North East Business Leads UK in New Quality Management Standard

PRESS RELEASE

20 February 2003

North East business gains advantage as other companies face possible problems meeting supplier requirements

Companies in the North East are being congratulated on the higher than average take up of the updated international quality management standard, ISO9001:2000, which could give the North East a competitive advantage over other areas of the country.

Leading certification body, BSI Management Services, estimates that 21% of the 3,520 companies in the North East that hold ISO 9000 certificates have transferred to the updated standard. This compares favourably to a national average of under 19%, leaving business in the North East at a distinct advantage over UK and international competitors.

Companies that fail to transfer before the December 2003 deadline will miss out on the clear advantages of ISO 9001:2000 including the potential cost savings that the standard can bring to an organisation. They could also face problems meeting the quality requirements of major customers, many of which specify that suppliers must meet the ISO 9001:2000 standard. This is likely to be particularly true in the manufacturing sector, which remains a significant contributor to the North East's economy.

The International Organisation for Standards (ISO) regularly updates all standards. ISO 9001:2000 was created after feedback from UK business illustrated the shortcomings of the old standard, introduced in 1994. ISO 9001:2000 has three distinct new benefits:

  • less red tape
  • - companies will find it easier to show that they meet the requirements of the updated standard
  • focus on customer satisfaction
  • - the updated standard helps companies ensure that customer satisfaction is central to their operation, making them more competitive
  • more flexible
  • - the updated standard is more flexible, enabling companies to run quality management systems the way that is most relevant to them

Nick Moy of BSI Management Systems, said:

"All standards are updated periodically to ensure that they continue to meet the needs of business and deliver real benefits. As business evolves, standards must evolve with it and ISO 9001 is no exception. The standard was changed to benefit those companies certified to it; it is less bureaucratic than the old standard and focuses more on customer satisfaction. The updated standard could be of real benefit to companies from the North East but they risk missing out if they don't transfer from the old standard"

The old standard ISO 9001/2/3:1994 was criticised as bureaucratic, inflexible and focused on providing fixed standards rather than encouraging continuous improvement of quality.

The main difference between the old and the updated standard involves the manner in which management systems are to be implemented. ISO 9001/2/3:1994 required that a company met its requirements by showing that it undertook a set of distinct activities to safeguard quality. ISO 9001:2000 however encourages that these systems are interactive and provide feedback:

  • under ISO 9001/2/3:1994 a company did not need to show that it had a customer complaints/comments system
  • under ISO 9001:2000 it has to show that not only does it have a system to record comments but that these comments are fed back in and acted upon, helping to improve overall quality of the product or service and increase customer satisfaction.

Companies requiring further information should contact BSI Management Systems helpdesk on 020 8996 7720.

- Ends -

For more information:

Wilma Tulloch on +44 (0)20 8996 6330 OR
Marc Edney on +44 (0)20 8996 6330
Notes to editors:

BSI Group

Founded in 1901 the BSI Group is an international provider of services to businesses and other organisations. Through provision of standards and technical information, systems assessment, product testing and commodity inspection services, BSI supplies vital third-party services that enable its customers to trade effectively and to improve their operations and products. In 2001 the Group's turnover was £235 million ($350 million).

The BSI Group's businesses are British Standards, Management Systems (quality systems certification, including ISO 9000 Quality Management, ISO 14000 Environmental Management and BS 7799 Information Security), Business Information, Product Services and Inspectorate, the leading independent inspection and analysis company that joined the BSI Group in 1998. BSI Product Services laboratories are based in Hemel Hempstead, UK while Inspectorate's main offices are in Witham, UK and Houston, Texas. Following the 2002 purchase of the North American systems assessment business of KPMG BSI is now the largest management systems certification company in the USA. BSI Management Systems is based in Reston, Virginia. In 2001, a regional headquarters was opened in Hong Kong to service the BSI Management Systems network of offices in the Asian-Pacific region. The Kitemark was first registered as the British Standards mark in 1903.

International Standards Organisation

What is ISO?

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is a worldwide federation of national standards bodies from more than 140 countries, one from each country.

ISO is a non-governmental organization established in 1947. The mission of ISO is to promote the development of standardization and related activities in the world with a view to facilitating the international exchange of goods and services, and to developing cooperation in the spheres of intellectual, scientific, technological and economic activity.

ISO's work results in international agreements which are published as International Standards.