ISO 9001 Certification and Corporate Performance



ISO 9000 certification and corporate performance

I'm back after an absence and I'd like to pick up where I left off on the subject of ISO 9000 certification and its benefit. Firstly, every study I've seen, including the Anderson School study, which purports to show benefit from CERTIFICATION is flawed. All these studies fail to disentangle implementation from certification and attribute any benefits resulting from implementing the system to the certification of the system. Certification is a verification of conformity to the ISO 9001:2000 requirements, nothing more. As such, by itself it probably adds little, if any, value to the process other than market recognition and satisfying customers that a QMS is in place. The direct internal performance benefit that accrues to the implementing organization from the certification process itself is therefore probably negligible and, taken in the context of cost-benefit analysis, provides little value-add to the overall business improvement process.

Secondly, until the ISO 9000:2000 series came out, most certifications to the 1994 edition were, as Dr Eicher of ISO rightly pointed out, fundamentally flawed as they had a major non-conformity: the lack of objectives, meaning there could be no effective system. I would add to this that certifying a documented system is as good as useless if the documented processes contain waste and variability. This gives a clue why certification is fundamentally and, in my opinion, fatally flawed: the objective for many firms is to get the badge on the wall rather than pursue real and meaningful improvement, which they can do without certification anyway.

Jimmy Olson

Is there a question somewhere in there? Or just a statement to provoke a discussion/debate? :D


When reading your post my first thought is if you don’t like the idea of going through registration then don’t. Whether you are in the position of owner/CEO or an employee down the chain somewhere you have a choice to pursue a registration or not.


Paul Simpson

Trusted Information Resource
Exams add no value?

I'd like to agree with Mike and Randy. I didn't see a question and certification is not yet compulsory but I'd still like to have a go at answering lean machines point.

True, not all certificates are valid. True, not all certificates holders have great systems. That doesn't mean the certification process is fundamentally flawed. There are a lot of holes that need plugging but how about this for a couple of reasons for going for assessment (apart from the: "We need a certificate on the wall to trade, we want to market ourselves etc.).
- If you didn't have an end day of assessment would there be the focus to do the work to get the system in? I know of some companies who need that six monthly "The auditor is coming!"to get some actions through the system - it ain't perfect but it is a reason. (Think of it as a public examination - would you do all that hard work on Maths and English if you didn't need the qualification? I know some would but it does give a hard edge focus.
- The wood for the trees. I like to think I know a bit about quality having had that dreaded word in my title for getting on for three quarters of my working life but I have still had auditors come in and pick up on things I have missed and also give a different slant on an issue that has helped me.

That'll do off the cuff. Any others, any comments?

P.S. I have also been into "Lean", "6 Sigma" and "Total Quality" companies and found issues they weren't aware of or weren't dealing with effectively


No question here, other than a rhetorical one "Does certification per se provide value?".

I think a distortion has arisen in the marketplace where certification has become synomymous with quality. Certification has nothing to do with quality. It is merely an inspection and verification process. In fact, as Deming argued, you can never achieve quality with inspection. Therefore, by itself, certification adds little value to the quality process.

mike101338's response is instructive to me because it shows how the ISO 9000 process has been "hi-jacked" by certification bodies. ISO 9004:1987/94 and even the 2000 edition always presented certification as an option, never as the end-game of the exercise. I wonder how many certified companies truly practice continual improvement on their systems to eliminate waste and variation, rather than trying to keep the registrar's auditors happy?
Top Bottom