Nonsensical ISO Quality Management System Certifications

Autor: Prof. Dr.-Ing. Dr.h.c.* Dieter Deublein (Aidewise GmbH) *granted by Amansholov University Öskemen

Most ISO quality management system certifications are nonsensical. Such nonsensical certifications should not be tackled or stopped as soon as possible. The money saved should be invested in the development of new products and markets.

In some cases, especially when it comes to safety and traceability, certifications are regulated by law and the manner of certification is prescribed. It is actually pointless to criticise this. However, the certification companies should nevertheless consider whether these certifications really achieve their goals. Press reports show that this is sometimes not the case. It may be that the rules can still be clarified on a case-by-case basis.

For the most part, certifications take place in the legally unregulated area, in which associations, powerful certification companies and large industrial groups lay down the rules and interpret the standards. The ISO standards leave considerable scope for interpretation. The focus of the quality management system audits is on the flawlessness of products and services. It is interesting to note that very few large corporations are themselves ISO-certified.

Medium-sized companies have no influence and are forced to get certified if they do not want to lose their customers. Otherwise, these companies have no added value and are more likely to be disadvantaged by bureaucracy. Accordingly, they are rather reluctant when it comes to the rules imposed on them.

ISO quality management certificates stand for the flawlessness of the products, but not for innovation. In the long run, such nonsensical certifications will lead to the disappearance of German medium-sized companies, known for their innovative strength, from the market. The large industrial groups only notice this when it is too late.  

In the case of nonsensical ISO certifications, auditors without management experience certify on behalf of certification companies that standards are adhered to. But standards are not laws at all, they are standards. Standards can be more or less pronounced. According to the new ISO standards (edition 2015), companies are free to set their own standards and to regulate what should happen if they deviate from them. These ISO quality management certificates are therefore not meaningful at all.

The duration of the audit is specified by the associations in audit days. It is too long. This is demonstrated by the fact that the auditor arrives on the first audit day in the evening and leaves on the last audit day in the morning. All the documented information is checked on site, as if quality were related to the way the documentation was prepared.

Audit reports are far too formalistic: the audit report on the left shows the relevant section of the standard. On the right, the auditor next to it writes "fulfilled", "not fulfilled", "recommendation:". Such comments are neither useful for the certified company nor for the certification company.

It is not the auditor who has been able to get an idea of the error management in the company, but the certification company decides on the granting of a certificate on the basis of the Audit