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Scott Paton

The Future of Quality

The new millennium promises a new era of quality.

This month's cover story takes a first look at the impending ISO 9000:2000. The standard is currently in its second committee draft and is expected to become a Draft International Standard (DIS) within the next few months. If it does, ISO 9000:2000 should become an international standard within a year.

 As author Jack Kanholm notes in this month's cover story, the new standard is radically different from the current ISO 9000:1994 version. It's been totally revised, placing much less emphasis on production and more on the organization as a whole. In addition, ISO 9000:1994's numbering system has been completely revamped; the famous 20 elements have been rearranged into four sections. This renovation will force the more than 200,000 organizations registered worldwide to rewrite their existing quality manuals.

 The good news is that revision was done well. The whole-organization focus and the de-emphasis on manufacturing are more in line with 21st century organizations. In addition, the new ISO 9000 will work better with ISO 14001, the environmental quality standard, which continues to build momentum around the world. While ISO 9000:2000 doesn't yet offer the holistic approach to quality that the Baldrige Award criteria does, it is a significant step in the right direction.

 Regardless of your feelings about ISO 9000's changes, you won't be immune to its effects. The revision will no doubt prompt a feeding frenzy among consultants, registrars, trainers and book publishers. Expect to see a major advertising blitz once ISO 9000:2000 becomes a DIS; I've even heard rumors about consultants and registrars promising to rewrite their clients' quality manuals or to prepare them for ISO 9000:2000 registration now. Beware of such claims. Reputable consultants and registrars will wait until ISO 9000:2000 becomes a DIS before even thinking about retraining their auditors and staff, let alone selling ISO 9000:2000 services.

 It's interesting that the new millennium will dawn with a new ISO 9000. But it's not the only change to quality: The Baldrige Award criteria have finally been expanded to include education and health care, the DMIS software standard for CMMs is about to be revised, QS-9000 will soon be replaced with ISO/TS 16949, noncontact measuring technology is accelerating at warp speed, and a host of new industry-specific international standards loom on the horizon.

 We've planned a series of articles for next year that will examine quality in the 21st century (which, by the way, doesn't officially begin until Jan. 1, 2001). These articles examine the ways in which quality is changing and how these changes will affect specific industries, such as automotive, plastics and semiconductors.

 We've also planned a series of articles that will take an in-depth look at ISO 9000:2000. I'd like to know your thoughts on the future of ISO 9000 and of quality in general. Your input is invaluable when it comes time to decide what topics, industries, standards and organizations Quality Digest should cover. E-mail your comments to

 -- Scott M. Paton


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