Answer - "What is ISO?"

Subject: Answer - "What is ISO?"
From: Kelly Burhenne <burhennk -at- SMTPGW -dot- LIEBERT -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 2 Feb 1995 15:29:05 EST

Text item: Text_1

ISO stands for "International Standards Organization" (note the word
"standards"). It is a certification that companies receive.
Companies pay *a lot* of money for ISO auditors (generally, people
from other companies) to come to your business and audit your
"procedures". ISO requires that every department have specific
documentation describing what you do and how you do it--you must do it
the same every time. It takes a lot of work. Every department must
have their own "Departmental Procedure Manual" which contains specific
procedures on how to do your job.

ISO does not ensure that what you make is good, safe, etc. (such as
UL), it only ensures that you are _consistent_ in what you do, and
that what you do is documented. The auditors will ask you questions
like, "how do you know to do it that way?" You must go to the
Department manual and show them the specific procedure that tells you
that that's how you do it (this applies to _every_ job in _every_

Another big thing ISO is concerned about is "controlled documents",
which means that if you distribute a document (even a phone list), you
must provide every person who received the original with an update as
soon as one is available (if you do not, it is a non-conformance and
reason for rejection). You can still use uncontrolled documents as
long as they are labeled as such.

Also, you cannot _use_ any information that is not a procedure (e.g.,
you cannot have a post-it note hanging on your wall saying, "new
release memos go to John in Parts and Cheryl in Accounting"). Instead,
you must have form #xxx in the Department Procedure Manual stating it.
In addition, _any and all_ forms that you use must have a form number
with a revision date and must be incorporated into your procedures.

My company was recently ISO 90001 certified! Whew! What an
accomplishment (btw, we are also the only service organization to be
UL certified). You can go for ISO 90001, 90002, 90003, or 90004.
Generally, 90001 is for *manufacturing* facilities (i.e., where people
*design* things). Service organizations generally go for 90002. But
my company pushed for 90001 (argument=we *design* service contracts),
and we got it. We were rejected the first time, as most companies are
(the auditors tell you what to clean up and come back in a few weeks
or months and re-audit). BTW, each time the auditors come out, it is
a HUGE amount of money.

In summary, if your company wants to become certified, it will take a
huge committment from management, a lot of time to prepare, and a lot
of money! Is it worth it? If you bid on things like government
contracts or have competitors who are certified, you better hope you
are, too!

If you have any questions, you can e-mail me!

Kelly Burhenne
burhennk -at- smtpgw -dot- liebert -dot- com
Columbus, OH

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