There are so many standards, which one is right for your organization? ISO 9001, ISO 14000, QS9000, are just a few standards that an organization may use as a framework for their management system. The selection process always starts with what is the greatest current need. When a customer inquires about the product do they also ask you if your company meets any management system standards? If they do, that would be the first priority for your customers and therefore for you as well. You may also inquire as to what standards your customers need to comply with. Keeping an eye on the competition and industry trends may get you the lead start ahead of your competition. Then of course you could be the first in your industry to achieve these prestigious registrations and show leadership to your clients.
If you do not have any external need for implementing the standards then you would start with the most general standard ISO 9001:2000 Quality Management System Requirements. It has basic requirements related to organizing a management system. ISO9001:2000 is the basis for many other sector specific standards
Once you have implemented the ISO 9001:2000 standard you will reach for systemizing other aspects of your organization. ISO 14001 Environmental Management Systems could be a next standard on your list of achievements. This standard becomes more critical for companies that either their products or services, or the process in producing these products could impact the environment. As we are becoming more concious of the impact the environment might have on current and future, we are placing higher demands on government agencies to ensure that companies are acting responsibly. The implementation of this standard could help companies ensure that they meet the everchanging legal and regulatory requirements.
Growing lawsuit settlements may concern you. OHSAS 18001 gives you a guideline for implementing Occupational Health and Safety Standard within the overall management system. This standard is compatible with ISO9001 and ISO14001, and it would make it a logical step to follow.
Companies that manufacture products outside of US may need to consider SA 8000 Social Accountability Standard. This standard relates to aspects like child labor, forced labor, health and safety, freedom of association, discrimination,etc. American consumers may quickly loose interest in your product if they find out that it was produced under these conditions.
There are other standards that are based on the ISO 9000 family but add requirements that relate to their type of business. QS9000 is the automotive version of the standard which is now converted to ISO/TS 16949:2002 Technical Specification addressing global automotive requirements. AS 9100 is an international aerospace standard for those who produce products used by aerospace industry. If your company products or services are related to telecommunication services take good look at TL 9000. ISO 13485 relates to suppliers of medical devices, and so on.
If you cannot decide which standard is the most imortant to your organization, start with ISO-9001:2000. It is the basic foundation for all the other standards and will make the implementation of the other standards much simpler. Once your organization goes through the ISO 9001 registration process the other standards will not have the same incremental impact. Selecting the right standards for your company may have a significant cost impact on the organization. If it's not clear to you ask Grizmo or consult with a registrar that specializes in registration to these standards.
Familiarize yourself with standards requirements and start implementing parts that you need the most. Where to start? You're here already.