Well, technically they aren't quite the same thing. ISO 9000 is the family of standards which are concerned with Quality Management Systems. ISO 9001 is the member of the family which contains the "requirements", i.e. the list of things that you must do in order to become ISO 9000 registered, or ISO 9001 registered. People tend to use them interchangeably.
To be strictly accurate, you must meet the requirements of ISO 9001. You can only be ISO 9001 registered, not ISO 9000 registered.
The purpose of ISO 9001 is to ensure that you meet your customers' requirements, and continue to improve the way in which you do so.
It is a Business Management Standard which is concerned with the ways in which an organisation or business determines their clients' requirements, and then provides the resources to meet them. It is also concerned with the ways in which an organisation monitors and measures how well it meets these specifications and whether the processes can be improved. This is often referred to as the "Plan-Do-Check-Act" cycle.
Contrary to popular belief, ISO 9001 is not concerned with how to make well-engineered products or supply a high-class service. Rather, it is about having a framework which enables you to meet your customers' requirements and continually improving your systems for supplying the product or service that you produce. This results in a controlled environment in which your products and services are more likely to be correct.
By meeting the requirements of ISO 9001, organisations will ensure through their own efforts that they meet their customer's requirements and expectations. The risk of failure will be substantially reduced, and the level of confidence in their products or services will be increased.
You undoubtedly have your own particular reasons for being interested in quality. There are a number of reasons for undertaking ISO 9001:
- Perhaps you have a high level of scrap or rework activities within your business.
- Perhaps you have a high level of customer dissatisfaction.
- Perhaps The Boss thinks it's "a good idea"!
- Perhaps you are considering exporting to a market where proven quality is essential.
- You may be struggling to hang on to the customers you already have, as a result of poor service or a poor standard of supply.
- Perhaps you wish to use ISO 9000 as the vehicle for improving working practices.
In short, you can use ISO 9001 as a vehicle for improving your processes so that you make fewer mistakes, undertake less reworking, have happier customers and make better profits.
In today's highly competitive world, you may find that you need ISO 9001 certification just to to able to quote for business. Being the cheapest just isn't enough for more discerning and sophisticated buyers. There is no point getting the lowest priced goods if they fail to operate properly.
In order to stand out from the crowd, your business needs some way to show that it shines at what it does.
ISO 9001 certification provides a company with a higher level of confidence in the organisation that provided the service or manufactured the item they are considering. The organisation will have been examined by an independent set of assessors, with no bias one way or the other, to determine if the organisation has considered and addressed the various clauses of the standard. This level of attention will usually mean that the organisation concerned will be better than those which have not undertaken ISO 9001 and will offer that higher level of confidence.
We offer consultancy in Environmental Management Systems (ISO 14001), Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems (OHSAS 18001), Business Continuity (ISO 22301) and Information Security (ISO 27001) as part of our core services. We are also able to work with most other ISO standards, British standards and other requirements such as HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points). If you have questions about any of these standards and would like to know how they may benefit your business, one of our consultants will be happy to arrange a free, no-obligation meeting.