AgDM newsletter article, July 2001

ISO 9001-2000 - a brief discussion

Reg Clauseby Reg Clause, field specialist, ISU Center for Industrial Research and Service. (CIRAS), 800-362-2793, rclause@iastate.edu

Should farmers be interested in ISO? Tightening up internal management of your processes will yield added value in every case. Virtually no farming operation is so tight that it can't benefit from a disciplined process that seeks to improve itself. Market access will be restricted in many cases to those businesses that have these ISO capabilities or at least are compliant to these principles. The value will be extremely lucrative even without a discrete premium in the commodity market.

ISO 9001-2000 states the current ISO requirements for a quality management system. A quality management system refers to the activities you carry out within your organization to satisfy the quality-related expectations of your customers. To ensure that you have a quality management system in place, customers or regulatory agencies may insist that your organization demonstrate that your quality management system conforms to the ISO 9001 quality system model. Then, the customer second party, or an independent third party registrar comes into your organization to "audit," or verify that you have such a system in place. When a registrar finds your organization fulfills the requirements of the ISO 9001 standard, your organization becomes "registered" and receives a certificate that is accepted by many of your customers. This certificate holds consistent meaning throughout the world.

The cost of poor quality is documented for most industries but has not been studied so extensively in agriculture. There is no reason to believe that ag is better in this area and is likely worse since there is no true culture of disciplined management for quality.

Complying with the ISO 9001 standard does not indicate that every product or service meets the customers' requirements, only that the quality system in use is capable of meeting them. That is why you and your organization must continuously assess how satisfied your customers are and constantly improve the processes that produce the products or services.

Complying with the ISO 9001 standard does not indicate that every product or service meets the customers' requirements, only that the quality system in use is capable of meeting them.

Why would we become registered to the ISO 9001-2000 standard?

The cost of poor quality is documented for most industries but has not been studied so extensively in agriculture. There is no reason to believe that ag is better in this area and is likely worse since there is no true culture of disciplined management for quality. Process control is lacking as evidenced by the Starlink debacle. Food safety issues press for more process control. ISO is the most widely recognized method for achieving process control. Its principles are so highly refined that any approach to achieving process control ends up using many of the elements of ISO.

Continual Improvement of the Quality Management System figure

Continual improvement

This continual improvement model is the heart of the ISO 9001-2000 concept. It represents a system that is continually in cycle. Management has complete responsibility for knowing customer requirements, providing the necessary resources, planning and managing the process under control then measuring, analyzing and acting on opportunities to improve future outcomes. Customer satisfaction will be measured as well. The four blocks in the circle represent the core elements of the standard. This is a structure that will in fact improve any business of any type.

Basic requirements of the ISO 9001 standard are:

1. Document your processes that affect quality
2. Retain records and data that describe the quality of the product or service.
3. Ensure that your processes produce consistent quality

The sequence toward registration is this:
1. Say what you do
2. Do what you say
3. Prove it with records and audits
4. Improve it continually

Plan, Do, Check, Act Cycle

Plan: What do you want to accomplish? Do I have the needed resources? Are my people trained? Do I know the customer's specifications or requirements?

Do: Carry out your plan to produce product or service

Check: Measurements, inspection, testing. Anything that can verify that your process performed according to the plan and that there is no likelihood that the customer will be dissatisfied with the outcomes. You look for opportunities for preventative or corrective actions to improve the process.

Act: You act on the corrective or preventative actions that will cause your system to continually improve.

Global benefits include:

ISO is the language of quality globally. Variations on the theme exist and include QS 9000 for automotive or AS 9000 for aerospace. However, the operating principles remain.

How does it directly benefit your organization?

ISO 9000 serves as a basis to:

Two types of customers:

 

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