ISO9001: 2015 are you ready?

Author: Susannah Clarke

Managing Partner, Susannah Clarke, asks whether businesses are ready for the systems thinking approach required by the ISO9001:2015 update.

ISO_imageHave you seen the draft of ISO9001: 2015?

It’s fascinating to me because it’s focusing on how an organisation continually improves the quality of its systems and processes – it’s no longer enough for organisations to demonstrate they have robust systems and procedures in place, they now have to demonstrate systems thinking, which is quite a different proposition.

The proposed release of the next version is September 2015, which gives us just 6 months before you really need to think about it, depending on when your organisation needs to recertify.

So, do you need to start thinking about it yet, or can you just keep doing what you’re doing now for a bit longer?

In the 2015 release, there are 10 standard clauses proposed and clause 10 is Improvement.

The proposed words are:

The organisation shall determine and select opportunities for improvement and implement necessary actions to meet customer requirements and enhance customer satisfaction.

Hopefully, that’s exactly what your organisation does. Or does it?

Does Improvement stand alone, or do you need to look further?

There are some potential new requirements to understand in Section 4, about the Context of the Organisation, determining Risk, and Understanding the Needs and Expectations of Interested Parties.

These will clearly vary depending on your organisation, but for many it may at least include being able to demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of suppliers, shareholders, investors, regulators, competitors, employees and customers in this context.

Is this linked to improvement?

Absolutely, when you look for opportunities for improvement it’s part of the process to consider these groups, their needs and expectations. A System Map is a great exercise to reveal this information.

Great, if you do this already.

Of course, this isn’t new in terms of everyday practice. As part of developing your strategy or business plan you expect your leaders to consider the risks and interested parties. So are there any changes relating to Leadership in Section 5? It’s worth noting that Leaders are required to:

  • Demonstrate Leadership and Commitment
  • Promote awareness of the Process Approach
  • Be accountable for the effectiveness of the Quality Management System

When Leaders are accountable, really demonstrate leadership, commitment and promote the process approach, your organisation is much more likely to see results from their opportunities for Improvement.

But hang on, isn’t it the Management Representative who is accountable for the effectiveness of your QMS (Quality Management Systems)? Well, if the Management Representative is no longer explicitly required, you may still choose to have one, but the potential is that in the future, your leaders will be looking for everyone to demonstrate Improvement.

If we link these together, what do we get?

My interpretation of these clauses is that in September 2015, the proposed ISO9001:2015 will require Leaders to promote, to everyone, a process approach, to continually seek opportunities for improvement, across all interested parties, to meet the needs of customers, to enhance customer satisfaction and reduce risk.

My question is, why wait until September 2015 to start doing this?

Preparing for ISO9001:2015?

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About Susannah

Susannah ClarkeSusannah Clarke leads three main areas of PMI;

Open Learning (classroom, virtual and online)

Performance coaching


She is passionate about the development of leaders and partnering with them to help them sharpen their performance edge and realise their full potential.