Blog: Elizabeth Ziph

Elizabeth Ziph is the co-founder of The Linux Box Corporation in downtown Ann Arbor, has over 30 years of experience in the IT industry and sits on the Detroit Chamber of Commerce Technology Advisory Panel. She will be writing about open source software, the freedom it gives its users and its potential impact on the future of computing.

Post No 4: ISO 9001:2000 Certification

ISO 9001:2000 is a quality standard certified by the International Standards Organization (ISO). Typically, companies get ISO certified because large customers or government require it.Their objective is to ensure that the vendors they work with follow the same quality standards that they do. 

While none of our customers had asked for it, we asked for it ourselves. We did it to ensure that we have quality measures to use in-house—measures that are double-checked by a respected, external organization. We also did it for our customers, to assure them that we continuously deliver defect-free software and services, and are doing so systematically.  

ISO requires demonstrated compliance through measurement and record keeping.  We must define metrics to measure the quality of our products. These records are used to track our progress and develop preventive and corrective actions to help improve our process. Knowing that we go through all these quality assurance steps allows us to be comfortable that we can offer a warranty for our services.  

One surprising fact about the quality system at The Linux Box, and a key reason why it has been successful, is the level of employee commitment. The original idea to pursue ISO registration arose from internal process improvement discussions and was strongly supported by technical staff, who have also been very involved in development and formalization of processes. As a company, we realized that the ISO process could not only help the company deliver better quality services to customers, but also increase our satisfaction and enjoyment delivering them. 

The actual process of developing and documenting procedures was difficult, but complying with it is not. Getting re-certified every year allows us to stay consistent, be proactive, and focus on continuous improvement.