Today's free market economies increasingly encourage diverse sources of supply and provide opportunities for expanding markets. Fair competition needs to be based on identifiable, clearly defined common references that are recognised from one country to the next. A standard, internationally recognised, developed by consensus among trading partners, serves as the language of trade.
The International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) has developed around 8'700, mostly technical related standards on this basis. Standards Series such as ISO 9000, ISO 14000 and what is to be known as ISO 18000 and ISO 24000 are Management related. These standards contain generic guidelines for Management Systems in the area of Quality, Environment, Occupational Health & Safety and Human Resources.
What is ISO?
ISO is a word derived from the Greek isos, meaning "equal". ISO Standards are developed and updated by the International Organisation for Standardisation which has around 150 member bodies. A member body of ISO is the national body "most representative of standardisation in its country".(eg. Germany - DIN, USA - ANSI, Australia - SAA).
ISO 9000 Standard Series
More than 50 countries, as well as the European Community have adopted ISO 9000 which is recognised internationally as a benchmark for measuring quality in a trade context. Since its first issue in 1987, approximately 430'000 companies have been using ISO 9000. Being a standard coming from an organisation that is usually involved in the development of technical standards, ISO 9000 is often regarded as a document that belongs in the hands of a technician exposed to production line quality control. At a closer look, however, ISO 9000 Standard Series provide guidance in the development and application of Management Systems as well as Quality Control in Manufacturing and Administration.
Types of Management Systems
ISO has been developing a number of Management System Guidelines for various aspects of business. The most recent are the ISO 14000 Environmental Management System Guidelines. This is an international standard that will affect business in the near future. ISO 14000 has been designed to integrate with ISO 9000. However, apart from international standards there are local standards a company has to comply with. To remain compliant with local standards, further manuals and/or procedures are required (eg. lifting procedure in a warehouse to satisfy Work Safety requirements). A company may have several Manuals describing its Management Systems (eg. Human Resources, Quality, Security, Health/Safety, Finances). An overall link between the systems is often missing which makes the monitoring and the assessment of effectiveness difficult. Double handling of information, contradicting instructions, high maintenance costs, administrative excess and lack of overall transparency are common results.
Equilibrium uses My-Backoffice as its Quality and Management System developer. Our Management Systems Division provides services for Quality Audit and Compliance. A paper on Integrating Management Systems with the ISO context is available for your perusal. Should you have any questions please contact us.
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