[This series of articles tries to emphasize the benefits of ISO 9001, and how to yield results from each major clause of the standard.]
Clause 8.6 is called “Release of Products and Services,” which sounds like it will discuss shipping or delivery. It does not.
For many years, would-be quality “gurus” insisted that ISO was backward because it had clauses on inspection and testing. “You can’t inspect quality into the product,” they insisted, all while misquoting Deming and Crosby and the like. Inspection was never intended to be removed entirely, but instead done smartly, and not made the sole determiner of quality. Proper process management would reduce the need for inspection, but it was never the intent to eradicate it. Deming was not advocating for truncating the PDCA model to only “PD”, and throwing out the “checking” and “acting” steps.
But idiots abound, and ISO needed to placate them so as not to hinder ISO 9001’s sales. So in one of its more Orwellian attempts at language manipulation, ISO simply eliminated the word “inspection” from the standard, and replaced it with some new phrases intended to mean the same thing. Dummies who can’t read well — like this guy — were duped into believing that ISO 9001 no longer requires inspection, while the rest of us weren’t fooled.
So to understand clause 8.6, you must understand that this is about inspection and testing. Notice how the clause is placed between the manufacturing clause (8.5) and the control of nonconforming product clause (8.7.)
And, yes, this applies to service organizations as well.
Because of this attempt to hide its true nature, the clause is needlessly confusing. (See how the Oxebridge Q001 standard fixes this.) The short version is that for manufacturers, you must perform inspection and testing to ensure product requirements are met before delivery. For services, this simply means verifying that your service has met requirements before you conclude or deliver it.
When implemented properly, Clause 8.6 should result in the following tangible benefits for your company:
- You will identify nonconforming products or services before your customer does. It hardly needs saying why this important, but perhaps you merely want to save your company the embarrassment and dings on your reputation. But delivering defectives can lead to crushing recalls, investigations, injury to the public, and more. This is not something you want to happen on your watch.
- You will have records of the inspections and tests, too, so you can prove your case later. If something does go wrong, perhaps it happened after delivery, because of something the customer did! In that case, you’ll need to go back and pull your old inspection and test records to prove it.
- As a follow-on to that notion, records allow you to do number crunching. You can see trends in inspection or test results over time, and perhaps identify a process that is on track to begin to produce nonconformities; now you can correct course before that happens.
Click here for the full series of articles on The Benefits of ISO 9001:2015.
About Christopher Paris
Christopher Paris is the founder and VP Operations of Oxebridge. He has over 30 years' experience implementing ISO 9001 and AS9100 systems, and is a vocal advocate for the development and use of standards from the point of view of actual users. He is the author of Surviving ISO 9001 and Surviving AS9100. He reviews wines for the irreverent wine blog, Winepisser.