Perceptions of ISO 9000 and its derivatives 87
on quality. Auditors often held the view that if an organization took the trouble to doc-
ument it, it must be essential to product quality and therefore by not doing it, product
quality must be affected!
It is to be hoped that ISO/TS 16949 qualified auditors are a cut
above the rest, i.e. they certainly have to jump through more
hoops but they often operate within an organization that pro-
vides ISO 9000 and ISO/TS 16949 certification services.
Unless the management is separate, there is a risk that lax prac-
tices will pervade ISO/TS 16949 assessments until detected by the IATF witness audits.
How ISO 9000 made us think about quality
ISO 9000 was conceived to bring about an improvement in product quality. It was
believed that if organizations were able to demonstrate that they were operating a qual-
ity system that met international standards, customers would gain greater confidence
in the quality of products they purchased. It was also believed that by operating in
accordance with documented procedures, errors would be reduced and consistency of
output ensured. If you find the best way of achieving a result, put in place measures to
prevent variation, document it and train others to apply it; it follows that the results
produced should be consistently good.
The requirements of the standard were perceived to be a list of things to do to achieve
quality. The ISO co-ordinator would often draw up a plan based on the following logic:
We have to identify resource requirements so I will write a procedure on identify-
ing resource requirements.
We have to produce quality plans so I will write a procedure on producing quality plans.
We have to record contract reviews so I will write a procedure on recording con-
tract reviews.
We have to identify design changes so I will write a procedure on identifying design
The requirements in the standard were often not expressed as results to be achieved.
Requirements for a documented procedure to be established resulted in just that.
Invariably the objectives of the procedure were to define something rather than to
achieve something. This led to documentation without any clear purpose that related
to the achievement of quality. Those producing the documentation were focusing on
meeting the standard but not on achieving quality. Those producing the product were
focusing on meeting the customer requirement but the two were often out of sync. As
quality assurance became synonymous with procedures, so people perceived that they
could achieve quality by following procedures. The dominance of procedures to the
Is our goal to survive
the audit or to improve
our performance?
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