How the ISO 9001 quality standard has evolved over time

09 June 2021 2 min. read

Since its establishment in the 1940’s, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has grown into the world’s leading international body for setting technical, industrial, and commercial standards. Experts from UAE-based UCS discuss the rise of ISO 9001 and how it can help organisations improve and set themselves apart.

The history of ISO 9001 dates back to World War II, when there was persistent need for faster warships building as a result of the increase in demand. To do so, ships started to be built by producing their pieces first, measure them based on predefined measurements and then put these pieces together to make the warships. This measuring procedure helped develop the first military specifications called MIL-SPECS.

Later, quality standards were added to the specifications and this ultimately led to the introduction of MIL-Q9858. This standard was then updated to AQAPs: Allied Quality Assurance Publications, and it became a pre-requisite for doing business with the military. 

How the ISO 9001 quality standard has evolved over time

As cross-border trade continued to grow, the need for an internationally accepted set of criteria grew as well, and this formed the basis of the now well-known ISO 9000 standards. The standards focus on seven main quality management principles: customer focus, leadership, involvement of people, process approach, continual improvement, factual approach to decision making, and mutually beneficial supplier relationships. 

Since its launch, ISO 9001 has evolved into a critical global management standard for doing business around the world, focused on quality management governance and systems. As of the start of 2020, over one million certificates were issued in 180+ countries.

Key benefits

Beyond proving compliance with a global standard, one of the common goals of ISO 9001 is to help organisations improve their customer satisfaction (without a consistent focus on the quality of their products/services organisations can’t provide the best possible product/service).

Another common objective lies in the commercial space, with many organisations using ISO 9001 to help them win more tenders and contracts and improve their reputation in the marketplace, with the standard providing an independent merit for quality adherence.

Further, ISO 9001 can be an important driver of continuous improvement, with the standard outlining the steps which need to be taken to remain at the forefront of quality and ensuring that lessons learned are continuously embedded back into processes and systems through a non-stop loop. 

Universal Certification & Services (UCS) is an Ajman-based quality management consultancy and accreditation company. The firm is a specialist in ISO standards, including ISO 9001, ISO 14001, ISO 45001, OHSAS 18001, ISO 50001, ISO 27001, ISO 22301 and more.