The CD Factory
Implementation of ISO9000 Quality Management System from a Consultants Point of View
Ken Sadler and Tara Sadler, Sadler Consulting 


Jenna Hope and Bill Jordan had just arrived for their first meeting with Dave Miller, the 25-year-old President of The CD-Factory. As Quality Assurance consultants, they had worked with a wide range of companies, but none as unique as this one with two pinball machines and hundreds of CDs mounted on the walls in the boardroom. Suddenly, a young man in a T-shirt and jeans burst into the room and extended his hand to Jenna. Despite his causal dress, Dave Miller was all business. The CD-Factory had just completed a successful stock issue, which made Dave Miller an instant millionaire. Miller sat down and began the conversation, “The CD-Factory has been in operation for five years. I began burning audio CDs for friends in indie (independent) bands and for local DJs who mixed their own music. We now have duplication contracts with most of the local recording labels and multimedia companies. We take pride in the service we provide and the product we generate, whether we're duplicating one copy or thousands. Our business plan calls for us to go after large contracts with major recording labels over the next year in order to maintain our growth. When it comes to quality, we don't compromise, but this is also a price sensitive business. Reducing our production costs by a few cents per CD can have a huge impact on our bottom line when you have an order for a million units. Which brings me to why I called you, we don’t have any formal systems in place in terms of quality and so we need help.”

Jenna began, “Quality Management Principles have recently gained extensive global recognition, however companies have used them for over one hundred years. Even early industrialists such as American automotive pioneer Henry Ford recognized the vital role that quality plays in a successful business. He once stated, ‘There is only one rule of business and that is: Make the best quality at the lowest cost possible.’ During the early 1980's these Quality Management Principles were formally referred to as Total Quality Management.”

Dave Miller was quick to ask, “But isn't quality just catching defective products before they get shipped out?” 

Jenna continued, “The International Organization of Standards defines Total Quality Management as: ‘A management approach of an organization, centered on quality, based on the participation of all it’s members and aiming at long-term profitability through customer satisfaction including benefits to the members of the organization and to society. ’It is much more than just identifying defective products.”

“There are five principles of Total Quality Management,” explained Bill Jordan. “These principles are rather basic yet they are occasionally overlooked by those in charge of operations within organizations. They are: 

1. Customer Focus -Taking all steps to identify the customer, understand and translate their needs, and determine how those needs will be met.

2. Meeting Commitments - Ensuring organizational systems are geared toward meeting the customers’ needs.

3. Process Management - In-depth knowledge of organizational processes and their capabilities in meeting the customers’ needs, and how to measure and control them.

4. Employee Empowerment - Tapping into employee potential talent, creativity and knowledge through delegation of and involvement in decision-making, training and education. 

5. Continuous Improvement - Continually improving the capability of processes and systems through the use of problem solving tools and techniques by all employees.”

“OK, I see what you mean, but what about all this ISO stuff?” inquired Dave Miller. 

Looking through some papers, Jenna explained, “ISO 9000 is a series of International standards and guideline documents for Quality Management Systems. The standard establishes the organizational structure and processes required for assuring the production of goods and/or services that meet a consistent and agreed upon level of quality for a company’s customers.

Further, it is an International Standard that is accepted by countries and organizations around the world. It is highly unique in that it applies to a very wide range of organizations and industries including those that manufacture products and those that provide services. 

In the early 1980’s a host of independent Quality Management /Assurance Standards existed throughout the world. This would often produce conflicting demands on producers and therefore created a growing demand for an international standard that would be accepted throughout the world. A true International Quality Management Standard was established in 1987 and it is continuously being improved and revised.  This standard has been accepted in 167 countries throughout the world. More than 350,000 companies and organizations are currently registered to the ISO 9000 series of standards.”

Jenna opened her notepad and removed several pieces of paper. She began to read from the top paper, “The current ISO 9000 Quality Management Standard is based upon eight specific Quality Management Principles.

Principle 1 – Customer-Focused Organization

Organizations depend on their customers and therefore should understand current and future customer needs, meet customer requirements and strive to exceed customer expectations.  

Principle 2 – Leadership

Leaders establish unity of purpose and direction of the organization. They should create and maintain the internal environment in which people can become fully involved in achieving the organization’s objectives.

Principle 3 – Involvement of People

People at all levels are the essence of an organization and their full involvement enables their abilities to be used for the organization’s benefit.

Principle 4 – Process Approach

A desired result is achieved more efficiently when related resources and activities are managed as a process.

Principle 5 – System Approach to Management

Identifying, understanding and managing a system of interrelated processes for a given objective improves the organization’s effectiveness and efficiency.

Principle 6 – Continual Improvement

Continual improvement should be a permanent objective of the organization.

Principle 7 – Factual Approach to Decision Making

Effective decisions are based on the analysis of data and information.

Principle 8 – Mutually Beneficial Supplier Relations

An organization and its suppliers are interdependent, and a mutually beneficial relationship enhances the ability of both to create value.


