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
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 email@example.com.