I have just finished reading your editorial "Eliminate ISO 9000?" with high interest. We were one of the first companies certified in New Hampshire in January 1993. We used it as a model to formalize a system and it was helpful. We are a small company with under 50 people in our operation. Sales are approximately $5 million to $6 million.
We decided to drop our certification as of January 2001. That was based, partially, on my recommendation to the ownership of the company. My most compelling reason to make that recommendation was the time spent on documenting activities for the sake of having documentation. I felt my activities were becoming less and less productive. Too much time was being spent in Sales, Engineering and the Quality Department (both of us) preparing paperwork to show an auditor that we were, in fact, doing the activities that are considered essential just to continue to stay in business.
We never found certification opened any doors for us and we have not run into any doors closed upon us in the last year and a half. Our business continues to be slow, as it had started to become before we dropped ISO 9001. We continue to operate to our documented system but now feel liberated to emphasize the parts we consider important and drop whatever we consider unnecessary. My own personal opinion is that some things are not followed through as thoroughly as when an auditor was apt to catch a lapse in records, but I do feel that, overall, the employees of this company are spending less time on unproductive activities.
Paul C. Doe