ISO 9001 and 9004 are both part of the ISO 9000 family of standards. These standards, even though they’re both about quality management systems (QMS), they have some important aspects that differentiate them. Many organizations, when seeking to establish or improve a QMS, tend to get confused about which standard to use or if they should use both. In exploring ISO 9001 vs 9004, the main differences between them will be highlighted.
- ISO 9001 provides a framework for a systematic approach to managing an organization’s processes so that their products or services are consistent and meet client expectations. It also ensures the organization meets applicable laws, regulations and other requirements.
- The ISO 9004 standard is intended to help organizations extend the benefits of their QMS to stakeholders and all other interested parties, helping to give sustained success.
- ISO 9001 is a requirements document. It is the only ISO 9000 family standard which an organization can be certified against in order to demonstrate conformance to its requirements.
- On the other hand, ISO 9004 is a guidance document on how to achieve continuous improvement to get excellence for the organization. It is not intended for certification.
- ISO 9001 standard’s main focus is on customer requirements. This standard focuses on assuring conformance to defined customer requirements and ensure effective response to customer feedback.
- ISO 9004 focuses mainly on meeting the requirements of customers and all other interested parties. It aims at balancing the needs of all stakeholders in order to achieve sustained success.
- In ISO 9001 continual improvement of the QMS is achieved mainly by performing management reviews, internal/external audits and corrective/preventive actions.
- ISO 9004 promotes self-assessment in order for organizations to identify areas of strength or weakness and opportunities for either improvements or innovations, or both. It guides organizations on setting realistic and challenging improvement goals for their processes.
There are many other differences between both these standards; however, what is important to understand is that:
- They are both intended to be used by any organization, regardless of their size and nature, to establish and improve their QMS;
- ISO 9001 is intended for certification and ISO 9004 is not and;
- ISO 9001 is focused mainly on customer satisfaction and ISO 9004 has a broader focus that include all stakeholders in order to achieve sustained success.
Many people believe that ISO 9004 is a guideline for the implementation of ISO 9001, however, this is not true. These standards complement each other, so they can be used simultaneously by an organization, and they can also be used independently. Some organizations decide to use ISO 9001 to establish and improve their QMS and then move on to ISO 9004 as a guide to obtain long term benefit from a more broad-based QMS.
To the novice quality manager, ISO jargon can be extremely overwhelming. What is an NCR? What do you mean by OFI? Are we certified or accredited? But before you go and pull out your hair, let’s take a moment to go over some of the most frequently used terms and their definitions with regards to ISO and Management System Certification.