The process of applying these eight principles during the implementation of the ISO 9000 Quality Management System is crucial to the success of the organization’s attempts to reach their objectives. With the concepts and ideals of Quality Management fully understood and accepted as the company’s mission for success, the company has to select and implement a strategy that will ensure that their goals with regards to Quality Management are achieved.”


Dave Miller looked impressed. “As you can see from our surroundings here at The CD-Factory, we run a very casual shop. Our employees are very important to us and we give them the opportunity to have input into the decision-making. I don’t want them to feel that the implementation of a Quality Management System is a threat.”

“I suggest,” explained Bill, “that you provide all employees with ISO 9000 awareness information. Then, throughout the implementation process, employees should be involved in writing, reviewing and approving the documentation. You can also provide internal audit training and participation to a larger than normal group of employees as well. Finally, after implementation I suggest that you celebrate the registration and participation with all employees.”

“So tell me what are my options in terms of how we can implement a Quality Management System?” asked Dave Miller.

“You have three possible options,” explained Jenna. “First, you could use existing employees to implement the Quality Management System. There are significant benefits with implementation of the quality Management System with existing employees, provided they have an adequate understanding of Quality Management, Project Management and the ISO 9000 Quality Standards. Existing employees will have the best understanding of the current production and service provided by the company and specific knowledge of the processes. It can also be used as a team building exercise. In this situation it is also important that the organization ensure that there is adequate Project Management and knowledge of the ISO 9000 standard. The key to this option is having at least one employee who has the ISO 9000 knowledge and project management skills to ensure a successful implementation.

The second option is to hire someone to facilitate the coordination of developing the Quality Management System in the company. Where there is not adequate knowledge of the ISO 9000 standards and/or Project Management skills within the company they may decide to hire someone as an employee. This provides the company with the expertise they need with ongoing support during the implementation process. This has some of the advantages of using the current employees but providing additional support. A negative aspect may include the ongoing cost associated with the newly hired employee and reaction of existing employees.

The third option is to hire a consultant to provide guidance to your staff during the program development and implementation. Using a consultant in this manner will provide the company with the expertise in Quality Management, Project Management and ISO 9000 standards while taking advantage of the knowledge and participation of the existing employees. It provides for career development of existing employees through greater quality management knowledge.

“I would like to explore the third option as we don’t have very much experience with Quality Management Systems. So where do we go from here?” said Dave Miller.

Jenna Hope responded. “The first step in consulting is to clarify what you specifically want us to do. We should begin with a discussion about the objectives of the project. Can you tell us what you hope to achieve by implementing a Quality Management System?”

“With larger clients and larger orders there is less flexibility in delivery – if we don’t deliver on time, we'll have a hard time winning back a client’s trust. Plus we know that there will be pressure on our margins as we move in to the international market,” said Dave Miller.

Jenna Hope qualified the answer, “So am I correct in stating that you need to have the entire production process assessed to determine the factors contributing to on time delivery performance?”

“Exactly,” said Miller. 

Bill looked at Jenna, “This reminds me of that food products company we worked with last year. They wanted to improve on time delivery by 5% and found cost savings during the implementation process easily justified the cost even prior to registration.”

Jenna then outlined the next step in the process. “I suggest that Bill and I meet with some of your production people so we can learn more about your organization and determine specific well defined goals. We would then develop a proposal containing:

-Introduction: Information about the Project

-Project Objectives

-Project Overview

-Approach and Methodology

-Work Plan and Schedule

-Cost Proposal and Contractual Terms

-Consulting company experience

-Resume or CV's on personnel involved with project.

The proposal is like a contract that once accepted provides the requirements and financial commitment. How does that sound to you?”

Just then the boardroom door opened and in walked Ben Coolen, the Sales Manager for The CD-Factory. “Hey, I'm glad you're still here. I just got a call from Warner Bros. requesting ISO 9000 certification to get on the bidders list. What does all this mean?”

‘I think that we need to move quicker than I thought," said Miller. "What are the steps for implementing ISO 9000?”

Jenna answered the question. “In order to successfully adopt ISO 9000 a planned implementation strategy must be developed. This strategy will act as a road map for the implementation while remaining flexible to encourage and allow for change through management and employee participation. The basic plan for implementation would start with the decision. First, as the consultant, we would ensure that you have clearly made the decision to implement a Quality Management System based upon the ISO 9000 standard and then adequately educate you on the standard itself. Management commitment to the implementation process will help ensure the successful and timely completion of the implementation. In this initial phase the management representative and/or ISO 9000 Quality Coordinator should be selected and their role in the process well defined.

In the second phase of the project, we would provide general awareness training to all employees indicating their required involvement with the implementation process. Awareness training is usually conducted in relatively small groups of 10 to 15 employees per session. This allows employees attending the session to ask questions throughout the session. These sessions are usually between one and two hours in duration. Throughout the entire implementation process we would also provide additional training for the ISO 9000 coordinator. This helps to ensure that the company has someone on staff who can develop and maintain the system after we have completed our work. Internal audit training is also required towards the later stages of the project as it helps ensure greater involvement and development of the Quality Management System in the future.

