ISO 9004 2009 Plain English Introduction

ISO 9004 is a quality management standard. It was first
published in 1994, updated in 2000 and again in 2009. This
current version was officially published on November 1, 2009
and is the third edition of the ISO 9004 standard. It cancels and
replaces all previous editions.

ISO 9004 defines a set of quality management guidelines or
recommendations (Parts 4 to 9). We refer to them as guidelines
or recommendations because they’re voluntary. They’re not
requirements or contractual obligations. They’re suggestions
only. They apply to all types of organizations. It doesn’t matter
what size they are or what they do. Any organization can benefit
from following ISO’s quality management recommendations.

In the past, ISO 9004 contained the ISO 9001 standard and
used the same numbering system. They were designed to be
used as “a consistent pair of standards on quality management”.
Now the link between ISO 9001 and ISO 9004 has been broken.
ISO 9004 now seems to be heading off in a new direction.

The purpose of the new ISO 9004 standard is to help
organizations to achieve sustained success by using a
quality management approach. This is a departure from
earlier versions and is a major change in focus.

In the past, the ISO 9004 standard was used either to go
beyond ISO 9001 in order to improve performance or to
help implement ISO 9001. Now the link with ISO 9001
has largely been broken.

The new ISO 9004 standard seems to have become a success
management standard. Sustained success is now the goal of the
standard. According to ISO 9004, organizations can achieve this
goal by using a quality management approach.

There’s now a means-end relationship between success
and quality. Success is the end to be achieved and quality
management is the approach or means that is used to
achieve this end.

According to the new ISO 9004 2009, an organization achieves
sustained success when it meets its objectives and continues to
do so over the long term. It further says that objectives can only
be achieved if the organization consistently meets the needs
and expectations of its interested parties (stakeholders).

While ISO 9001 focuses on meeting the needs of customers,
ISO 9004 goes beyond this and talks about meeting the needs
of all interested parties (which includes not only customers but
also shareholders, suppliers, partners, regulators, employees,
unions, bankers, owners, and society in general). This is a far
broader and more outward looking perspective.


Overview of the ISO 9004 2009 Quality Standard

Plain English Quality Management Definitions

ISO 9004 2009 Translated into Plain English

ISO 9004 2009 Compliance Audit Program

Also see the NEW ISO 9001 2015 Quality Management Standard.

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Updated on January 12, 2015. First published on April 30, 2010.

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