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ISO 9001:2015 Illuminating Leadership

10 August 2015
The ISO/FDIS 9001 requires evidence that will illuminate individual’s leadership skills and reduce the risks that come with individual’s carrying tacit knowledge in the workplace. NQA Assessor Margaret Rooney explains more…
Certification bodies, including ourselves, are already preparing for the transition to the new standard, which needs to be fully implemented by all certified organisations by September 2018.
 
The FDIS, as expected, is not significantly different from the public draft, (DIS), issued last summer. There are a few editorial changes, and some minor additions to aid clarity, for example, additional notes on organisational knowledge. There has, in some places, been some minor redrafting, which has had the effect of softening the narrative, and helping make the standard overall easier to read, and more business focussed.
 
The new standard brings with it an enhanced emphasis on leadership, consideration of risk, processes, and integration of the quality management system into the overall business processes. The former explicit requirements for a quality manual, documented procedures and records have been replaced by requirements for references to documented information.
 
The explicit requirement to have a management representative has also been removed. However, the FDIS does make it very clear that top management must assign responsibility and authority for ensuring the effectiveness of the system.
 
Many of the changes witnessed are due to the influence of what is known as Annex SL; the ISO requirements for the structure of management system standards. All management system standards, including the upcoming 2015 version of ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 must conform to this. Other changes/ additions are specific to the 9001 FDIS. An example would be the explicit requirement to manage “organisational knowledge”, as a resource within the management system.
 
There is no requirement to document this, but it is doubtless something good managers and business leaders already do well. It is not, however, something that has been audited before as part of an ISO 9001 system.
 
“Customer focus, not surprisingly, is also a requirement specific to the 9001 FDIS.”
 
The enhanced emphasis on the process approach, and risk based thinking, will herald audits focussed more on effectiveness rather than compliance.
 
The history of management system standards is in fact rooted in risk reduction, but that terminology was not used, and therefore perhaps the focus lost, to a greater or lesser extent.
 
Organisations being audited should look forward to more scrutiny at the strategic level, risk awareness at all levels of the business, and the effectiveness of their management, core and support processes.
 
Some organisations may be feeling anxious about the changes to the standard. There is no need to worry. There is a three year transition period and there will be a number of options available to transition in that period. This is a conversation to be had with your assessor who will guide you on the changes and options.
 
Look out for our briefing on how to capture evidence of leadership before your audits, in the next issue of your legal and management updates ‘InTouch’.
 
All changes to ISO 9001 are explained further in your free, downloadable Key Concepts Guide that NQA Assessors have prepared for you.