ISO 9000 is two things:

  •     A family of quality management and quality assurance standards established by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), and
  •     A standard within that ISO family of standards.

As an ISO standard, ISO 9000:2015 lays the foundation for all the other individual standards within the ISO 9000 family. It contains a glossary of terms used throughout the series of standards as well as the fundamental concepts underpinning the entire ISO 9000 family, including the seven quality management principles:

  •     Customer focus
  •     Leadership
  •     Engagement of people
  •     Process approach
  •     Improvement
  •     Evidence-based decision making
  •     Relationship management

As a family, ISO 9000 comprises several standards related to quality systems:

  •     ISO 9000:2015: Quality Management Systems (QMS) – Fundamentals and Vocabulary
  •     ISO 9001:2015: Quality Management Systems (QMS) – Requirements
  •     ISO 9004:2018: Quality Management – Quality of an Organization – Guidance to Achieve Sustained Success, a standard for continual improvement of quality management systems
  •     ISO 19011:2018: Guidelines for Auditing Management Systems

Found on the ISO website, these standards are valuable for organizations of all sizes and types. They provide guidance for measuring and improving the quality not just of your enterprise’s processes, but also of the products and services you provide.

The most important standard, however, is ISO 9001:2015. Not only is it the most widely-applied of all the standards in the ISO 9000 family–and, in truth, the most popular among all 22,000 ISO standards–but it is the only standard in the group for which an organization can obtain certification.

A Brief History of ISO 9000 

The first in this important family of quality standards, ISO 9000’s history dates back decades before its 1987 debut. During World War II, the British Ministry of Defense became concerned about the number of errors and accidents occurring in munitions plants, and wrote a set of standards for how procedures should be managed. Over time, it became apparent that this approach could work well in other industries, too. In 1979, the British Standards Institution published the  BS 5750, the first quality standard for management systems and the precursor to the ISO 9000 family.

Today, the ISO 9000 standards — in particular, ISO 9001:2015 — are used around the world to improve quality management systems and, in return, the quality of the goods and services that organizations produce and provide. ISO 9001 certification is the most coveted of ISO standards worldwide, considered essential in many industries.