My biggest pet peeve regarding ISO9001:2008

As readers of this blog may know, I’m an quality system consultant, helping people establish and maintain their ISO9001:2008 quality systems. (Formerly ISO9001:2000) This is just a bit of a rant, probably my biggest pet peeve about being an ISO consultant.

Every once in a while…actually, far too often….I run across some folks who really have no interest in participating in their ISO9001 quality system. Probably every ISO consultant has come across such people. Sometimes it’s the company’s top management, which is quite troubling. Sure, the business owner THINKS he wants an ISO9001 quality system, and he knows that being ISO9001 accredited will open customer doors that were previously closed to him. But he doesn’t really WANT a well organized quality system, and has absolutely no interest in actually doing the work necessary to maintain such a system.

And then sometimes you find company employees that, while they may be competent, productive employees in other ways, they too have no interest in doing any of the actual work involved in maintaining their company’s ISO9001:2008 quality system.

What’s particularly troubling for me is when there are such disinterested employees entrenched in a company for years and years, are seen as valued and nearly irreplaceable, but are resistant to change, and the company’s top management will not take action to enforce the needed change.

When I’m feeling particularly frustrated with the lack of cooperation at a company, I’ve told company owners that I think they’re wasting their money by hiring me. I can’t be there every day and perform every task. The company’s employees must actively participate in the operation of the quality system. If they don’t, then there’s no point in throwing money away on a consultant and the annual registration and auditing costs. If the company’s people are not committed to doing what is needed, then the company doesn’t deserve to have accreditation.

So many people want to have their ISO9001:2000 certificate, but don’t want to do the work needed. Maybe they think if they can just pay a consultant, and shuffle some papers around, that they can get that prized certificate on the wall. But that’s not how I work.

Maybe I just shouldn’t care quite so much. It would be easier that way.

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3 Responses to “My biggest pet peeve regarding ISO9001:2008”

  1. Jerry Sweeten says:

    How does ISO9001:2008 differ from ISO9001:2000? We are starting the process and need to purchase the standard as a beginning. I also saw a version of ISO9001 for small businesses.

  2. Timothy says:

    ISO9001:2008 contains no new requirements, only clarifications of the ISO9001:2000 standard. If your quality system documentation is written to the ISO9001:2000 standard, and you passed your registration audit, then you do not need to make any changes to your documentation in order to meet the 2008 standard.

    There is only one ISO9001:2008 quality standard. There is not a separate standard for small businesses.

  3. Doug says:

    Is it possible that these folks are indifferent because they don’t see the connection between the QMS and the firm’s bottom line? If there is one metric not hammered on enough in the QMS industry, it’s the “this is why you do it” metric: instituting a QMS, on average, increases profit X percent.
    The irony, of course, is that the industry compels the firms to keep various metrics, yet the industry can’t produce the only one that matters.

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