SECURING an internationally-recognised quality standard such as ISO 9000 is as good as getting a pass mark, a consultant says. Divisional manager of the Hong Kong Productivity Council's quality and management consultancy division Edmund Sung said: 'A company thinks it [ISO 9000] is the end of the quality journey but it is really just the start.' Back in 1989, when the ISO 9000 concept was first promoted in Hong Kong, the HKPC set out to help companies obtain the quality certification. The companies that were certified were among the pioneers of quality in the industrial sectors in which they were active. 'We encouraged a company in each sector to take the first step while others would only wait and see the result,' Mr Sung said. Once the first few companies had obtained certification, it provided the impetus for other industries to gain ISO 9000. 'The result was successful; as the first company was for some time the only company in its sector, it picked up considerable profit from customers who wanted ISO-certified suppliers,' Mr Sung said. Some of the first ISO 9000-certified companies, Computer Products, Shui On (construction) and Luks Industrial (TV manufacturers), vastly improved their businesses, he said. In recent years, the council has made strategic alliances with corporations to continue to promote new techniques of quality management, such as Total Quality Management. This has has been defined as management of people, systems, performance measurements and tools. The council launched a programme in partnership with Xerox, an American company which has successfully implemented TQM during the past five years and also has won 18 quality awards. Xerox has created a 'global integrated management model', which drew together all aspects of management processes, Mr Sung said. The company also operates a network of small self-assessed units. HKPC hopes to adopt this approach in Hong Kong in conjunction with Xerox through a newly formed Quality Institute. During Quality Week in March, the council also announced a joint initiative to work with the Motorola University to promote quality for business performance. The aim is to promote creativity within a company. The training programme focuses on the ability of managers to recognise and develop creativity. A third initiative was established last year with Oxford University whereby managers trained for the British management qualification established by the National Council for Vocational Qualifications. Mr Sung said TQM was 'incremental, unlike re-engineering, which is surgery'.