ISO 9000 history

History and terminology

The ISO Navigator™ database hyperlinks the ISO 9000 principles and the ISO 9001 requirements; and explains them in plain English with practical guidance.

ISO 9000 History

BS 5750:1979

In the 1970's many major organisations published their own quality management standards (eg Ford's Q101, the Ministry of Defence's 05-20 series, etc.) which introduced the idea that confidence in a product could be gained from an approved quality management system and quality manuals.

By the late 70's it was decided that, for the first time, there would be a national standard on what constituted a quality system. BS5750 was developed from the earlier BS5179 guidelines but was firmly based around Ministry of Defence (MoD) requirements and terminology.

ISO 9000:1987 series

With the rise of international trade in the 1980's there was a need for some kind of internationally recognised quality system. To that end BS5750 was given a bit of face-lift and was issued as:

  1. BS5750 (British Standard) series in the UK
  2. EN 29000 (Euro-norm) series in the EU
  3. ISO 9000 (ISO) series throughout the rest of the world.

One of the rules of ISO is that they review all their standards every five years. The triple-numbering of the same document caused all sorts of confusion eg the UK version was called BS EN ISO 9002, etc. So did the various levels of approval eg ISO 9001, ISO 9002, ISO 9003.

ISO 9000:1994 series

This also the first time ISO 9000 required a quality manual. ISO 9004:1994 was useful but muddled. A few rough edges were removed but it remained a generally incomprehensible document, still owing much to the MoD. It was basically 20 badly worded telegrams stuffed into a book at random.

ISO 9000: 2000 series

The 2000 revision is just the next step in this process. The most significant changes are that both, ISO 9002 and ISO 9003 are now obsolete. All companies will now comply with ISO 9001. Some exclusions are permitted but the exclusions are limited to the Product Realization requirements (ISO 9001:2008 Section 7). Exclusions are only permitted where an element of Section 7 is genuinely not relevant to the company.

ISO 9001:2008 is now the only assessable part of ISO 9000. ISO 9001 is now fairly easy to understand - an overdue break from the MoD tradition. The resulting systems tend to be more practical, less bureaucratic and there is more reliance on trained, competent people, less emphasis on procedures for their own sake. Use ISO Navigator to explore ISO 9000 & ISO 9001.

ISO 9000:2005

A new revision of the Standard was published in October 2005. ISO 9000:2005 defines the vocabulary and describes the fundamental principles of quality management systems (QMS).

ISO 9004:2000

This reproduces the full requirement of ISO 9001, which is backed up with useful guidance and makes you think about other, wider, quality standards like Six-Sigma and Business Excellence.

ISO 9004 is thoroughly recommended. It costs £100 but it’s worth every penny. Available from BSI www.bsi-global.com. Also see ISO 19011:2002 guidance for all quality and environmental auditors.