refers to measures with which both a customer as well as other interested
parties (stakeholders) are convinced of the fact that the requirements
pertaining to products are met (i.e. external confidence achieved)
and that the organization has reasonable abilities for that. The
essence of good quality assurance is an effective communication.
has to be grounded in the actual practices of systematic quality
management which have been created on the basis of the company's
many instances has been voiced at the fact that the formal implementation
of the ISO 9000 standards has overemphasized or been too deeply
entrenched in quality assurance. In practice this means that only
ISO 9001 standard is used and emphasis is in the third party certification.
In quality assurance between two parties the most natural and sound
approach is to utilize bilateral quality assurance agreements and
related quality assurance plans, for which ISO 9000 provides general
refers to indicating with a certificate that a product or business
activity is in accordance with a specific requirement (standard
or specification). Primarily a certificate relates to a product
and through this also the activities determined to guarantee the
product features. Certifications concerning product quality assurance
typically have the ISO 9000 series quality assurance model (ISO
9001) as a reference standard. This kind of certification does not
ensure the product quality or efficient business performance of
a company, but it is used for the purposes of quality assurance,
that is, to display confidence in the fact that the products which
are being produced meet the stated requirements.
can be done by the company itself (first-party certification or
self-certification), by the second party (customers), or by a third
party (a service company specializing in certifying services). The
most genuine and natural way to proceed is self-certification combined
with self-declaration, which has lately gained interest due to various
flaws associated with third-party certifying. However, self-certification
always requires a strong personal commitment to quality management
from the top management of the company. This is why certifying done
by an external third party can be a sign of weak quality of management.
Certifications made by customers are especially recommended, and
a company should strive towards certifications made by their key
reference customers. With regard to third-party certifications -
should this become oblicatory or necessary in the light of marketing
efforts - it is worthwhile to restrict them to questions pertaining
to safety, health, environmental protection, and product liability.
Serious criticism has been directed at certifications made by third
parties due to the fact that these often entail an emphasis on the
business objectives of the company doing the certifying. This means
commercialization of the certification.
One cannot distinguish
oneself from competitors by leaning on general third party certifications.
On the other hand, product features which take customers into account
as well as product and quality assurance agreements do offer an
opportunity to provide distinct competitiveness to the customer.
This is also the way in which the ISO 9000 standards guide one to
proceed. The certification is not the only way - and never the strongest
- to realize quality assurance. There are also other options based
on the innovative and unique solutions of advanced organizations
and clearly reflecting the needs of a customer. New information
and communication technology (ICT and e-Business) offers very new
challenging means also for quality assurance (e.g. e-Certificate).