here? Are they actually saying that in their opinion flowcharts are the only reasonable way to go, or are they saying that I've got to go back through a ton of procedures and flowchart them? That's a problem in a company culture that gets cross-eyed when a flowchart has more that six elements in it.

I appreciate any information that might help me understand the actual requirements.



Any comments, folks?

David Mullins

It doesn't say flowcharts, and I'm very ambivalent about flow charts, however ....

The standard says:
(4.1.a) ID the processes.
(4.1.b) determine the sequence and interaction of these processes.

My personal plan for the 9K2K version Quality Manual is to include 3 things:

- the Q Policy
- the list of system level procedures
- a flowchart of work, from opportunity of work through to delivery/servicing/feedback, AND highlight where the system level procedures apply in the grand scheme of all of this. TOO EASY!

I do also use flow charts for mapping out the processes of organisations so that I can then break them down in to meaningful chunks and converting the chunks to procedures. It provides a logical sequence.


Alf Gulford

Morning, Marc-
The article is on page 34, 'Give Your Process the Right Flow' (December issue).

The particular quote is, "The revised ISO 9001:2000 standard requires that all business processes, defined as any process important to product realization, be flow charted." This is on the first page, third paragraph.

I don't think I'm taking anything out of context or reading more into it than there is.




Fully vaccinated are you?
I hope this doesn't turn into a debacle as happened with QS-9000 interpretations...

John C

Now it’s flowcharts. Last week it was ‘6 procedures’. Well, that’s what we get when we interpret;- Everyone has their own interpretation and a lot of them have vested interest. The guy who writes in the quality mag needs to sell an article and if he has nothing to say, then he’ll say something anyway.
If the standard says flowcharts, then we have to use flowcharts. But it doesn’t say flowcharts, so we don’t have to, but we may.
We ‘have to determine the sequence and their interaction’? Well, how about calling them 1, 2 and 3 for example? 1 feeds 2 and 2 feeds 3? Or any other way you can dream up, with or without flowcharts? All we have to do is read the standard and do what it says and don’t take crap from anyone that says otherwise. It really is that simple but look how people try to make it difficult, even for themselves!

For instance, looking again at 4.1: What about the famous 6 procedures? Well 4.1 tells us to document the QMS. Then it tells us to identify the processes needed for the QMS. Then it tells us (in the note at the end) that those processes that we have identified must include those for;
• management activities - section 5
• provision of resources - section 6
• product realisation - section 7
• measurement - section 8

When we document a QMS we do it by documenting the process by means of procedures so, to meet the requirement above, we are going to need at least 4, ie; one for each of those sections. But of the 6 that the standard mentions, 2 are in section 4 and 4 are in section 8. None in 5, 6 or 7. So where does that leave us?

The conclusion has to be that the standard demands more than 6.

Now, if we look at 4.2.1 Note 2, we see that ‘the size of the QMS documentation can differ due to the size, complexity and competence....’ So, if we take it that 9 is the absolute minimum, then a large, complex organisation, staffed by incompetents (not uncommon), would have a lot more. Maybe 20? Maybe 50? 150?

From this, we can make the very dependable conclusion that such an organisation must have a lot more than six, or nine. We might not say the standard demands it, but we can say that the standard expects it.

The '6 procedures' issue is a red herring. My opinion is that it never was an issue with the TC and that they left out the words ‘Document and Implement procedures’ to give us the freedom to use our imagination in certain circumstances. I'm sure that they didn't mean us to start debating how little effort we could get away with. - To their credit, they do show awareness that we are building a documented system that is designed to meet the organisation’s needs, not just the standard’s requirements. The people who see some merit, or some problem in the apparent need for six, seem to have forgotten this aspect.

ISO 9k2k isn’t born yet and people are already rewriting it in their heads. If it turns out to be a monster, then it will be because we made it that way.
rgds, John C

[This message has been edited by John C (edited 12 December 2000).]

Roger Wahl

If anyone is unclear what article is being discussed here, it is available on-line at ("Give Your Process the Right Flow).

Is the magazine quoting directives from a spec that hasn't even met final approval? It seems to me this article could be lumped in with all the other articles & books that tell you how to implement the "new" ISO9000:2000. In a word - speculation.

The article would have held up better if it said that it is required to document business process and ONE of the better ways to do this is by flow charting.

Just curious if Quality Magazine has been certified to ISO 9000 standards.........

David Mullins

"Is the magazine quoting directives from a spec that hasn't even met final approval? "

AS/NZS ISO 9000/1/4:2000 were available for sale in Australia since last Monday, so we now know what is in it. If you have trouble deciding on an interpretation, ring your registrar/auditor and see what they think. (remember getting another registrar is easier than getting a hooker)

Question: Is a respected journalist one who is respected by the intended audience, or one who is revered by jounalistic peers for never letting the truth get in the way of a good story.

Journalistic Integrity: an oxy-moron.



Flowcharts for OPS

Has anyone flowcharted their OPS for Document control or any of the other OPS....curious to see how you got started and how large your flowcharts were....

Thanks for any previous info...and any future



Fully vaccinated are you?
Of course, as a Premium subscriber you could get examples from the ISO Implementation files (specifically a file named Flow_Charts_for_2000.ppt) There are others there as well. Then there's the almost finished Update files - examples of each of the 'six required' (and more!) are in the main powerpoint file. But - You gotta join! (Unabashed plea for Contributions... :thedeal: )

For some ideas see some 'oldies but goodies' at I think there's also some examples in if I remember correctly.

How's that for a few starters? Folks are also invited to share theirs with everyone as attachments to a post (reply) in this thread.

CAUTION! Use only for ideas! Your system will be specific to your company.
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