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Output Matters – Putting the Theory into Practice

Dr. Nigel H. Croft, Chairman, ISO/TC176/SC2 (Quality Systems), Member ISO Joint Technical Coordination Group, Past (founding) Co-Chair of the Joint ISO/IAF ISO 9000 Advisory Group


The ISO 9000 definition of “effectiveness” is the “extent to which planned activities are realized and planned results are achieved”. So an effective quality management system must (as a minimum) “provide confidence in an organization’s ability to consistently provide conforming products and services”. That is, and always has been, the stated “planned result” of ISO 9001. But what does that mean in practice? Can or should certification to ISO 9001 guarantee 100% conformity 100% of the time? In some organizational contexts this might be a strategic imperative (for example in safety-critical applications), whilst in other situations some deviations, whilst not desirable, might be tolerable.

In this provocative presentation, Dr Croft will explore some of the paradigms that may need to be questioned as we find ourselves moving full-circle in terms of our quality management and product quality thinking. Should we be reviving the old concept of “AQL” (Acceptable Quality Levels) that became so derided in the era of “Zero Defects”? Can we now in some cases “inspect quality into the product”?

Nigel will also explain how the phrase “Output Matters” was born as the result of extensive discussions between ISO/TC176, ISO/CASCO and the IAF; what it means in practice; how it has been embedded into the 2015 version of ISO 9001, and the efforts that have been made in recent years to ensure that the philosophy is deployed not only by organizations, but throughout the conformity assessment community.