The vast majority of ISO standards are highly specific to a particular product, material or process. However, both ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 are known as generic management system standards. Generic means that the same standards can be applied to any organization, large or small, whatever its product – independent of whether its “product” is actually a service – in any sector of activity, and whether it is a business enterprise, a public administration, or a government department.
ISO 9000 is primarily concerned with quality management. The definition of “quality” in ISO 9000 refers to all those features of a product or a service which are required by the customer. Quality management means what the organization does to ensure that its products conform to the customer’s requirements.
ISO 14000 is primarily concerned with environmental management. This means what the organization does to eliminate harmful effects on the environment caused by its activities.
ISO 9000 is not a product quality label or guarantee. ISO 14000 is not a “green” label for products. ISO does not assess or audit quality or environmental management systems. When an organization has a management system certified to an ISO 9000 or ISO 14000 standard, this means that an independent auditor has checked that the process influencing quality (ISO 9000), or the process influencing the impact of the organization’s activities on the environment (ISO 14000), conforms to the relevant standard’s requirements.
ISO/TC 176 and ISO/TC 207 are the ISO technical committees responsible for developing and maintaining, respectively, the ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 families of standards.