Thanks for your comments everyone! I absolutely agree that common sense and proper application is the key to ISO success. To me, the ISO program is a basic recipe to follow when trying to improve and document your processes. If you document how to do the process incorrectly or resort to pencil whipping, failure is inevitable. The key to avoiding insanity ("Doing the same thing over and over, but expecting a different result") lies in trying to continuously improve the process with the correct tool.
The tool has to match the task. When you merge the right recipe, the right tool, and common sense you can begin to add value to the ISO journey and move away from the misguided "banner on the wall" philosophy that some companies apply to ISO.
Thanks for your comment! Sorry for the delayed response. While I can't speak for every industry, my experience has been that acceptance/certification percentages revolve around management support and company buy-in as a whole. That of course goes with any program you try. Certain industries may value certification more than others but you have to have buy-in/support from upper management or you risk falling into the "out on an island" or "doing it just to do it" category. If you want ISO just for the certificate or banner and don't apply common sense while implementing it, no value is added to the company.
I agree with the common sense thing. As I see it, ISO 9000 and the derivatives attempt to codify common sense. Unfortunately, people seem to either have common sense, or not. When they don't, all of the programs in the world won't help.
This article is written from the perspective of someone who has obviously never actually stepped out of the office and into the workshop to see what ISO 9000 really is. It's not about quality, or about sensible management. It's al about fiddling the paperwork. I could fill pages with stories of backdated checklists, duplicated forms, inventories which are documented but never actually checked, ISO files carefully prepared but never opened or read except for inspections - and the point is - nobody cares. Management cares about getting the ISO approval, inspectors check documents but never compare them with reality, and employees are encouraged to toe the ISO line, never mind the ugly truth. ISO is mostly about creating more management jobs.
In one lab where I worked I hung a big sign over my desk with a quote from HP's CEO -
The transition into the 2008 version of the ISO 9001 standard has a big emphasis on the processes being used instead of the previous mentality focused on forms and calibrations. Calibrations are important, but if you use the tools incorrectly, they are useless.
I totally agree with the phrase 'when properly applied'. Some companies just look at the ISO certification as just another project to check off the list, while other more leading companies look at it as a continuous improvement process to achieve world class quality in their products and services.
I think this is an extremely silly and wrong-headed attitude -- but it has its orgin in poorly-executed quality efforts, undertaken by people who don't really understand quality.
When properly applied, ISO 9001 principles can create huge benefits for any organization. They are (or should be) common sense.
The key phrase is "when properly applied." Unfortunately, I've seen multiple companies that are ISO registered in spite of having abysmal quality systems. Unfortunately, some companies see the ISO certificate itself as the end goal... and some registrars and auditors are only too happy to oblige them, as long as their checks clear.
James, What is your experience with companies implementing ISO 9001:2008 in terms of its acceptance / percentage of companies certifying using that standard? Also, I know that some industries have embraced the importance of certifications more than others (metal working companies for example). Is that also a factor in the ISO journey? Thanks.
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