As early as 1986, when quality management was still in its infancy, DQS issued the first ISO 9001 certificate in Germany - at that time still on the basis of the draft version. The first publication of the "ISO 9000" series of standards did not take place until 1987 as a model for quality assurance systems. This was the beginning of an unbroken success story for management systems. The development of this successful quality standard is closely linked to the history of DQS.


The concept of demonstrating quality capability by means of a certifiable management system can hardly be questioned in view of the approximately 1 million ISO 9001 certificates in force today. Companies today know quality management systems as an effective tool for top management. It creates transparency, reduces complexity and provides security of action. However, management systems achieve much more when they are assessed and certified by a neutral and independent third party such as DQS. Because then - as the history of ISO 9001 underlines - they also create the necessary trust in products or services and thus in the performance of a company.

DQS: Germany's first management system certification body

The German Institute for Standardization e.V. (DIN) and the German Society for Quality e.V. (DGQ) took on an issue that was quite controversial in Germany in 1983/84. It was about the foundation of a management system certification body. To this end, they held numerous discussions with the most important industry associations. Despite considerable initial reservations, they finally signaled their support.

On February 1, 1985, five months before the first drafts of the "IS0 9000 family" were published, DQS began its work as Deutsche Gesellschaft zur Zertifizierung von Qualitätssicherungssystemen mbH. This made it Germany's first and the world's third management system certification body. Today, after 35 years of a history of ISO 9001 and DQS, we are still committed to quality and carry the "Q" in our name - even though quality assurance systems have long since become management systems.

When DQS was founded, Germany was one of the first countries to offer certification of what were then called quality assurance systems. In 1990, DQS was a founding member of today's IQNet Association. The intention was to take into account the increasing internationality of the industry.

"Today, 1 million companies in 191 countries speak the same language when it comes to certified quality management. In 139 countries, they speak with DQS."

In 1991, DQS was the first certification body in Germany to be accredited for ISO 9001/2/3 by the then TGA GmbH (today: Deutsche Akkreditierungsstelle GmbH, DAkkS). Today, the spectrum of our services covers about 100 international regulations and national standards. Approximately two thirds of all DAX-listed companies are long-standing DQS customers.

The ISO 9001 standard and its history

The history of ISO 9001 begins, if you will, with the founding of ISO/TC 176 in 1979. The Technical Committee of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) was to develop a universal, globally applicable quality management standard. The basis was the already existing British standard BS 5750, which had been developed by the BSI starting in 1975. The British standard has its roots in the military-political environment of the post-war years in Great Britain. However, it was to take another six years before a first draft of the standard was published. The year 1985 thus marks the "actual" birth of ISO 9001, even though official publication did not take place until 1987. The milestones of ISO 9001 in fast forward:


The first draft of the "ISO 9000" series of standards (ISO 9000/1/2/3/4) is issued.


On August 28, 1986, DQS issues the first ISO 9001 certificate in Germany for Hottinger Baldwin Messtechnik GmbH in Darmstadt - based on the draft version of DIN ISO 9001. This marks an important milestone in the history of ISO 9001.


The ISO 9001/2/3 series of standards is published as a demonstration model for quality assurance systems in 20 elements, in Germany as DIN ISO standards:

  • DIN ISO 9001 as a model for demonstrating quality assurance in all areas of the company: Design, development, production, assembly and customer service.
  • DIN ISO 9002 as a model for the presentation of quality assurance in production and assembly.
  • DIN ISO 9003 as a model for the presentation of quality assurance in final inspection.

Numerous national (industry) standards were withdrawn in favor of this new international series of standards. The intended harmonization was thus successful. In many countries, the standards also received government recognition as an important element of legally prescribed conformity assessment procedures. Some industry associations, which had long resisted, now took a close look at the standards. They even introduced more stringent versions, for example in the automotive, medical devices, aviation and food sectors. The ISO 9000ff series of standards is thus still the model for a whole series of sector-specific management system standards, such as IATF 16949 (automotive).


