Understanding ISO standards

The present development strategies throughout the world demands formal quality management system as a necessary attribute for any business. The main objective of quality management system is to ensure that the management system to be proficient
  • Professionally
  • Operationally
  • Commercially
  • Contractually
When talking about the history of evolution of quality management systems; a large number of national standards were developed as a part of quality assurance in 1970s in the area of manufacturing, military and in industries. Later this was extended to service industries and professional organization.
But it was difficult to implement in the services that were granted by the building professionals like the engineers, architects, quantity surveyors. As it is not related to a product that is obtained from a manufacturing unit.
In order to develop formal quality management systems in construction industry, quality assurance and related are registered with certified bodies. They seek third party certification based on the ISO 9000 quality standards.
Among the ISO standards, the most relevant quality management system to be implemented in the case of a building professional is the ISO 9001. For contracting organizations, ISO 9002 is more relevant.
ISO 9000 in Construction Industry

Understanding ISO standards

The quality management systems comprise the following standards.
1. ISO 9000: This section gives the guidance to select and use the Quality management and quality assurance standards
2. ISO 9001: This standard section helps in specifying quality assurance in different production stages. These stages include design, development, production, installing and the final service.
3. ISO 9002: This specifically deal with the quality assurance in the production and installation stage of the task.
4. ISO 9003: Quality assurance in the final stage i.e. the final inspection and testing stage is guided by the standard.
5. ISO 9004: Quality management and quality system elements is dealt by this standard. This form the last part of the ISO 9000 series.
The ISO 9000 standard helps in documenting quality procedures by providing accepted accounting principles.
Generally, the certification is given for two quality standards for a constructionorganization. They are:

Certification to ISO 9001

This certificate is provided for companies who carry out design activities as the major business operation. These companies carry out the design, development, production, installation and the final servicing.

Certification to ISO 9002

These are provided for the companies that does not carry out design activities. This includes production and installation.
There are twenty different areas a company have to focus and pass in order to get certified as a ISO 9001 certified company.

Interpretation of ISO 9001

To get a construction industry ISO certified, the following 20 requirements determined by the standard must satisfied:
  1. Management Responsibility
  2. Quality System
  3. Review of Contracts
  4. Control of Design
  5. Control of Documents
  6. Purchasing
  7. Purchaser Supplied Product
  8. Identification of Product and the traceability
  9. Process Control
  10. Inspection and the testing
  11. Inspection, measurement and equipment testing
  12. Status of Inspection and the test
  13. Control of products that are non-conforming
  14. Corrective action
  15. Handling, storing, packaging and the delivery
  16. Quality records
  17. Internal quality system auditing
  18. Training
  19. Servicing
  20. Statistical Techniques

Management Responsibility

A clear idea on the quality policy must be stated by the firm to the management. Well defined responsibilities and duties must be established on the staff members who are involved in the quality management.
The management must also ensure that for the verification of the performance activities, the resources and the personnel are available when needed.
The quality manager must be given the right and authority by top management to bring up decision that will affect the quality of the services that is carried out within the organization.
The continuing suitability and the effectiveness of the organization is ensured by having periodic review of the quality system of the firm.

Quality System

The quality system practiced and to be practiced must be documented in the organization. This help in ensuring that the services are carried out properly and consistently.
The documentation of the quality system includes the following:
  • The policy manual
  • Manual for general procedure
  • Management procedure manual
  • Technical Procedure manual
  • Other document that specifies details of brief services that have influence in the quality system

Review of Contracts

This requirement forces the firm to make a project plan. This must undergo periodic project reviews which help in having service that accord with the client’s current contractual, administrative and the financial requirements.
This help in the service to be compatible, clearly defined and documented. Pre-planning of the service is made which ensures the adequate resources and the support.

Control of Design

The design services and other work taken by the firm includes:
  • Services to be provided are identified along with the identification of initial procurement and the advice for contract.
  • The contractual and the financial administrative arrangements of the project are determined
  • For the performance and verification of services maintenance and the procedure for operating must be provided
Other areas of concern will include are in the:
  • Service design and the development planning. Every project must have a project plan specifying the number of staffs and the responsible performance for each activity. Every key project decision has to be identified.
  • All internal and external data that are considered for the project developed is marked and documented as project data. Ambiguities and conflicting requirements are resolved.
  • The work procedure and the documentation in the standard form will influence the preparation of project organization proposals.
  • Qualified and experienced staffs will carry out the verification process of the service design.
  • Any change in the service design have to be identified and documented. All change must undergo a review. They are accepted only after formal verification and approval.

Control of Documents

An approved format of the quality system and the related documents must be presented. This will enable in:
  • Identifying and monitoring the service with respect to status
  • The issuing and controlling will be done through approved persons
  • Prior to the issue, it will review for appropriateness
These quality documents can be issues and made available for the staff members who are involved the quality management system. The documents that are obsolete will be removed immediately.


In situations, necessary for special work requirements, a firm shall maintain a register of specialist firm. Based on which personnel can be appointed based on the ability to provide the required service.
The documents relating to the subcontractors can have the details of such specialist firms. The document will include:
  • The work scope which is to be undertaken
  • The performance level standards
  • Quality control expected from the specialty subcontractors

Purchaser Supplied Product

Details regarding the information given by the client, agents, and the consultants must be recorded by the firm. This include the instructions, drawings, specification, minutes of meetings, schedules etc.

Identification of Product and the traceability

A standardized system to identify, revise and control the project documents must be maintained by the firm. The project documents must be stored such that easy retrieval and traceability is possible.

Process Control

The firm must ensure that the activities that conforms to the quality is done based on the documented work procedures that is implemented by the firm. For special activities, continuous monitoring must be carried out.

Inspection and the testing

This is dealt with the documents that are provided by the other organizations. These documents must be verified as per the client supplied information. The work carried out by the firm must be verified at predetermined stages of the project

Inspection, measurement and equipment testing

The inspection and the testing of the measuring equipment must be conducted in the sound condition. This must be done with utmost accuracy to ensure the quality in the service.

Status of Inspection and the test

Inspection and the examination of the documents and the service that are provided must be done at every stage of the project.

Control of products that are non-conforming

Those work that is non-conforming must be identified. Those document that do not comply with the requirements specifies have to be prevented.

Corrective action

Wherever a deficiency is identified there must be certain procedures that have to be maintained by the firm to correct it. There must be a means to review any sort of non conformance “feedback” system in the construction organization.

Handling, storing, packaging and the delivery

The products that are outgoing must be properly addressed. They must show no chances to bring any damage.

Quality records

The firm must have the following storage of:
  • Project information that will include all the project quality record that is meant to meet the requirements of the client.
  • The records of administration of the quality system

Internal quality system auditing

The review of all the aspects of the quality system of the firm is done through periodic internal audits. This will show that the quality system is effectively used by the firm.


The firm must identify the need for training for the individuals who are working for quality working system. It is recommended that the professional staff must undertake a minimum training attendance for continuing professional development that is put forward by the firm.
The details of the staff qualification, training, and their experience have to be recorded.


All the services provided by the firm to the client must be documented.

Statistical Techniques

Random sample techniques can be carried out for the quality control and monitoring of the activities. The quality level can be determined early through the sampling frequency.


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