ISO 9000 Vs ISO 9001 - What’s The Difference

When it comes to owning and operating a business, ISO 9001 certification is usually something that is very sought after. With this stamp of approval, so to speak, it is confirmed that your company upholds and maintains a certain quality standard. However, not many people are as well-versed in ISO 9000.

What is the difference between ISO 9000 and 9001? The difference between ISO 9000 and ISO 9001 is very simple. While ISO 9000 is technically an entire family of standards, inclusive of ISO 9001, there is an additional standard called ISO 9000 that defines all of the terminology used within the category.

ISO 9001, on the other hand, is an individual standard with a specific set of regulations that are laid out within a series of clauses. Detailed processes including gap analysis and internal audits must be conducted while using ISO 9001 in order to maintain the quality management system.

ISO 9001 certification has become a staple in all kinds of businesses all around the world, regardless of the personnel size or the industry in question. This is due to the fact that business owners, employees, management, and customers all benefit from the well-oiled machine that is a certified business.

While most people are aware of what this kind of quality management system can do, being that the most recent version, ISO 9001:2015, was updated only a few years ago, ISO 9000 is not a topic that is regularly discussed. Today, we will be going over the differences between ISO 9000 and  ISO 9001.

ISO 9001 and ISO 9001 ribbons

The Differences Between ISO 9000 and ISO 9001

It is no secret that ISO 9001 certification is something that is sought after by business owners, customers, and company personnel alike. With a solid quality management system implemented and maintained within a business, the frequency of something going wrong dwindles significantly.

When the topic of ISO 9000 is brought up, on the other hand, many people aren’t sure of what the exact difference is. With the names being so similar, it can be difficult to differentiate the two.

To start out, we will be outlining a simple explanation of what ISO 9000 is, in the first place. Take a look at the list down below to get some quick answers, and keep reading for all of the details.

ISO 9000

  1. An entire family of standards
  2. ISO 9000 is also an individual standard
  3. Outlines vocabulary/definitions for entire QMS series
  4. Main purpose - definition

ISO 9000 can be defined in two separate ways, because it is technically two separate things. The first definition of ISO 9000 is an entire family of standards.

To be more specific, ISO 9000 holds a series of individual standards underneath it, which includes ISO 9001.

However, the ISO 9000 family also includes an individual standard called ISO 9000. This standard is much different from what you might have heard about ISO 9001, though.

ISO 9000 is essentially a collection of vocabulary and definitions for the entire quality management series.

The main purpose of ISO 9000 is essentially to define the terminology that exists throughout the rest of the standards. As you keep reading, you will find out that ISO 9001 is almost the opposite.

While it is true that ISO 9000 can be a confusing topic to those who have not educated themselves on it, the same thing can go for the ISO 9001 standard that is more well-known.

Although ISO 9001 is recognized globally, and a lot of businesses are certified with the quality management system, it is not as simple as it might sound.

In fact, the ISO 9001 standard defines a series of clauses and regulations, but it does not very clearly outline how a business owner can go about actually implementing these regulations into the business.

Let’s take a look at what exactly ISO 9001 is. Refer to the list down below to get a general idea of what you might be missing.

ISO 9001

  1. An individual standard within ISO 9000 family
  2. Includes specific requirements for a company
  3. Gap analysis and internal audits are required
  4. Main purpose - actions

ISO 9001 is an individual standard within the larger category of the ISO 9000 family, but it is different than the ISO 9000 standard itself.

This is due to the fact that ISO 9001 is consistent of specific requirements for a company. This is what the personnel of a business will use to stay within the lines of the quality management system.

internal audit elements

For ISO 9001 certification and implementation, processes like gap analysis and internal audits are required. The gap analysis consists of assessing the current quality management system, which will soon be considered the old one, and comparing it to the new one, which will be ISO 9001.

This allows the business owner and company personnel to see a clear difference between what they currently have and what they are moving toward as their overall goal. This happens in the initial stages of ISO 9001 implementation.