ISO standards are reviewed at regular intervals, usually every five to six years. During such a review, it is determined whether the respective standard still corresponds to the current state of the art, whether it should be revised or even withdrawn. The purpose of the periodic review is to ensure that the standard requirements meet the current conditions in which an organization operates. The history of ISO 9001 is thus also characterized by continuity and reliability.

The first revision of ISO 9001 took place in 1994. At that time, however, only a few minor adjustments were made, mainly of an editorial or conceptual nature.


ISO 9001:2000 - The 2000 revision, on the other hand, brought a fundamental revision and the merging of ISO 9001, ISO 9002 and ISO 9003 into a single standard.

The change from QA = quality assurance to QM = quality management in the 1990s and the introduction of process orientation were two further significant milestones in the history of ISO 9001. The conceptual shift from assurance to management corresponded to its importance for corporate practice. Thus, ISO 9001 was finally placed in the top management, i.e. where "proper corporate management" is actually responsible. DQS, for its part, had started this type of auditing long before process orientation was anchored in ISO 9001, thus opening the door to quality management for many service companies.

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The revised standard was now written in a more understandable language. This made it easier to use by all industries, but especially by service companies. In terms of content, a process-oriented structure replaced the previous 20 elements. Another new feature was the stronger focus on customer satisfaction and the orientation towards core processes. Non-applicable requirements (for example, development) were allowed to be excluded - according to the definition of "permissible exclusions" in Section 7 of the standard. The modern understanding of quality management and its significance for business practice was contained in the "Eight Principles of Quality Management".


ISO 9001:2008 - The publication of the fourth edition of ISO 9001 took place in 2008. A large part of the changes were mainly aimed at easier application through clarifications in the statements. The basic structure and strategic orientation of the standard remained unchanged. The requirements also remained essentially the same.


ISO 9001:2015 - With the September 2015 revision, the history of ISO 9001 continues to be written. The standard was adapted to the so-called High Level Structure, a basic structure with uniform core texts for the central requirements for management systems as well as the common designations and definitions, which has been the basis for all ISO management system standards since 2012. Key innovations are:


DQS Audit Guide to ISO 9001:2015

Much more than just a checklist!

The most frequently asked audit questions and possible evidence: 

  • Importance of requirements
  • Good audit questions
  • Evidence, implementation examples and key figures


Compatibility with other management system standards
In order to facilitate the compatibility of different management system standards in their application, ISO adopted the so-called High Level Structure (HLS) in 2012 after long preparatory work and incorporated it into the ISO Supplement of ISO/IEC Directives Part 1. The core texts refer to basic requirements that are the same for all known management system standards. Depending on the ISO standard, they are supplemented by topic-specific requirements, such as in ISO 14001 (environment), ISO 45001 (occupational health and safety) and ISO 27001 (information security). In addition, uniform terminology makes it much easier to apply different standards. In this way, different management systems should be more easily merged or integrated into an existing management system.

35 years in the service of business: DQS and ISO 9001

The history of DQS is closely linked to the history and development of ISO 9001. In 2020, DQS celebrated its 35th anniversary - and if you count the publication of the first draft of the standard in 1985 as the year of birth, this also applies to ISO 9001 to a certain extent. The standard has made its way: to this day, successful companies use modern quality management systems to secure their success in the market. The findings from our annual audits, which continuously improve a company's organizational and process structure, also make a significant contribution to this.

Why certification by DQS?

DQS issued the first ISO 9001 certificate in Germany in August 1986. DQS is therefore closely linked to the history of ISO 9001. Since then, we have been striving together with our customers for effective management systems and sustainable business success - through and for people. To this end, we continue to use only experienced specialists and managers from business and science as auditors.

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Certification according to ISO 9001

We would be pleased to inform you in a personal conversation about the effort and the costs of a certification.

Please contact us. Without obligation and free of charge.

Nadja Goetz

Product manager ISO 9001 as well as DQS expert for health management systems and BSI-KRITIS audits, auditor and product manager for various quality standards of rehabilitation as well as inpatient and outpatient care.