Dez, our AQSR rep, just left giving us the thumbs up on our 2007 ISO compliance audit (click here for our certificate)… whooee! Some interesting discussions around the whole QMS thing… I didn’t know there was a SOCIAL ACCOUNTABILITY protocol… and there’s discussion about a HEALTH & SAFETY standard too… of course these appear to be more for ensuring people are safe and well cared for in developing countries more so then here in North America – because anyone involved in employee standards or health and safety know first hand the standards our respective countries put in place.
There also seems to be a waning with respects to the ISO standard. It appears banks and insurance companies are the prime consumers of this product and manufacturing isn’t as concerned with it as much unless you’re involved in automotive or aerospace where more stringent standards are required – why have both, right?
I do believe that the ISO movement was important back in the early 90’s in as much as it created a demand for having a management plan in place, especially within the small to mid-size industrial businesses which have now emerged into the mid-to-large size businesses.
I believe there was a generation gap between old school and new school owner/managers and by implementing an ISO model inside the business forced the two to come to the table, evaluate each others belief systems, and then invent a hybrid which leveraged the tried and true with the new and experimental.
I also believe that those businesses who put their faith in the ISO model probably didn’t even realize how instrumental it was in their growth and prosperity in that it reduced the “down time” usually associated with the process. And, where some markets or segments began to slow down, a system was in place to re-evaluate one’s value proposition and reinvent oneself to exploit emerging opportunities.
North American businesses are better off for having made the investment to achieve the ISO standard but i fear that the bureaucracy of evolving the standard as an institution can’t keep up to the pace that growing businesses are moving at.
Regardless, the 9001:2000 standard, which is expected to be revised by 2010, should be considered as a valuable tool, like an MRI, to look at the skeletal structure of the business and identify tumors or other lesions that have the potential for ruining a good thing. Business graduates now have a frame of reference with respects to how a QMS should be put to work, so put them to work analyzing and making recommendations to seasoned management veterans who have the juice to get things done.
The term QMS is a misnomer, too. It’s not JUST about quality. People can easily dismiss the whole program because they don’t associate their role with quality. It really should be termed as a CSS – a Customer Satisfaction Standard. Because, ultimately, isn’t it the customer that signs our pay cheque?