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Improved customer satisfaction - Key result of ISO 9000 user survey

by Alka Jarvis & Colin MacNee on
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In October 2010, subcommittee SC 2, Quality systems, of ISO/TC 176, the technical committee that developed the ISO 9000 series of quality management system (QMS) standards, launched a major survey of existing and potential users of ISO 9001 and ISO 9004 in 122 countries. The objective was to understand user needs better, identify opportunities for improvement, and guide the long-term strategic direction of quality management.

The survey findings clearly showed improved customer satisfaction to be the primary reason for seeking ISO 9001 certification, and the most important benefit from implementing the QMS standard.

Of a total of 11 722 respondents to the user survey, 4 222 cited customer satisfaction as the key influencing factor behind certification, ahead of 3689 indicating “market need”, while 5 886 saw it as the primary benefit, with the value of “standard business processes” in close second place.

Summary of key results

A User Survey Task Force comprising 11 ISO national member institute experts was established to develop and implement the worldwide survey, conducted in 11 languages (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish), analyze results and prepare a summary report.

The survey was tailored to independently certified organizations, previously certified and non-certified users, and those not currently using the standards.

Although the full survey comprised 58 individual questions, the following is a summary of the key questions and answers only. They represent responses from organizations and individuals who were aware of the survey, and willing to provide inputs. The survey was not intended to be a representative statistical sample of all interested parties worldwide.

Next steps

The survey results will provide significant input for SC 2’s systematic review process in determining where improvements to ISO 9001 might be needed. If the review indicates the need for a revision of ISO 9001, the data will guide the development of a design specification for such a revision.

Q1. Are you responding on behalf of your organization, or giving an individual response ?
(Based on 11 722 responses)

  • Individual 53 %
  • Organization 47 %

Q2. What is the size of your organization in number of employees ?
(Based on 4 718 responses)

  • Medium 39 %
  • Small 37 %
  • Large 24 %

Q3. What is your generic product category ?
(Based on 5 754 responses)

  • Services 43 %
  • Hardware 31 %
  • Processed material 19 %
  • Software 7 %

Q4. Describe your current use of ISO 9001
(Based on 9 426 responses)

  • 3rd party certified user 76 %
  • Non-certified user 13 %
  • Previously certified user 6 %
  • Not a current user 5 %

Q5. Which of these factors influence your organization in ISO 9001 certification ?

  • Other:   <600
  • Self declared conformance:   2 272
  • Mandated customer requirement:   3 290
  • Market need:   3689
  • Customer satisfaction:   4 222

The responses clearly indicated customer satisfaction as the primary reason for ISO 9001 certification.

Q6. What are the most important benefits of applying ISO 9001 to your organization ?

Multiple response question Number of responses
Improved customer satisfaction 5 886
Standard business processes 5 821
Increased management commitment 4 125
Effective use of data as a business management tool 4 112
More effective management reviews 3 975
Improved customer communication 3 577
Increased supplier performance 2 289
It is a customer requirement 2 262
Improved supplier communication 2 216
Improved financial performance 1 241
Other  354
No benefit at all  161

The responses indicated that improved customer satisfaction and standardized business processes were seen as the most important benefits of ISO 9001 i mplementation.

Q7. Ability to integrate an ISO 9001 based QMS with other management system standards or models.

Multiple response question Number of responses
Environmental management systems (ISO 14001) 3 204
Occupational Health & Safety Management (OHSAS 18001) 2 132
Not attempted 1 903
Other models and standards, e.g. : Malcolm Baldrige  973
Automotive QMS (ISO/TS 16949)  841
Information security management systems (ISO 27001)  471
Aerospace QMS (AS 9100 or EN 9100)  458
Medical devices QMS (ISO 13485)  414
Food safety management systems (ISO 22000)  339
Conformity assessment (ISO/IEC 17000 family of standards)  154
Energy management (draft ISO 50001 – since published)  130
Telecommunications QMS (TL 9000)  111
Security management systems for the supply chain (ISO 28000)  110
European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM)  108
Petroleum, petrochemical and natural gas industries QMS (ISO/TS 29001)     92

Although the responses indicated that an ISO 9001-based QMS could be integrated with many other management system standards and models, over 3 200 respondents had integrated the QMS with ISO 14001, and over 2 130 with OHSAS 18001.

Q8. How would you describe the ongoing relevance of ISO 9001:2008 ?

  • Okay, but with enhancements 64 %
  • Fine as it is 27 %
  • No longer relevant 5 %
  • Other 4 %

Some 64 % of respondents thought that ISO 9001:2008 would remain relevant with enhancements, 27 % considered it “fine as it is”, and 5 % considered the standard “no longer relevant”.

