ISO is the International Organisation for Standardization, and is an international standard-setting body composed of representatives from 164 national standards organisations (with the British Standards Institute, or BSI, being the British organisation represented). Founded in 1947, it’s aims were to create international standards to help countries and companies work together effectively.
Their very first standard related to a standard temperature of an object when measuring it’s dimensions (which sounds a little boring, but if you think about it … the hotter a solid object is, the larger it becomes … so without a standard temperature the same object would have different dimensions at different temperatures despite being the same object, causing inconsistent measurements on different days).
Today, they publish over 22,000 different standards, ranging from documents like ISO 4217 that specifies international Currency Codes (like GBP for Pound Sterling, USD for United States Dollar, etc.) to documents like ISO 24113 that specifies how any object headed for space should mitigate the risk of damage from Space Debris. Without such standards like these, and many others, international collaboration on projects like the International Space Station would be significantly harder and more expensive.
The standard we’ve discussed earlier is ISO 9001, which documents the requirements for Quality Management Systems. For a QMS to be ISO 9001-compliant, it must meet or exceed all the requirements in the standard.
ISO 9001 lists its requirements in many areas, including:
As you can now see, the QMS is a significantly larger piece of work to produce and, unlike a Quality Plan, has a heavy focus on actual performance and effectiveness of the QMS in action.