All the News That’s Printed to Fit
Why is there so much reporting
about ISO 9001 registration that doesn’t really matter?
“ISO certificates aren’t being renewed fast
enough to meet the Dec. 15, 2003, deadline.” Who cares?
Counting the number of certificates isn’t a reliable,
much less informative, measurement. Very little media attention
is paid to more relevant nuances of the issue, such as whether
companies are consolidating their certificates, putting
off the update under the certification rules for other system
standards such as AS9100, TL 9000 and ISO/TS 16949, or simply
ignoring their management systems altogether.
Quality professionals would be better served if quality
organizations and journals helped them understand, appreciate
and achieve the benefits of process-based management systems
that also happen to conform to ISO 9001 and/or the many
derivative system standards.
Yes, quality experts must become system professionals
so that their employers can confidently assure the public
that requirements will be met even as they reduce the delivery
costs of products that “wow” customers. But
what help does the quality profession receive from its societies
and publications? ISO 9000 is included in indexes among
the generic list of standards instead of a more specific
International systems standards are meant to help us unify
controls up and down global supply chains so they’re
easier to manage. Since 1987, organizations have been advised
through ISO 9001 to focus on the processes and related functions
that interact within their management systems. But instead,
the quality media portray ISO 9000 registration as “just
another hoop to jump through.”
The resulting mindset engenders thinking that leads even
well-meaning professionals and organizations to call their
bulky collections of documents “ISO systems.”
Ask their executives if they expect their businesses to
operate using their system as it’s documented and
they’ll respond: “Of course not. The only reason
we have that documentation is for ISO registration.”
Meanwhile, the management systems actually running these
organizations remain neglected and poorly understood.
Business leaders benefit from successful management system
development projects. They and their teams understand how
quality management system processes interact and add value.
They use and improve their process-based management systems
in order to remain competitive. But what are the benefits,
exactly? How are process-based management systems developed,
used and improved? How are the returns on investment measured
in real time?
Finding answers to these questions in journals claiming
to serve evolving quality professionals is nearly impossible.
Instead of process-based management systems, we read about
shortcuts to registration and problems associated with conformity
assessment. Instead of clarifying issues involved with process-based
management systems, articles endorse ready-made documents
and lament the problems of conformity assessment under the
ISO 9000 banner. Naturally, this leads to yet more misunderstanding
Organizations can be transformed and sustained using the
information from their process-based management systems.
How is this achieved? Quality management systems include
processes to gather and analyze system data. Which processes?
Where do these data come from? How are they analyzed? How
can they be persuasively presented to influence decision-making?
Such information would lead to timely decisions that could
prevent loss while enabling organizations to add value more
Instead of filling the pages of quality journals with
easy reporting about ISO 9000 registration, we should contribute
our insights on developing, using and improving process-based
management systems. How about focusing on the paramount
importance of business management systems?
Management systems help customer-driven processes convert
customer needs into cash more quickly than our competitors.
We need articles that address systems thinking, efficiency
measurements, and data-driven continual improvement of systems
and their processes. How do we use these systems to become
more effective and efficient, and to deliver products that
enhance customer loyalty? What are the connections among
a system, its processes and its products? Helpful articles
toward this end would include:
System conformity to ISO 9001 before investing in Six Sigma
Legal implications of ignoring a national systems standard
Removing root causes underlying nonconforming processes
Changing “blame culture” thinking
Data sources for removing root causes of potentially adverse
Improving national productivity for better quality of life
Improving the rate at which a core process adds value to
Improving customer loyalty beyond customer satisfaction
Developing sustainability beyond simply limiting adverse
We deserve better from our quality journals and media.
Let’s have the news that matters to system professionals.
John R. Broomfield heads the consulting firm Quality
Management International Inc. He maintains www.aworldofquality.com
to guide developers of process-based management systems.