What to expect with ISO 9001:2015?

eQMS Blog

Unless organizations have been hiding under rocks for the past few years, most would be familiar with the ISO 9001 international standard that specifies requirements for process and quality management accreditation. It is clear that this standard has assisted businesses with process management, without a doubt.

So what now? Well, there’s now a new kid on the block in the form of a revisited and revised standard. Enter, stage right, the ISO 9001:2015!


There will, naturally, be a few questions, and more than a few concerns that rise to the surface for all those involved. That is to be expected, but don’t get scared, now. Just muffle those screams, and hold on tight. This might get bumpy.

So what can I expect?

Plan - Do - Check - Act

These four simple words have led us all to understand what is required to enable our processes to be more solid, less cumbersome, and with the potential to lead us out of the darkness.

This methodology still reigns supreme, however, the new 2015 revision moves purposefully in the direction of the future, with a few key areas of focus. What this new revision promises to bring to the table is a recognition and hopefully a mindset that we need to adapt to the changing environments in which businesses operate today. There are a few key elements within this approach that stand out and we touch on those briefly.

Firstly, Risk Management.

The word risk instills fear, as it should in the business world, but the risk does not have to induce distress if considered from another angle. The ISO 9001:2015 instills the idea of risk from the beginning, and all the way through to the end of the document. It asks that organizations take a systematic approach to risk; to look at it proactively rather than reactively addressing an issue. A risk-based approach frees you from fear, for the simple reason that you’re facing it head-on, rather than waiting for it to jump out at you from the safety and supremacy of its shadows. The focus on managing risks and challenges that this revision offers, can only assist with improved customer relations.

Next up, we have an emphasis on Leadership.

Leadership is the epicenter of any successful business and the reviewed standard replaces management responsibility with leadership and commitment. ISO 9001:2015 demands demonstrated evidence of committed management. The 2015 revision suggests this can be shown by promoting the processes and improvements made by the organization. Its predecessor laid the foundation for top management in regard to quality management, but the revised edition now stresses commitment from other management parties.

A third topic that stands out is Communication and Awareness.

Internal and external communication gets a big mention in the revised standard. As a part of compliance, an organization will determine what, with whom, when, and how communication is maintained. While awareness of the quality policy and relevant objectives is nothing new, implications of not conforming are. This addition really drives home the importance of QMS requirements, the obligations as well as maintaining thought patterns through specific and relevant actions.

The impact

Changes result in outcomes for the benefit of all staff and customers. Businesses can expect a greater emphasis on goal setting and main business focus and objectives throughout ISO 9001:2015. Leadership is at the core of any successful process and continued improvement methodology, and is suggested as the primary key to that success. A key benefit from the revision is that standards will be consistent resulting in linked processes, delivering efficiency and value to the organization. You will gain knowledge and understanding of your weaknesses, and also of your core responsibilities as a business and a leader.

The ‘T’ Word

You may be pleased to know that you have three years to complete the transition to the 2015 revised standard, from its proposed inception in September 2015. Beyond that, you’re on your own. But don’t exhale just yet. Transitioning to the new version is something that is encouraged to be completed immediately. Consider a management tool as support. This review can at first seem daunting, so having allies will prove to be efficient, and simply a smart way to navigate the new standard.

So, friends, if you’re still reading this, that’s a good thing. Adjustment to previous ways we have dealt with certifiable tasks can be laborious, cause anxiety, and be the flag-waving trouble-making root cause of the worst case of procrastination that you will ever experience as a business. The trick is to accept this, and then try to look at it all in a positive light, and as something that can be a vehicle to make your organization’s life so much easier. 

Having a standard such as this can be quite empowering, but which-ever way you feel about it, the consensus is that we need to cast a spotlight on the ever-changing world of how we do business today. So, with a view to looking forward, preparation can now begin to enable a smooth move into the brave new world that is ISO 9001: 2015 and beyond.

Are you ready?

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