Why ISO 9000 really sucks?

Subject: Why ISO 9000 really sucks?
From: "Hart, Geoff" <Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 6 Aug 2002 09:07:46 -0400

Andrew Plato suggests <<... please refrain from assuming my opinion. Like
all living organisms, I am evolving. And just because I posting something in
1999 raving about ISO 9000 doesn't mean my feelings are the same today.>>

Does this mean you're no longer living in the trees, dragging your knuckles
when you walk, and making fires with flint and steel instead of incendiary
prose? <gdrlh> Me too, and let me tell you, I don't miss the splinters and
knuckle calluses. <g>

<<But trying to certify the entire operation of a business is absurd.>>

I have a lot of sympathy for the notion that certification is designed more
to pad the wallets of consultants than to actually produce significant
improvements. Yet like you, I'm trying to keep evolving too, and it was
recently pointed out to me that more recent revisions of the ISO 9000
standard require an assessment of quality (not just process) and an attempt
to improve. Having stated exactly the opposite in print, I was duly
chastened and hastened to evolve, leaving only a fossil record to confuse
the paleontologists. <g>

<<A company that develops a process merely to assuage auditors is basically
creating nothing of value. Somebody has to pay for this waste - and that
somebody is you, the consumer.>>

That's for sure. Yet if the company uses the auditing exercise to help them
identify weaknesses in the process and ways to speed things up or improve
quality, then the benefits can easily outweigh the costs. For example, in
between our usual work, we spent a couple months figuring out how we
produced reports and where the inefficiences lay (not as part of an ISO
exercise). Fixing those problems let us cut report-production times by more
than 50%.

Were we doing manufacturing or software development, that would easily repay
the costs of the certification process. The savings can be passed along to
consumers, banked to keep techwhirlers employed during tough economic times,
or--as is more commonly the case--used to line the president's retirement
fund and pay his lawyers when the SEC belatedly descends upon him like the

--Geoff Hart, geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca
Forest Engineering Research Institute of Canada
580 boul. St-Jean
Pointe-Claire, Que., H9R 3J9 Canada
"User's advocate" online monthly at
Hofstadter's Law--"The time and effort required to complete a project are
always more than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter's

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