In addition to the first processes that comes with ISO 9001, certified businesses will be required to conduct internal audits, which will help to evaluate the effectiveness of the new quality management system, and assess eligibility for certification.

This is all because the main purpose of ISO 9001 is for the business owner to take action toward more quality procedures.

To sum it all up, ISO 9000 is something you read up on and get familiar with in order to understand all of the other specific standards, while ISO 9001 is something that you actually put actions behind in order to implement.

So, now that we have outlined the clear differences between the two, let’s go over some similarities. While the main question was the comparison of these two standards, it is also important to understand what they have in common.

Take a look at the list down below to gain an understanding of how ISO 9000 and 9001 are not so different after all.

The Similarities Between ISO 9000 and 9001

  1. Both fall under the quality management category
  2. Same terminology recognized across both standards
  3. Both require review and maintenance

First of all, both ISO 9001 and 9000 fall under the same category of quality management systems. This goes for the entire ISO 9000 family. The main difference lies in how they are used.

Additionally, the same terminology is recognized across both standards. The two essentially go hand in hand in this aspect - because you can learn about the vocabulary used in ISO 9000, and put it to use while you become ISO 9001 certified.

Finally, both ISO 9000 and 9001 require review and/or maintenance. When you are trying to become certified with ISO 9001, you must be familiar with ISO 9000 terms.

When you are ISO 9001 certified, you must continuously maintain the quality that you have produced with the implementation of the standard as a whole.

After briefly learning some of the details about how you can gain an ISO 9001 certification, you might be wondering if the same thing is possible for ISO 9000. Can you get ISO 9000 certified in the same way that you can do it for ISO 9001?

While this is a very common misconception among first-time business owners, ISO 9000 certification does not actually exist.

So, in other words, this is one more thing that you do not have to worry about throughout your journey to certification.

If you thought that the ISO 9001 process was complicated, then this will be good news. All you will have to do is become certified with this standard, and avoid any extra steps that you might have thought were there.

Although you won’t be getting certified with ISO 9000 necessarily, it is still important to have a good grasp and understanding of the basic concepts. Keep reading to the next section to find out why.


Why Do I Need To Understand Both ISO 9000 and ISO 9001?

So, now that you understand that ISO 9000 certification is not required, nor does it even exist, you might be wondering why you should even bother looking into it as a business owner.

While this is a justified question to ask, it is very important that you understand why you should familiarize yourself with both ISO 9000 and ISO 9001. Take a look at the list down below to get an explanation, and keep reading for all of the details.

This is why you need to understand both ISO 9000 and 9001

  1. ISO 9000 defines terminology used in ISO 9001 regulations
  2. ISO 9001 will tell you how to maintain quality in your business with actionable guidelines
  3. One will not be beneficial without the other (gain knowledge from 9000, execute quality standards with 9001)

First and foremost, ISO 9000 defines the terminology used in ISO 9001 regulations, so you need it to understand what you are doing as far as implementation.

ISO 9001 will tell you how to maintain quality in your business with actionable guidelines, but it will not be beneficial without ISO 9000. In fact, neither one of these standards will do much for you as a business owner without the other, which is something to keep in mind as you move forward.

The main idea to understand is that you will gain knowledge from 9000, while executing quality standards with 9001.


What Are The Benefits Of ISO 9001 Certification?

As previously mentioned, there are a lot of benefits that come with ISO 9001 certification for everyone involved.

If you are considering going through the process of ISO 9001 certification, it seems like the first step to familiarize yourself with how everyone will benefit from this achievement.

In other words, you should have a good understanding of why you want to get ISO 9001 certified before you go ahead with the process.

To tie this all up, we will be outlining all of the benefits that come with being certified with ISO 9001. First, let’s take a look at exactly who will see the benefits, before we get into what they actually are.

