ISO 9004 Overlooked?

Have you read, or at least looked at, the ISO 9004:2009 standard? Do you even have access to a copy? Or, are you focused on the ISO 9001:2008 standard and ignoring its companion guidance document?

Let’s start with the title of ISO 9004: “Managing for the sustained success on an organization – A quality management approach.” The sustained success of an organization is achieved by its ability to meet the needs and expectations of its customers over the long term and in a balanced way.

Sustained success can be achieved by the effective management of your organization, through awareness of its environment, by learning, and by the appropriate application of improvements and innovations.

ISO 9004 provides a wider focus on quality management than ISO 9001. It addresses the needs and expectations of all relevant parties and provides guidance for the systematic and continual improvement of the organization’s overall performance.

The main ISO 9004 clauses are:

4. Managing for the sustained success of an organization

Top management should adopt a quality management approach based on the quality principles described in Annex B of the standard. These principles define the concepts that are the foundation of an effective quality management system.

5. Strategy and policy

To achieve sustained success, top management should establish and maintain a mission (why your organization exists), a vision (the desired state), and values for your organization. These should be clearly understood, accepted, and supported by people in the organization, and as appropriate, by other interested parties.

6. Resource management

To ensure that resources such as equipment, facilities, materials, energy, knowledge, finance, and people are used effectively and efficiently, your organization should have processes in place to provide, allocate, monitor, optimize, maintain, and protect those resources.

7. Process management

Your organization should proactively manage all its processes, including outsourced processes, to ensure that they are effective and efficient, in order to achieve its objectives. This can be facilitated by adopting a process approach that includes establishing processes, interdependencies, constraints, and shared resources.

8. Monitoring, measurement, analysis, and review

To achieve sustained success in an ever-changing and uncertain environment, it is necessary for your organization to regularly monitor, measure, analyze, and review its performance.

9. Improvement, innovation, and learning

Depending on your organization’s environment, improvement of its products and processes, and innovation to develop new products and processes, could be necessary for sustained success. And, learning provides the basis for effective and efficient improvement and innovation.

Annex A provides a tool for organizations to self-assess their own strengths and weaknesses, to determine their level of maturity, and to identify opportunities for improvement and innovation.

For example, the maturity levels for Internal Audit are indicated in Annex A as:

Level 1: Some data is collected, but no formal approach is used. Audits are reactively performed in response to problems, customer complaints, etc. Collected data is mostly used to resolve problems with products.

Level 2: Some data is collected from key processes on a regular basis. Audit data is used systematically to review the management system. Self-assessment is limited. Data and the results of evaluations are beginning to be used in a preventive way.

Level 3: Data gathering is embedded in a structured process. When necessary, qualifying studies are conducted to verify the data, particularly when the data is derived from judgments, opinions, etc. Audits ensure the accuracy of data and the effectiveness of the management system. Self-assessments are conducted and the results used to determine the organization’s maturity and to improve its overall performance.

Level 4: The data gathering processes are continually evaluated and their effectiveness and efficiency improved. Self-assessment outcomes are integrated into the strategic planning process. Identified gaps from the higher maturity levels are compared with the vision and strategy, and the organization takes action to close them in a planned way.

Level 5: The organization involves other interested parties in its audits, in order to help identify additional opportunities for improvement. Self-assessments are performed by the organization at all levels.

Annex B provides a description of the quality management principles that are the basis of the quality management standards.

Annex C gives a clause by clause correspondence between ISO 9001:2008 and ISO 9004:2009.

ISO 9001 specifies requirements for a quality management system that can be used for internal application, or for certification, or for contractual purposes, and focuses on the effectiveness of the quality management system in meeting customer requirements.

ISO 9004 provides guidance for organizations to move beyond the basic requirements of ISO 9001, to address the needs and expectations of all interested parties and their satisfaction, by systematic and continual improvement of organizational performance.

You can order an electronic copy of ISO 9004 at this ASQ Store web page.