‘A Longitudinal Study of ISO 9000 Contribution towards TQM in the Greek industry’ (Gotzamani, Theodorakioglou, Tsiotras, 2006), looks to examine how the success of ISO 9001 for companies goes beyond the requirements of the standard and its certification. Most importantly, how the long-term success of the standard depends ‘rather on the reasons why and the ways in which these requirements are implemented’.
This research us based on two surveys. The initial survey asked for: motives for certification; contribution the standard makes to TQM; overall operational and other benefits of certification. The survey was sent to 148 Greek certified Greek organisations, of which 84 (57%) returned them.
After three years, the second survey was sent, asking organisations to reevaluate their performance against eight TQM measures. Almost all responded (82 of the original 84 respondents)
The results of the first survey showed ‘The most important contribution for the organisations after certification was process management, achieved by increasing systematic documentation and control of critical processes and product quality and by adopting more preventative process management methods and techniques.’ Certification also helped with the generation, management and use of quality data.
As regards customers, certification proved useful in complaint handling and using this for quality improvement. Certification also helped with supplier management, with supplier quality assuming a greater importance in supplier selection over simple cost and time.
Relative to TQM, certification helped most with product quality. Overall, the first survey’s results verified certification to ISO 9000 as the first step to TQM, but noted that to strive for TQM meant that the initial push and results from ISO 9000 certification needed to be continued – ‘the start of any company’s journey’, the first not the last step.
The second survey showed almost identical levels of performance (in the TQM factors), though significant improvements were seen in employee related factors. Some negatives were seen in the area of supplier management, but these were seen as implementation issues as organisations tried to implement better relationships with their supply chain.
As a stepping stone to TQM, the surveys’ results ‘prove that although the standards’ implementation helps companies to achieve an initial improvement in their quality performance, it cannot guarantee that this improvement will continue after certification’. Research suggests the best way forward from ISO 9000 certification to TQM is to focus on external issues such as customer satisfaction and internal measures of efficiency. This is best implemented by focusing on issues of implementation such as leadership, employee participation, empowerment and customer relations.
NB – the conclusion of this research notes that this was based on the 1994 version of ISO 9000 and the revised 2000 version lend greater support to the need for continuous improvement.
University of Macedonia, Thessaloniki, Greece – Gotzamani, Theodorakioglou, Tsiotras