ISO 9001 is a set of internationally recognized standards that provides a uniform way of measuring a company’s internal quality systems. ISO was first introduced in 1987, and is administered by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.
The latest version of ISO9001:2015 is replacing the prior version from 2008, as a new standard is introduced about every seven years. When first introduced in 1987, the standards focused on documentation, saying what you do, and how you do it. Defining job descriptions, work instructions, and quality checks and balances was a big part of the initial introduction of ISO standards.
The updated version that came next in 1994 enhanced upon “say what you do”, and added “say what you do, and do what you say” (and prove it). Further documentation was required to show that you are actually doing what you say you are doing. Internal audits are emphasized with honest findings, and corrective actions.
The ISO updates in 2000 turned focus to “continual improvement” and “customer satisfaction”. Continual improvement projects must be identified, and customer satisfaction must be measured. The ISO9001:2008 version went into greater depth of all prior versions, emphasizing processes, process owners, measurable goals and how they impact continual improvement and total customer satisfaction.
With the most recent updates of ISO9001:2015, there is even greater emphasis on business management and leadership, and top-down management involvement. Each employee should be aware of the organization’s mission statement, quality policy, and what their role is in achieving these goals. Top management should be involved with communicating the quality management system, and the importance of each employee’s role to the organization.
ISO9001:2015 puts more emphasis on risk based thinking, and having contingency plans in place. The bottom line is that businesses that adhere to an ISO compliant quality system are poised for the future, with quality systems in place that focus on total customer satisfaction.
Total customer satisfaction reaps many benefits in customer retention, increased volume of business, and new business referrals. The efficiencies recognized when implementing ISO leads to cost-efficient improvements, thus saving time and money.
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