Quality Certification Systems and Quality Awards

Quality Certification Systems and Quality Awards

The core of attention of quality certification systems has been to facilitate organizations and keep them focused on quality management in all aspects of activities such as quality improvement, lower cost, and increased profitability. These awards have been instituted to recognize the winners in the quality improvement activities.

Although many companies are found to be in the race to institute quality awards in India, the two most prestigious quality awards are the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award (USA) and the Deming Prize (Japan).

An Introduction to ISO

To increase competitiveness and decrease costs, companies need to implement quality programs. Total quality systems are no longer an option. Rather, they are a must. “The emphasis on customer satisfaction and continuous quality improvement has necessitated a system of standards and guidelines that supports the quality philosophy”.

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) developed a set of standards, ISO 9000-9004. This international organization is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland with 148 countries on the basis of one member per country. It was established in 1947 to promote the development of international standards for quality systems.

ISO develops voluntary technical standards that add value to all types of business operations. ISO is a non-governmental organization because its members are not national government delegations.

Many of its member institutes are part of the governmental structure of their countries or are mandated by their government. Other members have their roots uniquely in the private sector, having been set up by national partnerships of industry associations.

Because of the simple rules and regulations, International Standards Certification is easy to understand, but it is difficult when the rules and standards have to be applied to the individual organization or to a particular part of the organization.

When a company becomes ISO certified, it means that the company has been successful in becoming registered after an assessment process.

ISO Standard

An ISO standard is a documented international standard that carries the ISO logo and the designation “International Standard”. When an industry or business sector feels the need for a standard, it communicates the requirements to one of ISO’s national members.

The member country then proposes the new work item to ISO. If accepted, the work item is assigned to an existing technical committee. The focus of the technical committees is specialized and specific.

Based on the recommendations of the technical committee, ISO launched the development of new standards for which there is clearly a market requirement.

ISO has three general policy development committees along with the technical committee. They provide strategic guidance for the standards’ development work on cross-sectional aspects.

They are CASCO (Conformity Assessment); COPOLCO (Consumer Policy); and DEVCO (Developing Country Matters). These committees help to ensure that the specific technical work is aligned with broader market and stakeholder group interests.

ISO Quality Systems

A system of guidelines and standards that support the TQM philosophy has become a necessity because of placing greater importance on customer satisfaction and continuous quality improvement.

To fulfill this requirement, some unique standards have been developed which have become popular worldwide. The credit goes to the International Organization for Standardization. The standards are: ISO 9000, 9001, 9002, 9003, 9004, and 14000.

1. ISO 9000 Quality Standards

A set of standards leading to the requirements for documentation of a quality program is known as ISO 9000 standards. In other words, ISO 9000 is a collection of international standards which are independent of any specific industry or economic sector.

When a company complies with ISO 9000, it indicates to customers that the company would be able to provide documentation to support whatever claims they make about quality.

But it does neither indicate anything about the actual quality of a product nor specify how a firm should implement the elements of quality systems. The 9000 family simply describes what elements quality systems should contain.

Classification of ISO 9000

  1. ISO 9001: It is related to design, development, production, installation and servicing. It is applicable to companies that are involved in the designing of products to their final production.
  2. ISO 9002: It is related to production and installation. It is applicable to those companies that produce products on the basis of customers’ specifications. Apparel manufacturers that are export-oriented follow this standard.
  3. ISO 9003: It is related to final inspection and test.
  4. ISO 9004: It is related to guidelines in quality management that should be considered in establishing and maintaining an effective quality system.

2. ISO 14000 Environment Management Systems

The ISO 14000 family consists of standards relating to environmental management systems and others, which are specific tools for realizing environmental policy and achieving objectives and targets.

After the success of the ISO 9000 series of quality standards, the International Organization for Standardization developed in 1996 a comprehensive set of standards for environmental management, known as ISO 14000.

This set of standards covers environmental issues for organizations in the global marketplace. The purpose of this standard is to provide industries with a structure for a universal and international environmental management system of standards and guidelines.

