ISO 9001 and ISO 9004 are standards that complement each other and their implementation aims to ensure quality success and reach improved performance in any organization. Both these standards can be implemented independently or simultaneously; however, the most common scenario is for organizations to implement ISO 9001 and later use ISO 9004 to improve their processes and to obtain long term benefit from a more broad-based Quality Management System.

These standards are both similar in terms of structure and terminology used to allow easy integration. They are also based on the same quality management principles, therefore, when an organization has successfully implemented ISO 9001, it is relatively simple to integrate ISO 9004 and achieve an improved performance.

The best way to integrate these complementary standards is by doing the following:

Organizations need to identify and rank their quality needs, where the most basic needs are at the bottom and address ISO 9001 requirements and at the top are the needs to achieve improved performance. After identifying and ranking these needs, organizations must work up from ISO 9001 to ISO 9004 one step at a time.

Effectiveness

One of the basic needs that should be addressed is the effectiveness of the quality management system, that include areas such as

  1. meeting customer requirements;
  2. prevention of customer dissatisfaction;
  3. recalls and defects; and
  4. the production of safe products.

Efficiency

After meeting the effectiveness of the system, the efficiency should be then addressed. Here the focus should be

  1. the efficient use of resources;
  2. the reduction of material costs;
  3. the decrease of cycle times; and
  4. the increase of the organizations productivity.

Competitive Advantage

Achieving competitive advantage should be the last need to address; here it is essential to focus on ensuring delighted customers, increasing market share and increasing profitability.

This process is continuous, because an organization may never relegate it’s basic needs to address its top ones. It must constantly work in meeting all of them and ISO 9004 gives guidance on how to achieve this continuous improved performance.

Before attempting to integrate ISO 9001 and ISO 9004, it is essential to fully understand them both; even though they complement each other, they have different roles and different approaches. They each have a role to play in providing value to any organization that decides to embrace them both to improve their quality management system and achieve long term success.

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