ISO has published a short, information brochure, ISO 9001:2000 - What does it mean in the supply chain? that is now available free of charge in the ISO 9000 section on ISO's Web site.

This document is aimed at managers who are involved in the selection of suppliers, and/or responsible for purchasing decisions in a business-to-business situation, and who may well encounter suppliers that claim to have an ISO 9001:2000-based quality management system. The brochure addresses the following main topics:

  • What is ISO 9001:2000?
  • What does "conformity to ISO 9001:2000" mean?
  • How does ISO 9001:2000 help managers to select a a supplier?
  • How can managers have confidence that a supplier meets ISO 9001:2000?
  • Can suppliers claim that their goods or services meet ISO 9001:2000?
  • What to do if things go wrong.

ISO Secretary-General Alan Bryden commented: "Within the context of the growth of international trade and global supply chains, ISO 9001:2000 is being used by suppliers and customers located in different countries to establish initial confidence, or even to select partners in the supply chain. This new ISO brochure will help them to avoid unpleasant surprises and to use ISO 9001:2000 to its full potential."

The brochure is the work of the ISO 9000 Advisory Group (IAG), which was formed in 2002, and currently comprises representatives from ISO/TC 176 (the ISO technical committee responsible for developing and maintaining the ISO 9000 family), ISO/CASCO (ISO Committee on conformity assessment), ISO/COPOLCO (ISO Committee on consumer policy), the IAF (International Accreditation Forum), and the IPC (International Personnel Certification Association - formerly the IATCA, International Auditor and Training Certification Association).

Co-Chair of the IAG, Nigel Croft, explained: "The IAG developed its informative brochure for the intended audience of purchasers in a business-to-business environment, who are not necessarily certified to or even familiar with ISO 9001:2000. It provides answers to questions they may have such as the following:

  • Does a claim of conformity to ISO 9001:2000 mean there is an absolute 'guarantee' that all the goods and services provided will always meet the customers' requirements?
  • How can a purchaser be sure that its supplier really does have a quality management system that meets ISO 9001:2000 requirements and that is relevant to the products it is providing?
  • Where does product certification fit in?
  • What should customers do if they are not happy with the performance of their suppliers?"

Nigel Croft added: "One of the primary objectives of ISO 9001:2000, as described in Clause 1.1 of the standard is 'to specify requirements for a quality management system where an organization...needs to demonstrate its ability to consistently provide product that meets customer and applicable regulatory requirements...'

"A reasonable expectation of customers of organizations that claim to have an ISO 9001:2000-based quality management system should therefore be that the product or services they receive is in fact realized in conformity to those requirements on a consistent basis. It was with these issues in mind that the ISO 9000 Advisory Group developed the new brochure."