consistent quality from their suppliers. Taking the place of purchaser-specified general
quality management requirements, ISO 9000 became the common requirement and
hence eliminated the need for such requirements. As a consequence, it provides suppli-
ers that meet its requirements with a demonstrable capability that others may not possess
and hence, such capability becomes a persuasive marketing tool that will increase market
share. ISO 9000 was also intended for application to all types of industry and there-
fore did not contain requirements for any specific industry sector, or type of products
or services. Partially due to the scope of misinterpretation and the degree to which par-
ticular industries have common supplier requirements, certain industry sectors perceived
the need for harmonizing such requirements in a form that added to those requirements
in ISO 9000.
The drive for these additional requirements has come not from the suppliers but from
users, such as the automotive, utilities, telecommunications, software and aerospace
industries, that purchase millions of products and services used to produce the goods
and services they provide to the consumer. Rather than invoke customer-specific con-
ditions in each contract, the larger purchasers perceive real benefits from agreeing
common quality management system requirements for their industry sector. Quite
often a supplier will be supplying more than one customer in a particular sector and
hence, costs increase for both the supplier and the customer if the supplier has to meet
different requirements that serve the same objective. All customers desire products and
services that consistently meet their requirements. While the physical and functional
requirements for the product or service will differ, the requirements governing the man-
ner in which their quality is to be achieved, controlled and assured need not differ.
Differences in quality-system requirements may arise between industry sectors where
the technology, complexity and risks are different.
There are those who see the emergence of sector standards as a retrograde step, hav-
ing reached the stage where we have condensed all the world’s national quality
management system standards into a family of five standards. It may seem to be a ret-
rograde step if these standards were regarded as the crème de la crème of standards.
Unfortunately, ISO 9000 remains a ‘minimum’ and hence does not and was not
intended to meet the needs of all the users. The alternative to suppressing sector stan-
dards at the international level, is to see them emerge at the national level or continue
with the practice of purchasers invoking their own quality-system requirements within
contracts, perpetuating fragmentation, duplication and driving up costs.
However, until ISO 9000 emerged in 1987, the automotive industry used a variety of
customer-specific standards to govern a supplier’s quality management practices.
The British contribution
Prior to the publication of ISO 9000, several nations had developed national quality-
system standards, with many used only in the procurement of military equipment.
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