ISO 9004:2018 The Standard for Business Excellence

Learn how to improve business performance through rethinking your work processes.

Business Meeting

What is the ISO 9004:2018 Standard?

The ISO 9004:2018 standard is a set of guidelines for businesses looking to improve their overall performance. It focuses on eight key areas: customer satisfaction, leadership, engagement of people, process management, continual improvement, business results, and supplier relationships. While ISO 9001 is the best-known quality management standard, ISO 9004 provides a more holistic approach to quality management, making it well-suited for businesses of all sizes. By following ISO 9004, companies can create a culture of continuous improvement, create lasting value for their customers, and sustain business success.

What is Sustained Success?

Sustained success is the ability of a business to maintain its high performance over a long period. This type of success is not easy to achieve, requiring a commitment to continuous improvement and a focus on customer satisfaction. Businesses must have strong leadership, engage their employees, and manage their processes effectively.

How Can Sustained Success Be Achieved?

The key to sustained success lies in various factors. Each organization must find its unique path to success. However, all businesses looking to achieve this goal can follow some common threads.

Meeting the Needs and Expectations of Customers

Although this may seem obvious, many ignore it. To achieve sustained success, you must first provide value to your customers. It can be done by understanding their needs and desires and creating products or services that meet or exceed their expectations.

Effective Management of the Organization

To achieve sustained success, you must have an effective management team. This team should be able to set clear goals and objectives, create and implement strategies, and make decisions that are in the organization’s best interests.

Awareness of the Organization’s Environment

It is essential to be aware of the ever-changing environment in which your organization operates. It includes understanding the political, economic, social, and technological trends that could impact your business.

Continuous Learning and Improving

To maintain a competitive edge, learning and improving are essential. It means keeping up with the latest industry trends, best practices, and technologies. It also means constantly evaluating your performance and making improvements where necessary.

How Can ISO 9004 Help Your Organization?

The ISO 9004:2018 standard can help organizations of all sizes in their quest for sustained success through the following:

  • Guide and support the company in achieving long-term success using a quality management strategy. It may be used by any business, regardless of size, type, or sector.
  • Promote the use of self-assessment as a valuable tool in assessing the maturity level of your organization. It examines leadership, strategy, management system, resources, and processes to reveal areas of strength and limitation as well as possible improvements and innovations.
  • Have a broader scope and addresses the demands and expectations of all relevant interested parties compared to ISO 9001, which is more concerned with quality management.. ISO 9004 also offers direction for improving your company’s overall performance systematically and continuously.
  • Complement ISO 9001 and other management system standards.

Digitize the way you Work

Empower your team with SafetyCulture to perform checks, train staff, report issues, and automate tasks with our digital platform.

Get Started for Free

ISO 9001 vs. ISO 9004: What’s the Difference?

Regarding Quality Management Systems (QMS), there are two primary standards that organizations can choose to follow: ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 9004:2018.
Both standards aim to improve quality management practices, but there are some critical differences between them. For one thing, ISO 9001:2015 is focused on meeting customer requirements, while ISO 9004:2018 takes a more holistic approach and encompasses all aspects of an organization’s quality management system.
Additionally, ISO 9001:2015 requires organizations to establish and maintain a quality management system, while ISO 9004:2018 does not mention this requirement. As a result, organizations that follow ISO 9001:2015 may have an easier time achieving certification than those that opt for ISO 9004:2018.

The Elements of ISO 9004

This standard contains seven distinct themes. Each theme comprises a set of criteria to assess your business operation in line with this ISO standard.

Organizational Quality Assessment and Sustainment

A strong quality management system generates value rather than only ensuring compliance, resulting in fewer repeat issues and exceptional client service. Generally, this standard assesses and sustains an organization’s overall quality.

People in leadership roles should work to empower their employees. It’ll help them take ownership of their work and overcome any “it’s not my job” mentality. It’ll shift the blame and lower employee engagement. Managers should tackle the fundamental causes of a problem rather than its surface manifestations by getting the relevant individuals together to fix them.

Leadership’s Role in Quality Management

Leadership provides direction and vision for an organization. It is also responsible for creating an environment that promotes continuous improvement. Thus, it’s the responsibility of leaders to participate actively in quality management and ensure that quality is part of the organization’s culture.

Process Management

Organizations need to have the right resources in place to be able to meet customer requirements. It includes things like human resources, financial resources, and information resources. Effective resource management will help organizations achieve their quality objectives.

Resource Management

Organizations need to have the right resources to achieve sustained success. It includes human resources, financial resources, information resources, and infrastructure. This standard guides how to manage these resources effectively.

Evaluation of An Organization’s Performance

Organizations should constantly evaluate their performance and make improvements where necessary. Self-assessment and external audits are both options. Evaluation should focus on the whole organization, not just isolated parts.

Improvement, Learning, and Innovation

Organizations should always be looking for ways to improve their quality management system. It includes things like implementing new technologies, improving processes, and making changes to the organizational structure.

Learning from mistakes is also important in continuously improving processes. Organizations should have a strategy for identifying and investigating incidents to learn from them and prevent them from happening again.

Establishment of an Organization’s Context and Identity

Every organization is different, so each one will have its unique context. Quality management systems should take into account this context. The identity of an organization is also essential. Ensure that an organization’s values and culture match its quality objectives.

FAQs about ISO 9004

No, ISO 9004:2018 is not a mandatory standard. However, many organizations choose to adopt it to improve their overall performance.

It is possible to establish quality management systems using either ISO 9004 or ISO 9001. They aim to help any business improve its quality management system.

ISO 9004 and ISO 9001 are two different standards within the overall ISO 9000 framework. When a company needs to show proof of its capability to consistently deliver products and services that satisfy customer expectations in addition to statutory or regulatory criteria, it must follow both ISO 9004 and ISO 9001.

By requiring detailed procedures, implementing gap analysis, and conducting internal reviews, ISO 9001 improves manufacturing process quality control. In contrast, the ISO 9004 standard includes a self-assessment aspect.

ISO 19011 is a standard for establishing audit programs and conducting audits of existing management systems designed to help organizations meet international standards. ISO 9004:2018 is a guideline for improving the overall performance of organizations. It is not an ISO standard that can be certified.

Rob Paredes
Article by
Rob Paredes
Rob Paredes is a content contributor for SafetyCulture. He is a content writer who also does copy for websites, sales pages, and landing pages. Rob worked as a financial advisor, a freelance copywriter, and a Network Engineer for more than a decade before joining SafetyCulture. He got interested in writing because of the influence of his friends; aside from writing, he has an interest in personal finance, dogs, and collecting Allen Iverson cards.