ISO 9000:2000 Product Support Initiative

Effort to provide value to users grows out of standards validation work

by Sandford Liebesman and Jim Mroz

When the International Organization for Standardization, known as ISO, Technical Committee (TC) 176 began the process of drafting revised editions of the ISO 9000 series in 1996, a significant goal was to verify and validate the drafts to ensure they fulfilled TC 176's objectives and provided added value for their users.

Verification consisted of checking the drafts against the specifications describing the committee's understanding of user needs. Validation consisted of obtaining feedback from users on the ability of the draft standards to meet their needs.

Verification and validation of the ISO 9000:2000 family of standards were conducted as special projects from 1998 to 2000. Feedback from participating organizations resulted in improvements to the drafts.

The successful validation effort made the U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to ISO/TC 176 recognize the value of the validation process. The TAG agreed to conduct the ISO 9001:2000 product support initiative (PSI) as a mechanism for providing information that will improve the ability of organizations to understand and apply ISO 9001:2000 in their quality management systems (QMSs).

The vision of the U.S. TAG is to provide product support and to continue validation activities resulting in useful inputs for future revisions of the ISO 9000 family. The PSI will be a resource that enhances the value of the ISO 9000:2000 family, helps organizations conform to ISO 9001:2000 and provides inputs on implementation experience to the U.S. TAG and ISO/TC 176.

Who are the PSI customers?

The following are considered the customers of the PSI:

  • Organizations in the process of achieving QMS conformance to ISO 9001:2000.
  • Organizations considering ISO 9001 implementation efforts.
  • Registrars and accreditation bodies.
  • Trainers and consultants.
  • The U.S. TAG to ISO/TC 176.

Several strategies will be used to fulfill the vision of the PSI:

  • Develop the IDEAS (information, discussion, examples, analysis and sources) program to provide help to organizations during implementation. This help will be in the form of information in response to questions, discussion generated through a listserv Web site and other sources, analysis of issues and references to sources of information. However, some questions that could result in interpretations may be sent to the U.S. TAG interpretations coordinator for ISO TC 176, Morgan Hall of the University of Maryland. His committee will review these questions and determine whether to provide them to TC 176.
  • Maintain a PSI survey as a mechanism for summarizing issues, problem areas, successes, costs and the added value of conformance across a broad spectrum of organizations.
  • Develop case studies to provide in-depth information about the conformance process across a specified spectrum of organizational sizes (small with fewer than 50 employees, medium with 50-250, large with more than 250), product categories (manufacturing, software, services, processed materials) and industries (automotive, aerospace, healthcare, telecommunications). The case study questionnaire format will build on the PSI survey.

ISO 9001:2000 survey

The ISO 9001:2000 PSI survey contains 53 questions in the following eight categories:

  • General information (organization demographics).
  • Assessment of QMS status (gap analysis and improvements).
  • The QMS documentation, development and implementation processes.
  • Training and other implementation aids.
  • Value and use of internal audits and preassessments.
  • The registration process (quality of registrar services).
  • Estimate of resources used for conformance.
  • Estimate of value added by ISO standards conformance.

The survey is posted on a PSI survey Web site at www.asq.org/mr/psisurvey.html, where it can be filled out online by organizations that have achieved ISO 9001:2000 conformance.

Most questions are multiple choice, some use scroll down features and a few require brief answers. The intent is for the survey to be easy to use and quick to complete and for it to provide valuable data for two purposes:

  • To provide quantifiable measurements of the experiences of organizations implementing and using ISO 9001:2000. These measurements can be used to alter and enhance U.S. and ISO introductory support efforts and may be submitted as feedback for future revisions of the standards.
  • To publicize and promote the use of ISO 9001:2000 through reports of the survey results and case studies demonstrating real-world implementation. It is expected positive feedback from ISO 9001:2000 conforming organizations will help other organizations in their quest for compliance.

Results from the PSI will be disseminated through various media: Web sites, ASQ publications, publications covering ISO 9000 (for example, the Informed Outlook, Quality Systems Update and Quality Digest) and business publications. Feedback will be provided to the U.S. TAG and ISO/TC 176 for the next revision of the standards.

