ISO 9000:2001 represents an obsolete version of the standards published by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). The current version (as of 2010), ISO 9001:2008, describes a quality management methodology that aims at achieving customer satisfaction.
“Document the proven process and follow accurately the written instructions” symbolizes the spirit of the standards. Besides ensuring employees’ compliance to the organization’s processes, the standards call for monitoring closely the outcomes of each critical step and trigger immediate corrective action upon detecting a deviation. The approach applies to all levels of the organization, including the top leadership team.
About 900,000 companies have adopted ISO 9000 and its various updates since 2000, writes David Levine, professor with the University of California at Berkeley. The popularity came from the resulting financial gains. Levine’s observations from 1,000 ISO 9000-certified organizations show average sales increases of 9 percent over 11 years directly attributable to obtaining this ISO certification.
To receive an ISO 9000 certificate, a company typically contacts an accreditation firm located in the same country as the facilities seeking the award. Inspectors, sent on site, audit how well employees document their process and adhere to the instructions. The auditors’ report lists deviations. With no major gaps from the standards, the accreditation firm grants an ISO 9000 certificate valid for three years.