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ISO 9004:2009 The Companion Document

– its here, but what took it so long?

ISO 9004 is the Guidance document that assists organizations interpret and apply the requirements of the quality management ISO 9001 Standard. This companion document has just been revised and published.

Upon reading it my first thought was, this should have been released back in 2000.  With its talk of sustained success, strategy and policy formulation and deployment, financial resources, knowledge, information and technology, and innovation & learning, it would be far more appropriate to accompany the heavy-hitting 2000 revision of the ISO 9001 Standard rather than on the heels of the new lack-luster 2008 revision.

One of the most notable changes in the 2000 revision was the use of the term ‘Top Management’. The need for these individuals to be involved in setting the policy, objectives, roles and responsibilities and reviewing the management system.

The first thing that occurred to me when I read the Standard back in the year 2000, was that this group of people are only going to be engaged if there is more to ‘it’ than reviewing a few quality documents (please excuse my flippancy and over simplification!!).

Seriously though, to engage this group the policy has to be broader than purely quality goals, otherwise we were asking the company to establish multiple, certainly overlapping and possibly conflicting intents (quality, strategic, financial).  Why would a company in its right mind do that?  Instead there had to be one statement or policy that encompasses all.

However, having a great mission statement that told people exactly what to strive for was all well and good, but it had to be actionable. Having measurable objectives that supported the company’s mission statement enabled the organization to think through how they were going to achieve their mission, and also how to measure whether they are being successful. To be complete, and support all facets of this all-encompassing mission statement, the objectives had to include financial, operational, customer and learning and growth (people) measures. Aren’t these all important to the sustained success and long-term viability of any organization?

Here we are in 2010 and the most recent changes to ISO 9001 have been minimal, largely cosmetic and very under-whelming. Conversely, the changes to the guidance document (ISO 9004) are significant, addressing high impact subjects, so has it been lost on someone’s hard drive for the last nine years?

Seriously, while the new Standard disappoints me, I take some reassurance from the companion document.  It encourages organizations to develop management systems that tie in and meet quality, financial and strategic objectives making truly effective and sustain improvement.

For other opinions on this subject visit the CapablePeopleBlog



  shaun wrote @

Thanks for the link Lindsay. But do you think it can really be called a companion document any more? The scope of ISO 9001 and 9004 diverge in a number of areas, and I’m not even sure 9004 uses the normative references in the same way

Truth is I have asked this question many times already, and I actually know the answer. No-one knows

  getiso wrote @

Thanks Shaun – its has to be a companion document, unless companies can become certified to it. I believe even more that every company thinking of implementing ISO 9001 needs to take a look at ISO 9004 and ask themselves do we want to implement a quality management system or do we want to drive our strategy, financial, operational, environmental, quality, safety and learning and growth goals through a single operating system that meets the ISO 9001 requirements?

I agree with you its hard to think of it as a companion, especially when customer and registration agency auditors tell companies “we aren’t interested in marketing, sales or financial processes and all we care about in your mission statement is that it should mention quality”. – urghhh! don’t get me started !!!

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