Q9. Which of the following options would you prefer for the future of ISO 9001 ?

Responses                     Potential options for future editions of ISO 9001
Positive : 43 %
Negative: 48 %
Neutral: 9 %
Option A – Leave ISO 9001 unchanged, i.e. re-confirm “as is” for a further five years.
Positive: 53 %
Negative: 35 %
Neutral: 12 %
Option B – Revision of ISO 9001 based on the suggestions for change arising from this survey, and produce one revised ISO 9001 standard where all requirements remain equally mandatory.
Positive: 25 %
Negative: 65 %
Neutral: 10 %
Option C – Leave ISO 9001:2008 unchanged but also develop another standard with an enhanced (higher level) set of QMS requirements for sustained success that could be used for certification.
Positive: 24 %
Negative: 67 %
Neutral: 9 %
Options D – Leave ISO 9001:2008 unchanged but also develop another standard with a reduced (lighter version) set of requirements that could be used for certification of organizations providing low-risk products.
Positive: 26 %
Negative: 66 %
Neutral: 8 %
Option E – Replace ISO 9001:2008 with a series of three documents (Quality Management System 1, Quality Management System 2, Quality Management System 3) with higher, middle and lower sets of requirements that could be used for certification depending on the risk and criticality associated with the organization’s products.
Positive: 41 %
Negative: 49 %
Neutral: 10 %
Option F – Replace ISO 9001:2008 with a single standard to include a much broader range of higher and lower sets of requirements, allowing organizations a greater choice depending on risk and criticality associated with the organization’s products.
Positive: 44 %
Negative: 47 %
Neutral: 9 %
Option G – Replace ISO 9001:2008 with a single standard to include a full range of higher, middle and lower sets of requirements, with points-based maturity assessment.

Of the seven options relating to future ISO 9001 standards, the most popular in order of priority were B, G, A and F, all involving a single ISO 9001 requirement standard. Options C, E and D were the least popular options, and involved multiple requirements documents.

Q10. How important is it to incorporate the following concepts into ISO 9001 ?

Concept % of positive responses
Resource management 75
Voice of customers 74
Measures (e.g. performance, satisfaction, return on investment)          72
Knowledge management 72
Integration of risk management 73
Systematic problem solving and learning 73
Self-assessment tool 71
Strategic planning 68
Innovation 65
Use of technology to develop and implement requirements 63
Life cycle management 62
Use of technology to run your business 61
Financial resources of the organization 55
Supporting quality tools (for example : Six Sigma, etc.) 55

Of 6 299 responses, 75 % considered resource management as the most important concept to incorporate into ISO 9001, closely followed by “voice of customers”.

Conclusions

Among key conclusions from the survey, it is clear that users believe ISO 9001 and ISO 9004 to be effective quality management standards that remain relevant for the future, 8 000 comments related to enhancements.

Many respondents suggested that, while major changes were not required, improvements could be made to address everchanging global and business requirements  to ensure ISO 9001 remained the most important standard for QMS implementation.

A number of respondents also criticized the way in which ISO 9001 was implemented and recommended better application guidance.

Next steps

The survey results will provide significant input for SC 2’s systematic review process in determining where improvements to ISO 9001 might be needed. If the review indicates the need for a revision of ISO 9001, the data will guide the development of a design specification for such a revision.

Alka Jarvis
Alka Jarvis
Alka Jarvis
Corporate Quality Process and Performance Excellence Leader
Cisco Systems

Alka Jarvis is a member of ISO/TC 176/SC 2, and was involved in the development of the 2000, 2004 and 2008 versions of ISO 9001. She is also Leader of the User Survey Task Force and a member of the Strategic Planning Operations Task Group for SC 2. She is Corporate Quality Process and Performance Excellence Leader at Cisco Systems and won Silicon Valley’s “Corporate Woman Advocate of The Year” award for her accomplishments in the software quality field.

Colin MacNee
Colin MacNee
Colin MacNee
Chair
Chartered Quality Institute (CQI)

Colin MacNee was a member of the ISO/TC 176 draft teams for ISO 9001:2000, ISO 9001:2008 and ISO 19011:2011, and participated in previous ISO 9000 User Surveys. He is coauthor of HB 10181:2001 Transition to ISO 9001:2000, published by the British Standards Institution, and is Chair of the Chartered Quality Institute (CQI) Stakeholder Board and Secretary of the International Accreditation Forum (IAF) Technical Committee.