Basic Requirements for Certification

To avail of the ISO certification, there are four basic requirements;

  1. Documentation: To carry out every activity, required procedures must be developed. The assessment process examines the following documents:
  2. Administrative procedures
  3. Audit and inspection procedures at the final audit stage
  4. Design releases
  5. Failure or non-compliance reports
  6. Instrumentation testing
  7. List of machinery, Equipment, and facilities
  8. Material handling and storage procedures
  9. Organizational chart with personnel assignments
  10. Procedures Manual
  11. Purchase orders
  12. Quality Manual
  13. Work instructions
  14. Performance: Performance focuses on the requisite use of documentation as working tools and procedures for accomplishing the specified work.
  15. Verification: It means that all the concerned parties accept the accepted procedures.
  16. Filing: It indicates that all procedures are written down, kept updated, retained, and are available to all personnel who have a need to consult these.

ISO Certification and Islam

Islam recognizes the significance of records in all activities of an organization. In the Holy Qur’an, Allah (SWT) says, “Nay verily record of the Righteous is (preserved) in Illiyun. And what will explain to what ‘Illiyun is? (There is) a Register (fully) inscribed, to which bear witness those Nearest (to Allah),” (al-Qur’an, 83:18-21).

These verses are the evidence that every act (right and wrong) of man is recorded for judgment in the hereafter.

A record of processes and procedures (manual) is deemed necessary to have consistency in the quality of the way we do it. This answer paved the way to setting a standard.

The Prophet’s performance level is a standard for consistently performing prayers among Muslims. Documents are vital to elaborate on the quality management system, which is crucial in yielding products and services of high quality and standard.

As mentioned by Sayyidina ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, this fact is reckoned in Islam: ‘A truth without a system will be defeated by a bogus but with a system.’

Part II: The Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award (USA)

In the United States, the strategic importance of quality control and improvement has been formally recognized through the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.

In 1987; the US Congress approved the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Improvement Act, and thus established an annual quality award in the US. The aim of the award is to encourage American firms to improve quality, satisfy customers, and improve overall firms’ performance and capabilities.

The model framework can be used to assess firms’ current quality management practices, benchmark performance against key competitors and world-class standards, and improve relations with suppliers and customers.

Who are Eligible for the Award8

Organizations that are headquartered in the United States, including U.S. subunits of foreign organizations, may apply for the award.

To be eligible, your organization must:

  • have existed for at least one year,
  • have the operational practices associated with all of its major organizational functions available for examination in the United States or its territories and
  • be able to share information on the seven Criteria categories at your organization’s U.S. facilities and The Quest for Excellence® Conference.

Awards are made annually to US companies that excel in quality management and quality achievement. Business organizations, especially for-profit businesses located in the United States or its territories, are eligible to apply for the award

There are five types of organizations that are under the eligibility criteria such as manufacturers, service companies, small businesses, education organizations, and healthcare organizations.

In October 2004, President Bush signed legislation that authorized NIST to expand the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award Program to include non-profit and government organizations.


This category includes companies that sell manufactured products and companies that produce mining, agricultural, or construction products such as forestry, building, food and tobacco, apparel, chemicals, petroleum refining, machinery/computer equipment, and transportation.


That Companies produce or sell services are under the service category such as agricultural services, transportation, communications, utilities, automobile dealers and service stations, banking and insurance, real estate, hotels and lodging places, personal business services, health and legal services and recreation centers.

Small Business

According to Baldrige Award provisions, a company is considered a small business which has no more than 500 full-time employees and which functions independently of any other businesses that are equity owners. Small businesses may be either in the manufacturing or service activity.

Education Institutions

This Category includes for-profit and not-for-profit public, private, and government organizations, and some subunits that provide education services.

For example, elementary and secondary schools, colleges, universities and university systems, schools or colleges within universities, professional schools, community colleges, and technical schools.

Health Care Organizations

Organizations providing health care services in the US or its territories.

Award Eligibility Criteria and Categories

The eligibility criteria are as follows:

  1. A company or its subsidiary is eligible only if the quality practices of its major business functions are inspectable in the United States or its territories.
  2. At least 50% of a subsidiary’s customer base (dollar volume for products and services) must be free of direct financial and line organization control by the parent company.
  3. Individual units or partial aggregations of units of ‘chain’ organizations (such as hotels, retail stores, banks, or restaurants) are not eligible.
  4. Subsidiaries performing any of the business support functions of the company are not eligible. Examples of business support functions include sales/marketing/distribution, customer service, finance and accounting, human resources, purchasing, legal services and research and development.