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Departments: First Word

Photo: Scott Paton, publisher

  
   

Tick Tock…
Time to transition to ISO 9001:2000 is running out.

 

Scott Paton
spaton@qualitydigest.com



The ISO clock is ticking. Those companies registered to one of the 1994 versions of the ISO 9000 standard have until Dec. 14 of this year to make the transition to ISO 9001:2000; otherwise they'll lose their registrations.

According to the Quality Digest ISO 9000 Registered Company Database (available at www.qualitydigest.com) as of mid-January 2003, only 12 percent of the registered companies in North America had made the transition to the new standard. Therefore, nearly 50,000 sites in North America have yet to be registered to ISO 9001:2000.

Given that there are only about 70 accredited registrars and that 10 registrars control the majority of registrations, it's very likely that a huge number of companies will lose their registrations come December. It's also very likely that those companies will not only lose business to competitors who did maintain their registration, but they'll also face increased costs to re-register to the standard later on: It costs more for an initial registration than it does for a surveillance/transition audit.

How could this have happened? Countless articles, books and seminars have been produced concerning the new standard. Companies were advised three years in advance of the transition requirements. And registrars have dutifully reminded their customers of the need to transition.

There are several culprits:

Procrastination. It's the same habit that keeps students up all night before a big paper is due (and this editor working late the night before this column is due). Registered companies have simply procrastinated about making the transition.

Six Sigma. The latest management fad has so captivated corporate America that there's little time to devote to lowly standards compliance. For example, the American Society for Quality aggressively pushed Six Sigma to its members during the last three years but did little to help them with their ISO 9000 transition. Think I'm exaggerating? ASQ launched a Six Sigma magazine, promoted Six Sigma training, started the Six Sigma Forum and launched a Six Sigma conference. I'm curious what percentage of its membership works for registered companies vs. companies with Six Sigma programs.

ANSI-RAB. The U.S. accreditation body has kept a pretty low profile. It should have done more to promote the value of registration, to educate the public about ISO 9000 and to emphasize to registered companies the need to make the transition. As a member of the media, I've seen very little from ANSI-RAB concerning the transition. An aggressive ad campaign and public relations effort would have helped.

Of course, it's possible that some registrars may issue ISO 9001:2000 certificates to their customers who have shown significant progress toward the transition. Although this isn't allowed by the accreditation bodies, at least one registrar is telling its auditors that it's OK to recommend registration to ISO 9001:2000 if this is the case. Read more about that next month.

What do you think is going to happen? Will there be a dramatic drop-off in ISO 9000-registered companies? Will the registrars be able to handle the demand? Will the accreditation bodies grant an extension? E-mail your thoughts to spaton@qualitydigest.com.