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ISO 9000 background
The ISO 9000 series of quality management and quality assurance standards are published by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), which is based in Geneva. The standards were published in 1987 and based on the earlier British Standard 5750, with input from other countries such as Canada. The five standards in the series (ISO 9000-ISO 9004) provide a framework for quality system development in nearly all types of industry.
At present, more than 50 countries, including Australia, Japan, New Zealand, the UK and the USA, have adopted the ISO 9000 series as their national quality system standard. In most cases, these national standards are identical to the ISO 9000 series. The ISO 9000 standards were also originally adopted in Europe as EN 29000 and now have been redesignated EN ISO 9000. Any mandatory requirement for quality systems within European Community (EC) directives will refer to these standards.
However, careful study of the ISO 9000 series of standards in recent years by certain major groups of users or potential users identified a number of needs that are not easily met in the 1987 version. Also, a number of users felt that the 1987 version should be revised to take into account changes in technology, terminology and practice. In particular, the key areas to be addressed in the revision were:
* the importance of all people's needs being satisfied (including employees, owners, suppliers/subcontractors and society);
* management commitment with a greater emphasis on executive roles;
* full involvement of personnel;
* operational processes showing linkages to the overall system;
* customer satisfaction and the importance of meeting customer requirements.
Accordingly, the technical committee of ISO (TC 176) has revised the ISO 9000 series and released them mid-1994. The new revision is part of a broader programme resulting from a long-term strategy which was published as a document - Vision 2000. One of the elements addressed was the need to make more significant changes to take account of the move towards the principles of total quality management (TQM). Thus the TC 176 directive, in revising the ISO 9000 series, is to "build in" some TQM ingredients into the system including: quality improvement; management commitment with a greater emphasis on executive roles; operational processes showing linkages to the overall system; and customer satisfaction. The obvious concern to the public and the quality practitioners is: "Would the revised ISO 9000 quality system lead the way to TQM company-wide when all the aforesaid ingredients are in place and enforced?" An even more fundamental question may be: "Are all the TC 176 directives really met through adoption of the revised ISO 9000 system?"
Principle of TQM
There are numerous valuable contributions related to the theory, techniques, studies and guidance on TQM[4-9]. The philosophy of TQM is trying to involve employees at all levels to promote the wellbeing of the company as a whole. TQM depends on linking the top management goals with a set of TQC tools for the operators to achieve these goals. Dr W.E. Deming and Dr J.M. Juran were the pioneers who introduced the concept of TQM. When compared with the 20 requirements of the ISO 9001 quality system, Dr Deming and Dr Juran also list 14 points and seven points respectively as guidelines on quality systems.
As previously stated, quality is everyone's responsibility. TQM is a method by which all people can be involved in improvement. The philosophy and techniques used in TQM can be applied throughout the organization. They are equally useful in finance, sales, marketing, engineering and production; to everyone involved in a company's activities. To be successful in promoting business efficiency and effectiveness, TQM must be truly company-wide and it must start at the top management level. The following are the key elements for successful implementation of TQM:
* commitment and involvement by top management;
* a teamwork approach to solving …