Who benefits from ISO 9001 Certification

  1. Business Owner(s)
  2. Management
  3. Employees
  4. Customers

As you might have already guessed, you as the business owner will certainly benefit from ISO 9001 certification for a wide variety of reasons. However, most people don’t know that this effect trickles down to all branches of the company.

The others who benefit from a solid ISO 9001 quality management system include management of the company, the employees on all levels, and the customers who purchase the products and services that the company provides.

Now, let’s take a closer look at what each of the people in these positions can take away from ISO 9001 certification in a positive way, starting with the business owner.

This is how the business owner benefits from ISO 9001 certification

  1. Increased customer base
  2. More revenue and cash flow within the business
  3. Longevity with management and employees

The business owner, as you might have already guessed, will benefit from ISO 9001 certification in many ways, especially in the financial aspect.

When a company is running smoothly and maintaining quality at the same time, there is an increased customer base.

With more customers comes more money and cash flow, which makes a happy business owner. After all, who doesn’t love to have increased revenue in their business?

In addition, the business owner will have more longevity with management and employees that they hire, because they have created a positive workplace for everyone involved.

As a result, they will be more inclined to do their job the best that they can, and will actually want to be a part of the company long term. It goes without saying that the business owner will make a lot more money this way, as well.

This is how management benefits from ISO 9001 certification

  1. More organized workplace
  2. Ease of managing operations with a clear set of tasks
  3. More control over employees
  4. Ethical procedure for correcting employee behavior

Management, on the other hand, will benefit from ISO 9001 certification when they experience a more organized workplace.

This new organization will include the ease of managing operations through a clear set of tasks. When the ISO 9001 quality management system is picked up by a business of any size, all managers are required to pick up on the new guidelines of a special quality manual.

This will assist them in understanding what their tasks are on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. These guidelines can be viewed as somewhat of a checklist that management will go through in order to keep all employees in line and make sure everything is running smoothly.

With the implementation of this new system, management will also enjoy more control over employees for increased productivity and better results, as well as a clearly outlined and ethical procedure for correcting employee behavior, instead of taking more serious action in the event of a mistake.

This is how employees benefit from ISO 9001 certification

  1. More organized workplace with clear expectations of work
  2. Rewards and incentives through QMS
  3. Opportunity to correct non-conformances

Employees also benefit from ISO 9001, believe it or not. For starters, they can also enjoy a more organized workplace, where they have very clear expectations of work.

When the new quality management system is implemented, each individual employee will have their own set of tasks that they must complete in a quality manner on a daily basis.

In addition to what is expected of them, they work closely with their supervisors and management, who are carefully overseeing what they are doing in the workplace.

They can gain rewards and incentives through the quality management system, which will motivate them to reach their full potential at work, while contributing to the growth and success of the company.

In the event that they ever make a mistake, all employees are given the opportunity to correct all non-conformances and get back in line with ISO 9001 standards.

This is how customers benefit from ISO 9001 certification

  1. Higher quality products and/or services
  2. Rewards and incentives from the company to continue business
  3. Having a voice in the company

Finally, the customers will benefit from ISO 9001 through higher quality products and/or services. No matter what the company offers to its customers, it will be improved significantly after the implementation of ISO 9001 standards.

Customers can also receive rewards and incentives from the company to continue business, but the most valuable benefit might be the voice that they receive.

ISO 9001 quality management systems rely on both positive and negative feedback from the customers in order to successfully help each business reach their full earning and customer satisfaction potential.

To conclude, the difference between ISO 9000 and ISO 9001 can seem complicated, but they are very fundamental in nature. Once you are able to distinguish between the two, and become well-versed with both of them, nothing will be able to stop you while establishing quality in your business.


ISO 9001 & Other Standards


Written: 27th July 2019
Author: Richard Keen

Richard Keen

Richard Keen

Richard is our Compliance Director, responsible for content & product development.
But most importantly he is ISO's biggest fanboy and a true evangelist of the standards.
Learn more about Richard