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Monday, June 14, 2010

EFFECTIVENESS of ISO 9001 Certification

(IAF: Sydney, Australia) -- It would not be an exaggeration to say that the ISO 9001 standard from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) brought about a revolution in the field of quality assurance. When initially published in 1987, the standard set a benchmark for evaluating quality management systems by spelling out 20 key activities that need managing by any organization that wants to ensure it can satisfy its customers by offering products and services that meet expectations.
The publication of the standard was also a boon to the certification industry, and ISO 9001 certification quickly became a valuable possession of quality organizations.
Since then the standard has evolved and its structure has changed; new ideas and concepts have been incorporated. It can be said the standard itself demonstrates the principle of continual improvement.
Whether the certification process can also make a similar claim is debatable. Many certification bodies are quick to demonstrate that the certification process has improved over time, the auditor competence requirements have become more rigid, there is more focus on key areas, and surveillance programs take into account the results of past performance as well as market feedback.
However, some stakeholders have expressed concern that the results of the certification process don't demonstrate that certification has achieved its intended result—i.e., that the certified organization can consistently meet the requirements and expectations of its customers and is icontinually improving.
Some efforts have been made in the past to analyze the effectiveness of certification in countries such as Brazil and India. Encouraged by such studies and realizing a need for a more broad-based study, especially in developing economies, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) with support from ISO and the International Accreditation Forum (IAF) plans to carry out a survey of ISO 9001 certification in some South Asian economies.
The project, titled “Implementation of ISO 9001 Quality Management System in Asian Developing Countries: Survey Covering System Development, Certification, Accreditation and Economic Benefits,” is expected to be carried out in about 10 economies in South Asia. The study will focus on questions concerning:
• Whether organizations are deriving tangible benefits through ISO 9001 certification
• Whether certification bodies are carrying out the certification process effectively
• Whether the varied expectations from different stakeholders from the standards are met


Two-phase study

The objective of phase 1 of the project—a survey of customer satisfaction—is to evaluate the effect of ISO 9001 certification on the satisfaction of customers of certified organizations, and their perceptions about the performance of their suppliers (i.e., the certified organizations). The plan is to focus attention on the large institutional purchasers in each country, although inputs from others would also be welcomed.
A survey questionnaire has been developed for this part of the project and has been validated by large institutional purchasers in other parts of the world.
Phase 2, a survey of certified organizations, will be conducted this year. The aim is to assess the effectiveness of the ISO 9001 certification process, the status of the quality management system, and perceptions regarding the effects of certification in ISO 9001-certified organizations. Independent assessors will be used for this part of the project, according to competence criteria and methodologies currently under development in collaboration with ISO and the IAF.
This phase of the project involves visits to certified organizations. The plan is to visit approximately 900 organizations throughout the selected countries.
Expected outcomes of the project include:
• Improved empirical evidence of the economic effect of management system certification in industries in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and South East Asian countries
• Improved knowledge base for national standards, certification, accreditation bodies, governments, regulators, ISO, and IAF about management system certification and supporting schemes
• Best practices and policy guidelines to improve functioning of management-system certification bodies and accreditation boards


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The International Accreditation Forum Inc. (IAF) is the world association of conformity-assessment accreditation bodies and other groups interested in conformity assessment in the fields of management systems, products, services, personnel, and similar programs. The IAF's primary function is to develop a single worldwide program of conformity assessment that reduces risk for businesses and their customers by ensuring that accredited certificates may be relied upon. IAF members accredit certification or registration bodies that issue certificates attesting that an organization’s management, products, or personnel comply with a specified standard.


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