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ISO 9001 And Six Sigma For Starters

Differences and similarities ...

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This week I have a guest post from Kaltrina Istrefi from PECB talking about ISO 9001 and Six Sigma. Take it away Kaltrina ...

ISO 9001 and Six Sigma can be aligned and integrated together!

ISO 9001 and Six Sigma can be aligned and integrated together!

copyright: nexusplexus / 123rf

The number of organisations that are getting certified against ISO 9001 and Six Sigma is increasing at unprecedented rates. These organizations want to differentiate their products and services in the competitive market of today's world, stay professional, and make sure that they use their human and capital resources wisely.

Most of these organizations get certified voluntarily, simply because they want to get better at what they do and offer better services. But which approach is best?

At some point in their growth, ISO 9001 certified organizations have considered adding Six Sigma methodologies as methods of improvement in the activities of their Quality Management System.

ISO 9001 and Six Sigma complement each other; they both improve processes. However, in order to understand that, let us go through their differences and similarities.

  • Similarities

    Both ISO 9001 and Six Sigma have a process approach to methodology application, and they both use the cycles of continuous improvement. The focus of ISO 9001 inclines towards attaining more consistent and predictable results from the individual processes of the system. Six Sigma focuses on the individual process as well, by using Supplier, Inputs, Process, Output, and Customers diagram ''SIPOC''.

    ISO 9001 uses the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle, which focuses on the improvement of the system. On the other hand, Six Sigma uses the Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control ''DMAIC'' project methodology for process improvement (an abbreviation for), which is a data-based improvement cycle. Of course, all phases of both cycles must be followed in order for them to work efficiently.

  • Differences

    For starters, ISO 9001 is a management system, while Six Sigma is a quantitative methodology. ISO 9001 is far more comprehensive, and contains important elements like policies and requirements, while Six Sigma focuses on statistics, gathering data and removing errors.

    The core difference between ISO 9001 and Six Sigma is that ISO 9001 is composed of requirements which are used to improve the quality of the organization's management system. On the other hand, Six Sigma has nothing to do with requirements, but is merely a set of techniques and strategies which are used to improve a specific process inside a company.

    Moreover, ISO 9001 does not specify the tools or methods in its requirements. As Six Sigma uses always quantitative methodologies, it always seeks to minimize inconsistency and eliminate defects detected in the processes of the organization.

ISO 9001 and Six Sigma can be aligned and integrated together. They both seek continuous process improvements, employee involvement, fact-based decision-making and a systematic approach to management.

When a company implements ISO 9001, they can use Six Sigma and its methods to help set targets to measure performance and reduce errors. ISO 9001 provides the framework, while Six Sigma provides the techniques required for an effective Quality Management System.

"Their integration will lead to an increased quality of processes and end products/services."

If you'd like to find out more about ISO 9001 and Six Sigma then do give me a call on 01858 414226 or click here to ping me an email and let's see how I can help you. You can also discover more about PECB at and I thank Kaltrina for contributing this really interesting blog post.

Until next time ...


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More about Ellen Willoughby ...

I'm Ellen, Director of All About Quality and All About Productivity. I have over 20 years experience as professional in the quality world and 17 years as a practising Buddhist. As a result of this, I have a passion for improvement. in both business and personal life.


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