Can (and should) you do ISO 9001 in a single department/area?


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Please clarify:

Do you disagree that (1) the ISO Central Secretariat is a department of ISO, AND (2) it is the only department of ISO certified to ISO 9001?

The ISO Central Secretariat is an organizational entity by itself.

The ISO Central Secretariat, which employs some 150 people from 20 countries, supplies a full range of services to its members, 160 countries, and standards developers (several thousand in some 200 committees around the world). These services include coordination of the standards development programme, administration of voting on draft standards, the final editing and publication of standards, and information, communication and public relations.

And should not be viewed as a "department."



Groan. :frust:

I do wish I'd titled the thread more accurately. :bonk:

Along the lines of 'single entity inside of larger one' but that would surely be a big mouthful of words.

Definitely wish the word 'department' hadn't been left in the title, as it clearly keeps alive great distraction.


:bigwave: @ JaneB


So what do you think about saying "Quality" is the code for "free of failures"?


Re: ISO 9001:2008 for Marketing and Sales Department Only.

Wow, this topic stimulated some interesting and strong responses!

My original statement, which I stand by, was that I did not agree that there could never be

I spent some time thinking this over in the light of the many and strong responses (in between dog walking and house cleaning and a whole lot of other stuff) - yes, I do agree that the question asked by the poster in the thread this one came out of keeping it to Sales & Marketing only sounded a bit odd on the face of it.

But I also wonder if we're being distracted & just thinking about that department only, or hearing/envisaging different things re. 'single department'. I asked to break the topic out to ensure we don't muddy ONE specific poster's situation(Sales & Marketing Department) with the broader question. Suggest we do need to widen thinking to include 'area', 'business unit' etc.

And no, I don't accept that it can 'never' work and should 'never' be done and has zero value. It has - and often very successfully - in my experience.

Here's some examples (most large, multi-site or multinational organisations).

  • a specific program (team of 150 people overseeing multiple projects occurring across the organisation) responsible for delivering a particular large program over a defined 4 year period - all customers of the program were internal; one of the various benefits was that many, many people learned about 9001, how it could work and took that knowledge and experience back into their own departments when they moved on
  • a department responsible for internal security & risk management - all customers internal; approx 20 people in team
  • a single & relatively small department responsible for providing specialised software services - all customers internal
  • a business unit whose raison d'etre was to provide certain specialised training & management services to all other areas of the institution - internal customers only
  • a company who restricted scope to a single product line only for very good reasons
  • a company who restricted their scope to 1 specific large contract with a single large customer - left other areas of the company outside the scope to begin with, got the cert, & then progressively took it 'up a level' and widened it to other sites and areas of the business
  • a business unit responsible for providing specific 'back office' management services for the insitution - all customers internal
  • med sized company who restricted it to their head office site only, initially, and then extended it to cover other sites in different states later

The certifiers in question were all reputable, well known & respected. Not in my experience and opinion either crappy certifiers, or acting unprofessionally. Indeed, in each case, each certifier took care to consider it and explore all the parameters to ensure they could reasonably do it ethically and professionally.

?? Why? I see no problem in starting in a defined area (please, please, let's not keep thinking we are ONLY talking about certifying a Sales & Marketing Department!!!) as a pilot, achieving the cert as well as learning, and then later widening the scope. Been there, done it, and it has worked.
Sometimes it's quite an interesting challenge (eg, how to cover competency when the HR department of the large institution manages same & isn't part of the scope) and the organisation has to understand they can't just 'stop at the department/project/area' and say 'go no further' as it doesn't work like that.

My view is: explain all to the institution, educate them as far as possible and then, help them achieve their stated goals (always of course provided it is valuable, professionally reasonable and ethical to do so).

ISO 9001 2008 says that its requirements are (my bold added)

And ISO 9000:2006 defines an organization as a (bold added):

and says under 'customer'

I do agree with a number of the points various people have made about the risks in taking a 'departmental approach' and that doing the 'whole organization' is generally much better and that management may not realize what they are doing when they try to use departmental thinking etc.

But I query this:

Really? Where in ISO 9000 is that said? This doesn't for me match with customers being internal or external. Is there some guidance document I don't know about or have missed, Sidney? If there is, I'd like to know so I can read it & think about it.

Great.. I have the same problem.. I am planning to implement ISO:9001:2008 in my organization division by division because of the limited resources we have to implement it to the whole organization.. but my intention is to have the whole organization being certified.. I might change the plan to implement ISO:9001:2008 in the whole organization before I approach a certifying body.. That would be cost effective, and the benefits will be more valuable than to approach certification division by division.. Thank you very much.. :agree:
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