Can Lean and ISO 9001 be integrated?

Posted on January 20, 2012 by


In a word: yes. However, you must take care; from Wikipedia:

  • ISO 9000 guidelines provide a comprehensive model for quality management systems that can make any company competitive.”
  • “A survey by Lloyd’s Register Quality Assurance indicated ISO 9000 increased net profit… Another Deloitte-Touche survey reported that the costs of registration were recovered in three years.”
  • “Good business judgment is needed to determine its proper role for a company.”
  • “The ISO registration process has become a mountain of paperwork. Opponents claim that it is only for documentation. Proponents believe that if a company has documented its quality systems, then most of the paperwork has already been completed.”
  • “Registration… unfortunately has become a vehicle to increase consulting services… Studies show that the majority of certifications derive from customer demands, such as a vendor qualification checklist, instead of internal needs to improve quality.”
  • “Is certification itself important to the marketing plans of the company? If not, do not rush to certification.”
  • “Even without certification, companies should utilize the ISO 9000 model as a benchmark to assess the adequacy of its quality programs.”

Properly implemented ISO9001 provides for the success of Lean programs with provisions for:

  • Management vision, direction, authorization and involvement
  • Resource evaluation and application, inclusive of personnel qualification and training, processes, etc.
  • Planning functions
  • Qualification and control of designs, technologies, processes, materials, products and services
  • Review and analysis of results, application of decision-making processes and initiation of needed changes.

The intent of ISO 9001 is to improve business processes. Lean tools are process-focused and provide the means to remove non-value activities from both the manufacturing and transactional processes. It helps improve the efficiency of the organization, its operations and its economic performance as well as the quality of its products and services. ISO 9001:2000 item 8.5.1, continual improvement, states that; “organizations shall continually improve the effectiveness of the quality management system.” A key requirement to comply with this clause, the organization must develop a process to measure, monitor and continually reduce process and product variation (evaluated by process sigma levels). Kaizen” translates into “Continual Improvement” and by reduces waste and non-value added activities. Infact, Pheng argues that the integration of ISO 9001:2000 requirements with 5-S would lead towards TQM (PHENG, L.S. (2001) Towards TQM: integrating Japanese 5-S principles with ISO 9001:2000 requirements. TQM Magazine. Vol 13, No 5. pp.334-340.).

Has your implementation of ISO9001 helped your Lean efforts?

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