What Is ISO 9001?

It's the international (ISO) Standard for a quality management system.

This Standard sets out requirements for a quality management system.  It is intended for use by any organisation, whether a business, nonprofit, government agency or other, that wants to:

Note the use of the word demonstrate.  Anyone can use this Standard and get value from it, but if you want to get ISO 9001 certification you must satisfy an accredited certifier that you meet all its requirements.

The full title of the document is ISO 9001 Quality Management System - Requirements.  This is usually shortened, and it is most commonly known just as 'ISO 9001'.

The ISO 9001 Standard is the most widely known and internationally accepted model for a quality management system, used by organisations across the globe for many highly effective quality systems. There are ISO 9001 certified systems in over 175 countries and economies. And the service side has been steadily increasing: now around 40% of those certificates are for organisations that provide services (rather than manufacturing).  In the 2015 (latest and current) version, the term 'services' first appeared in the requirements, acknowledging this.

What's in 9001?

Basically, it consists of a set of requirements for managing quality.  The requirements are neither arcane nor impossible.  In general, they are sheer good business sense, as agreed by a group of people drawn from across the world. 

In a Standard, a requirement is something you must do or have.  Examples of requirements in ISO 9001 include:

See ISO 9001 in a nutshell for a summary of requirements.

Most Standards are extremely specific, whereas 9001 isn't.  Its requirements are generic, meaning they are applicable to any organization, regardless of type and size, and irrespective of whether they are a commercial business or not. 

ISO 9000 documents

ISO 9001 is one of the 'ISO 9000' family of documents.  There are three in all.