Evolution of BS EN ISO 9001

ISO 9001 propelled Quality Management from the production floor to the management boardroom, and changed the landscape of standardization.  

With more than 800,000 certifications worldwide, ISO 9001 is one of the best known international standards. You can use our collection of withdrawn British Standards to trace the history of this popular current standard.

In its lifetime, ISO 9001 has changed significantly. It has its origins in Ministry of Defence and NATO standards from the late 1960s and early 1970s. At this time however, there was a growing sentiment in industry to produce a quality management standard for the needs of industry, rather than simply a re-issue of a military standard.  So starting life as a guide rather than a set of specifications, BS 4891:1972 'A guide to quality assurance' was produced in response to the needs of industry at the time.

Management standards initially centred on quality control; with the introduction of BS 5750 in 1987.  This standard was a great step forward in getting ‘quality of output’ on the business agenda. BS 5750 was replaced in1994 by the now internationally regarded ISO 9000 series of standards.  These standards formalised Quality Assurance.  This meant that quality was built into production rather than merely carrying out inspections at the end of the process.  This in turn has helped to ensure that business results improve and that the standard is not merely about compliance.   

The latest version of BS EN ISO 9001 is available on the BSI shop.

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