ISO 9001 or BS 5750 – Horses For Courses?

In 1994 BS 5750 was replaced by ISO 9001, not a huge leap – still a standard very much driven by procedures & many would say Bureaucracy. In 2000 the ISO 9001 standard had its biggest change, became less prescriptive & more Process Driven. This was seen by the majority as a breath of fresh air! For previous standards if you wrote a procedure & created a form for everything you did – you could easily be certified to the standards. This often made it bureaucratic, onerous, said little of how you actually managed your business & contributed even less to improving your exisisting systems.

Along no doubt with many other consultancies, we have spent years convincing potential clients that the new 9001 process based systems need no longer by onerous & should not only be integral to normal good management practises, but provide a serious tool for improvement.

It therefore came as a bit of a shock when I received the below email –

“Do you have previous working experience of the BS5750 standards, assuming you would be the auditor, if we decided to go ahead? My manager has concerns about how slack ISO 9001 appears compared to BS5750. BS5750 is the level of standard he is looking for.”

“Horses for Courses” – The difference with the new 9001 standard is that you can choose how ridged your processes need to be, the amount of procedural content that would benefit you & how much paperwork you need to generate. With BS 5750 bureaucracy was almost inevitable….current 9001 gives you both Choice & Flexibility.

So although a surprise the email raised a valid point – ensure your Consultant or Quality Representative understands the level of control & flexibility your business requires.