Expected deliverables

The following are the deliverables envisioned by the U.S. TAG:

  • Posting of implementation information gathered by IDEAS on the Web site. The information will be organized by the major processes of ISO 9001:2000 and linked to the eight quality management principles that framed the ISO 9000 revisions.
  • Periodic analysis and posting of results from the survey of ISO 9001:2000 conforming organizations.
  • Development of case studies aligned with the PSI survey.
  • Development of a PSI Web site managed by ASQ to provide continual results of the IDEAS program, continuing surveys of ISO 9001:2000 conforming organizations; a summary of survey results; and individual case studies and a summarization of successfully conforming organizations by size, product categories and industry.
  • Publication of at least one article in Quality Progress each year summarizing survey results.
  • Contribution of at least one article on case studies in Quality Progress.
  • Development of several case studies as articles in the Informed Outlook each year.
  • Issuance of a report to the U.S. TAG summarizing information about ISO 9001:2000 implementation by the first quarter of 2004.
  • Completion of a plan to study the use of ISO 9004:2000 for QMS performance improvement by Jan. 1, 2002.

Five subteams

This support initiative for the introduction of the ISO 9000 revisions is being led by Sandy Liebesman and supported by the U.S. TAG and ASQ. The following five subteams were created to accomplish the goals of the PSI:

  • Subteam one, led by Nancy Jennejohn of the University of Wisconsin-Stout, is responsible for the IDEAS program. This subteam will analyze information on a periodic basis, publish results on the PSI Web site and publish articles on results from the IDEAS program.
  • Subteam two, led by Ron Berglund of MRI International, is responsible for the PSI survey. This subteam will analyze information from the survey and publish that information and analysis.
  • Subteam three, led by Joe Green of KVF Quad Corp., is responsible for conducting case studies and analyzing the results.
  • Subteam four, led by consultant Herb Monnich, is responsible for direct support of the participating organizations. The subteam consists of regional coordinators who will help promote the initiative in their regions, identify participating organizations, help them locate resources and support them during their efforts. The regional coordinators are: John Broomfield, Quality Management International (Mid-Atlantic Region); Si Daily, California Manufacturing Technology Center (Far West Region); Nancy Jennejohn, University of Wisconsin-Stout (Midwest Region); Dennis Kelly, Georgia Tech University (Southeast Region); Herb Monnich, consultant (Southwest Region); Richard Vinton, Raytheon (Northeast Region); Ken Sowder, Bechtel BWXT Idaho LLC (Pacific Northwest Region).
  • Subteam five will be made up of staff from ASQ and the Informed Outlook, who will have a number of support responsibilities such as communications, publications, references, marketing, database and Web site.


The PSI was kicked off on Aug. 31, 2001, with the first dissemination of IDEAS results. The kickoff marked the initiation of the survey and the case study effort. It is expected that the initiative will last at least three years.

We anticipate providing information for organizations that will help them effectively use and conform to ISO 9001:2000. In addition, we expect to provide inputs to ISO/TC 176 that will be used in the next revision of the ISO 9000 family.

SANDFORD LIEBESMAN, former ISO manager for corporate quality and customer satisfaction at Lucent Technologies, is now a consultant in the standards area. He is a member of ISO/Technical Committee 176 (ISO 9000 family) and the QuEST Forum (TL 9000). Liebesman is also a Registrar Accreditation Board certified lead auditor, a certified TL 9000 lead auditor, author of the book Using ISO 9000 To Improve Business Processes and co-author of the ASQ Quality Press book TL 9000: A Guide for Measuring Excellence in Telecommunications.

JAMES MROZ is senior editor of the Informed Outlook, which is co-published by the International Forum for Management Systems Inc. and ASQ. He earned a bachelor's degree in English and history from Boston College.

If you would like to comment on this article, please post your remarks on the Quality Progress Discussion Board, or e-mail them to editor@asq.org.

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