ISO Revisions Explained: ISO 9001 – 2015

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Today’s world is a rapidly changing place with the release of many new technologies and processes every year helping the business environment to evolve. ISO 9001 was first published in 1987 and its original focus was on manufacturing environments. Since then there’s been revisions to help make the standard more appropriate for all kinds of operations, with the latest coming in 2015.

How has the standard changed in recent years and what is the revision process?

Why are ISO standards revised?

All of the ISO family of standards are reviewed every 5 years or so to ensure they are relevant to today’s marketplace. It may be to simply encompass new technologies and processes that were not previously available, or in the case of ISO 9001:2015 it was to make the standard better combine with other ISO standards such as 14001 and 27001.

What is the revision process?

Standards are developed by technical committees and are reviewed periodically by working groups. As the standard changes, specialists are bought in from varying industry and translation groups to ensure the new revisions can be implemented universally and correctly communicated. As a rough template, the revision process usually follows these steps:

Firstly there is an agreement on the need for revision, following a systematic review used to identify weak points and areas for improvement within the standard. Once this has been achieved there is an agreement on the design specification for changes in the standard moving forward.

Working drafts are then circulated internally to the relevant ISO experts for discussion and further revision. Once these are agreed to have met the required professional standard, they are upgraded to a committee draft.

ISO member bodies are then presented with the opportunity to comment and vote on the first draft of the committee draft, which may then be revised. Once all the subsequent revisions have been agreed, the international standard is published and made subject to a systematic review process every 5 years.

ISO 9001:2008 vs ISO 9001:2015

Given that the ISO standard has been revised in 2015, what were the biggest changes and how will these impact certified companies?

  • Changes in clauses – one of the biggest changes in the 2015 revision was the implementation of 2 new clauses in the certification process in line with the Plan, Do, Check, Act cycle that has become a cornerstone of certification in recent years.
  • High level structure – in 2015 ISO 9001 was given a high level structure that integrates with other standards. With the same core elements across the certification family, it is now easier for organisations to implement multiple standards.
  • Increased focus on input and output – the new revisions also require companies to check on the articles and information involved in the production process, alongside regularly evaluating the quality of the articles generated by the process.
  • Risk based thinking is given prominence – companies are now strongly encouraged to perform the proper risk analysis in the implementation of their management processes. This new revision replaces the previous preventative measures that were a recognised element of the standard.
  • The context of the organisation – previously the standard did not require users to construct its quality management system from the specific context of the organisation. Now it is important for companies to demonstrate understanding of the expectations of all the parties involved.
  • Increased interested parties – previously with ISO 9001 the customer was king, and sometimes the only interested party. With the 2015 revision suppliers, personnel, society on the whole and internal customers must be included as interested parties in the implementation of the standard.
  • Leadership and upper management – the new standards place a greater emphasis on managers and business leaders taking an active role to encourage harmonisation with business strategy. This includes taking direct responsibility for the effectiveness of the quality standard. Previously there would be a single authority in the business working as a management representative, this shift now makes quality a matter for everyone within the organisation.
  • Documentation changes – with the radical changes in media over the last few years, with people using everything from smartphones to audio books to now consume information, the new revisions to the 2015 standard reflect this social move. Documentation is not required, nor is a quality manual, instead information can come from diverse forms of media across a variety of formats.

Has your company benefited from an ISO 9001 quality management system in the past? Have you had your certification updated recently? If you are not benefitting from the latest standards, perhaps it is time to get in touch with the British Assessment Bureau again to discuss how you can bring your company in line with the latest revisions. Our team of experts can help you understand the costs, timescales and full benefits of the process.

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Written by Derrick Ross

QMS Scheme Manager - International Register of Certificated Auditors (IRCA) Lead Auditor providing support to national Assessor team for Quality Management System and Senior Lead Assessor/Auditor, providing third-party certification to businesses in a variety of sectors. Including ISO 9001, ISO 14001, OHSAS 18001 and ISO 27001.