In the third phase of the process our company and yours would collaborate upon the development of a detailed plan of action. This plan should include both time schedules and specific individual target completion dates. Most of the planning involved in this stage of the process should closely follow the implementation plan provided along with the proposal, as projects that are inadequately planned are often less successful.

A detailed plan frequently includes a Gantt Chart using Microsoft Project or a similar software package. This planning tool can be used not only to illustrate the detailed plan but also to track its implementation. The chart should also be displayed on a wall to keep all employees aware of the progress of the implementation process.

Phase four requires your company to perform an assessment of the current systems. The identification of the current systems, procedures and documentation as well as the responsibilities of the company and individuals achieves this reflection. Focusing on these areas allows for the evaluation and identification of areas of opportunity for significant improvement (i.e. customer problems, late delivery, waste and down grade product, or other quality problems). Having the consultant analyze the current system frequently leads to significant productivity and quality improvements. 

Companies who wish to improve their quality management systems will ensure that there is adequate time spent evaluating their current system prior to proceeding with the documentation. Consultants should be able to suggest improvements to the current system that will result in significant quality related savings. Experienced consultants realize that this is essential to the continuous improvement objective. 

The establishment of standards and performance targets for critical control factors such as on time delivery etc. is one of the major focuses of this phase of the project. Another is to establish implementation procedures at the departmental level. Ensuring employee participation and involvement is important to achieve maximum benefits. Finally, the establishment of over all improved procedures and systems through out the organization should be addressed at this time.

The sixth phase involves the development of the quality manual, procedures, as well as detailed work instructions. Generally, we assist with the development of the quality manual and provide direction on the development of the procedure and work instructions. If the consultant writes the procedure and work instruction the acceptance of the documentation and employee involvement is significantly decreased. The individuals who do the work are in a far better position to describe their work processes. Reporting documentation should also be developed in order to ensure and maintain control and to continuously improve operations within the company.

In the next phase, the procedures and work instructions that were developed in earlier stages of the process are implemented through out the organization at this point. When the employees have been involved in the documentation process the procedures are usually more accurate and accepted immediately. If employees have not been involved implementation can be a significant problem. On-going auditing of the procedures and quality systems should be performed even as the implementation has already proceeded. 

Consultants play a very valuable role ensuring the coordination and guidance in the implementation. Based upon our experience with many such implementations, we can avoid project management problems throughout this process. 

To prepare properly for ISO 9000 registration the company conducts a thorough self-assessment or internal audit of the Quality Manual, Procedures Manuals, work instructions, records, forms, etc. The selection of an appropriate registrar as well as a discussion with this registrar must also occur in this stage of the process. This discussion must include topics such as registration schedule, requirements as well as costs. The purpose of registration is to have a third person verify that your Quality Management System meets the requirements of the standard. Customers may require this registration or it may simply assist to verify the implementation process. 

In the ninth phase, the submission of the Quality Manual and Procedures to the registrar for documentation review must take place. Any and all recommended corrections that develop from the review must be made. We assist with any corrections that are a result of this documentation review. However, since your company has followed our advice these changes are usually minimal. Your company must then submit to an on-site audit and make any and all corrections as recommended by the audit. After all of this has been successfully carried out, The CD-Factory obtains its registration status.

Finally, in order to maintain the level of quality that had to be attained in order to earn registration status continuous improvement of processes, systems, products and profits must be made. Conducting frequent internal checks of changing systems, procedures and profits will help to ensure that registration status is maintained. We help with the continuous improvement process through out the duration of the project. In addition, we try to leave your company in a position where you are capable of obtaining future improvements on your own. The preventative and corrective strategies you will acquire through the process as well as Internal Quality Auditing skills should allow your company to improve on your own.

In our experience, we know that most organizations clearly understand and support the principle of continuous improvement. Those organizations that demonstrate it through their Management Review meetings, Internal Audit process and use of Corrective / Preventive actions are usually more successful.”

Bill Jordan added, “As you can see the implementation of the ISO 9000 Quality Management System in a company is an extremely involved process. In order for a company to achieve optimal results in their implementation and registration, the management and employees must exhibit dedication through involvement and participation in the implementation process. Although we are there throughout the process we cannot perform the implementation for you, we are here mainly to inform, educate and guide the members of your company so that you may complete the process successfully. Employee involvement is vital in the implementation of the ISO 9000 Quality Management System as it is a process that is influenced greatly by their willingness to participate.”

Dave Miller stood up and said, “I would like you to provide a proposal to us for consulting service to assist us on the road to ISO 9000?” 

Jenna and Bill both smiled as they thought that the CD-Factory was going to be an interesting company to work with. 

1. For a company seeking ISO registration, what are the benefits to using a consultant?
2. What roles can consultants perform?
3. What services do consultants provide in the ISO registration process?