Quality assurance is a system of planning and operational activities which suppliers can put in place to provide assurance that the buyers' requirements will be met for the whole of the intended life of the goods or services produced.
Whether or not it is necessary to specify a quality assurance standard is dependent on:
- the likelihood and potential consequences of the risks involved;
- the value of the purchase; and
- whether requiring quality assurance will add value to the purchase.
Generally, it is not necessary to specify quality assurance standards for purchases below $50 000. Quality assurance standards would normally only be specified for purchases with a value greater than $50 000 where it is considered essential for a successful outcome.
Types of quality assurance
The type of quality assurance to be specified depends on the level and consequences of the risks identified. Four types are described below:
Type 1 - Certification of conformance to the AS/NZS/ISO 9000:2000 series
Requesting quality assurance certification to one of the AS/NZS/ISO 9000 series of quality management systems standards is appropriate for complex, high risk and/or high value purchases.
The AS/NZS/ISO 9000 series of quality management system standards is recognised as the primary standard for providing external assurance in contractual transactions.
AS/NZS/ISO 9001:2000 should be specified where conformance to specified requirements is to be assured by the supplier during several stages, such as design/development, production, installation and servicing.
Type 2 - Product certification
In some cases, product certification may be more appropriate than the certification of the quality management system. For example, product certification is important in the manufacture of electrical goods, and where health and safety regulations apply.
Product certification may be specified for goods or services produced in accordance with:
- a product certification scheme recognised by JAS-ANZ; or
- a licence/regulation established by a recognised Australian/New Zealand Government regulation authority.
Type 3 - Partial implementation of the AS/NZS/ISO 9001:2000 quality management system standard
Partial implementation of the AS/NZS/ISO 9001:2000 quality management system standard may be specified where buyers consider that some degree of quality assurance is required, but not to the extent required under Type 1. There are two levels of partial implementation:
Under Level 1, the supplier will have committed to the AS/NZS/ISO 9001:2000 quality management system standard by completing a gap analysis between current practice within the supplier's organisation and the requirements of the standard.
The supplier will have implemented all of the requirements of AS/NZS/ISO 9001:2000 but will not yet have been certified.
Type 4 - Normal commercial and industry practice
For low value/low risk purchases, a documented quality assurance system may not be required. However, buyers can assure quality by seeking evidence of a supplier's satisfactory performance history and by comparing products with the specification.
Where can I get copies of AS/NZS/ISO standards?
Standards can be obtained online from SAI Global:
Telephone: 131 242
Facsimile: 1300 65 49 49
How do I ensure that a supplier is AS/NZS/ISO 9000:2000 certified?
The Joint Accreditation System of Australia and New Zealand (JAS-ANZ) lists suppliers which are certified under the AS/NZS/ISO 9000:2000 standard series.
You can check if a supplier is certified by searching the JAS-ANZ website or by contacting:
PO Box 79
DEAKIN WEST ACT 2600
Telephone: (02) 6282 5840
Facsimile: (02) 6282 6818
Who is responsible for deciding if a quality assurance standard should be specified?
The agency undertaking the purchase is responsible for determining whether quality assurance should be specified and the category of quality assurance to be specified.