Home Resources Blog August 2016

Transition Anniversary

22 August 2016
Nearly a year on since its release, Andrew Holt investigates the importance of issues surrounding the ISO 9001:2015 transition.

Lessons learned from previous transitions

When ISO 9001:2015 was published in September 2015, it marked the start of a three-year transition period. During this period those organizations wishing to move to the new version of the standard will need to make changes to their existing quality management systems.

Naturally, the extent of the work involved will depend on each starting point of that organization.

Those who have embraced both the substance and the spirit of the earlier edition will have respectively less work compared to those who are simply meeting the base requirements at present.

Irrespective of the starting position, the transition process should begin now. ISO’s survey data shows a significant dip in ISO 9001 registrations immediately following the last major revision in the year 2000.

Whilst it is unclear exactly why this was the case, at least some of the reduction has been attributed to organizations leaving it too late to align their systems to the 2000 edition’s requirements, and, as a consequence, their certificates were withdrawn.

For organizations that rely on ISO 9001 certification to demonstrate their competency as a supplier, the loss of such certification will invariably have a direct impact on profitability.

Start now!

Hopefully, you will have started by now so you can ensure you effect your transition in a controlled and timely manner well ahead of the September 2018 deadline.

If not done already, quality practitioners should familiarize themselves with the revised requirements and prepare plans to modify their existing quality management systems as necessary.

Top management need to understand their new obligations and must be prepared to evidence leadership (in addition to management) of their QMS.

Finally, both internal and external auditors will need to upskill, to equip themselves to assess a standard where old friends such as the management representative, the quality manual and documented procedures have disappeared and where new evidence sources have been introduced in their place.

The changes of course, may seem a little overwhelming. To put this into perspective, I asked Keith Hamlyn, IRCA Lead Auditor, CQP FCQI, chairman of Circle Green Energy Services about the challenges of transition.

How well do you think organizations have understood the revisions to ISO 9001:2015? And what are the biggest challenges they will face in improving their quality management systems?

I suspect that there are organizations who still believe that all they have to do is to update a few procedures and all will be well. There are important factors that may be being taken too lightly, such as determining the context of the organization, working out who impacts on the organization and upon whom it impacts, the issues this raises and the risks that may have to be managed. The implications of clause 4 and clause 6 are significant if transition is to be done properly.

This could be a good time to canvass members and top management to attempt to gauge their preparedness. The big issue will emerge towards October 2018 when there is a sudden realisation that the change has to be completed by then, and the certification bodies are likely to be inundated with requests.  One organization I am assisting is aiming to be complete to all intents and purposes by autumn this year, which means they will have plenty of time to clear up any problems that may arise.

Annex SL has been described as ‘the big opportunity’ for ISO standard-based management systems. How do you think organizations, business leaders and auditors can realise this opportunity?

Firstly, there’s an opportunity to set in place a single management system to manage the business. Consider for a moment a spillage of a liquid substance onto tiling that is being laid. There is a health and safety implication as it could cause a slip hazard, there is an environmental implication as there is now a fugitive discharge and there is a quality implication as the tiling could be damaged and require replacement as well as a potential process nonconformance. Should the organization deal with it as three separate issues? Surely it’s more cost effective to manage issues once and once only. Similarly, routine activities, such as document control will be managed the same way, regardless of discipline.

Secondly, more importantly, there is a huge opportunity to review how the organization is operating, as any assessment of the context of the organization will result in uncovering activities that can be undertaken more effectively. Waste material, time and effort can be reduced and risks to the financial and operational performance can be identified and mitigating action taken where appropriate.

To summarize, organizations that have started to transition or even completed transition well done – it is never too early to be prepared. Organizations that have not yet started to transition, I urge you to begin this process now, to ensure a smooth and efficient transition to the 2015 standards.

Andrew Holt is technical content executive at the CQI and IRCA.