The ISO 9000 family of quality management systems standards is designed to help organizations ensure that they meet the needs of customers and other stakeholders while meeting statutory and regulatory requirements related to a product. ISO 9000 deals with the fundamentals of quality management systems, including the eight management principles upon which the family of standards is based.  ISO 9001 deals with the requirements that organizations wishing to meet the standard must fulfill.
Third-party certification bodies provide independent confirmation that organizations meet the requirements of ISO 9001. Over one million organizations worldwide are independently certified, making ISO 9001 one of the most widely used management tools in the world today. However, the ISO certification process has been criticized as being wasteful and not being useful for all organizations.
ISO 9000 was first published in 1987. It was based on the BS 5750 series of standards from BSI that were proposed to ISO in 1979. However, its history can be traced back some twenty years before that, to the publication of the United States Department of Defense MIL-Q-9858 standard in 1959. MIL-Q-9858 was revised into the NATO AQAP series of standards in 1969, which in turn were revised into the BS 5179 series of guidance standards published in 1974, and finally revised into the BS 5750 series of requirements standards in 1979 before being submitted to ISO.
Reasons for use
The global adoption of ISO 9001 may be attributable to a number of factors. A number of major purchasers require their suppliers to hold ISO 9001 certification. In addition to several stakeholders’ benefits, a number of studies have identified significant financial benefits for organizations certified to ISO 9001, with a 2011 survey from the British Assessment Bureau showing 44% of their certified clients had won new business.Corbett et al. showed that certified organizations achieved superior return on assets compared to otherwise similar organizations without certification. Heras et al. found similarly superior performance and demonstrated that this was statistically significant and not a function of organization size. Naveha and Marcus claimed that implementing ISO 9001 led to superior operational performance in the U.S. automotive industry. Sharma identified similar improvements in operating performance and linked this to superior financial performance. Chow-Chua et al. showed better overall financial performance was achieved for companies in Denmark. Rajan and Tamimi (2003) showed that ISO 9001 certification resulted in superior stock market performance and suggested that shareholders were richly rewarded for the investment in an ISO 9001 system.
While the connection between superior financial performance and ISO 9001 may be seen from the examples cited, there remains no proof of direct causation, though longitudinal studies, such as those of Corbett et al. (2005) may suggest it. Other writers, such as Heras et al. (2002), have suggested that while there is some evidence of this, the improvement is partly driven by the fact that there is a tendency for better performing companies to seek ISO 9001 certification.
The mechanism for improving results has also been the subject of much research. Lo et al. (2007) identified operational improvements (e.g., cycle time reduction, inventory reductions) as following from certification. Internal process improvements in organizations lead to externally observable improvements. The benefit of increased international trade and domestic market share, in addition to the internal benefits such as customer satisfaction, interdepartmental communications, work processes, and customer/supplier partnerships derived, far exceeds any and all initial investment.