What is difference between ISO 9000 and Six sigma as quality standards?

On being asked to summarize the differences between two quality standards, ISO 9000 and Six sigma, this is how I replied:

A. ISO 9001 is a management system standard.
B. Six-sigma is a statistical description of process performance.

A. ISO 9001 focuses organizations on their management system that governs the processes that yield products. At the system level ISO 9001 is inviting organizations to address common (system level) causes of process variation. The process-based management systems specified by ISO 9001 can be used to assure product quality and manage continual improvement (to add value faster and prevent loss sooner).

B. Six-sigma is a continual improvement methodology. Most organizations run at two or three sigma.  Six-sigma focuses on designing products so they can be made with fewer defects and on running projects to progressively remove the most costly assignable causes of process variation. Many organizations mistakenly focus their six-sigma efforts on manufacturing before product design. Six-sigma literally means 3.4 defects per one million products. I understand that US airlines with the FAA run their safety processes at about 7-sigma.

So, A and B are designed to work together. Most text books do not mention the 10 to 20 year investment that Motorola, Allied Signal and other six sigma leaders made in developing their management systems before investing in six-sigma. Consequently, perhaps, many organizations using these books have neglected their systems and waste money on their six-sigma efforts because they are let down by inadequate management systems.

To summarize, ISO 9001 specifies a process-based management system which could include its six sigma improvement process.  So, both are compatible and many would say that you should first put in place the organization’s process-based management before investing in six sigma training to turbo-charge the system’s improvement process.

In conclusion, develop your process-based management system first. Run it to assure quality and prevent pollution for a few years. Then invest in six sigma to supercharge your continual improvement process to yield even more cost savings from design, production and delivery.

Please note that certification is not necessary for this but may provide marketing benefits.

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7 Responses to “What is difference between ISO 9000 and Six sigma as quality standards?”

  1. ISO 9000 Says:

    Hey, very nice site. I came across this on Google, and I am stoked that I did. I will definately be coming back here more often. Wish I could add to the conversation and bring a bit more to the table, but am just taking in as much info as I can at the moment.

    iso 9000

  2. ISO Certification Services Says:

    A highly informative article, thank you for posting

  3. Best ISO 9000 in Irelands Says:

    Awesome Post ! it was a great read. Thanks for sharing. I Appreciate it.

  4. Matthew Says:

    Very informative post
    But I need to know if an organisations can run on both processes?
    Can it be possible, how will it

    • Needs2Cash Says:

      Matthew,

      ISO 9001 specifies a process-based management system which could include its six sigma improvement process.

      So, yes both are compatible and many would say that you should first put in place the organization’s process-based management before investing in six sigma training to turbo-charge the system’s improvement process.

      Cheers,

      John

  5. Sathesh Kumar Says:

    Hi this information is really helpful. I was just wondering whether ISO 9000 is the same as ISO 9001 because ISO 9000 deals with the fundamentals of quality management while ISO 9001 deals with the requirements the organisation is wishing to meet.

    It would really be grateful if you could help me out in this.

    Reference: Wikipedia

    • Needs2Cash Says:

      Sathesh,

      Thank you for your question.

      Lay people often say ISO 9000 when they mean ISO 9001. This is why I compared ISO 9001 with six sigma instead of ISO 9000.

      ISO 9000 guides readers on terminology and discusses quality management systems. From 1987 to 1999, ISO 9000 was considered the “mother standard” to her daughters: ISO 9001, ISO 9002, ISO 9003 and ISO 9004.

      In the year 2000, ISO 9002 and ISO 9003 were merged with ISO 9001. And in 2015 we can expect to see terminology defined in ISO 9001. I am not sure if ISO 9000 has much of a future but lay people may still say ISO 9000 when they mean ISO 9001.

      Best wishes,

      John

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