ISO 9001 2015 and beyond preparing for the next 25 years of quality management Standards

Issue 43 – October 2012

This article by Dr Nigel H Croft first appeared in ISO Focus+ September 2012 and is summarised here with permission.

As we reported last month, the ISO 9000 family of Standards has reached its 25th year of publication consistently starring as ISO's most popular and best-selling series of Standards. Building on a quarter century of success, ISO/technical committee (TC) 176, Quality management and quality assurance, subcommittee (SC) 2, Quality systems is now busy laying the groundwork for the next generation of quality management Standards.

A silver jubilee is always an important time to both look forward and to assess what has been achieved. This includes the firm establishment of a common platform and language for organisations to use in discussing quality; by defining requirements in ISO 9001 Quality management systems that give a base-level confidence in an organisation's ability to provide conforming products, the Standards have also facilitated world trade. The ISO 9000 suite has formed a basis for the development of other quality management systems in such areas as environmental, health and safety, information security, and energy with the result that these Standards are widely used in specific sectors as diverse as aerospace, telecommunications, education, local government, and healthcare. As the Chair of ISO/TC 176/SC 2, Dr Nigel Croft says, 'the incredible success of the ISO 9001 certification phenomenon has helped global supply chains to become more effective and more efficient.'

The vision of ISO/TC176/SC 2 is to ensure its Standards provide a solid foundation for quality management well into the future so that ISO 9001 and ISO 9004 are 'recognised and respected worldwide, and used by organisations as an integral component of their sustainable development initiatives'. This journey will see third-party certification to ISO 9001 remain a key driver for the over one million organisations worldwide that now have quality management system certification to the Standard. But quality management must come to be seen as so much more than a set of requirements if it is to be promoted in its widest sense and to keep on helping organisations achieve long-term success.

Both ISO 9001 and ISO 9004 have had their set of eight quality management principles, developed in the mid-1990s, fully reviewed and found to be in need of only a few minor adjustments for the next generation of quality management Standards. Since the publication of the minor amendment to ISO 9001 in 2008, SC 2 has been extensively researching and preparing for the next major revision, currently forecast for 2015. This has included:

  • the development of a long-term strategic plan for SC 2 and its products

  • several open workshops held during SC 2 plenary meetings including interactions with users of the ISO 9001 and ISO 9004 Standards

  • participation in the work of the ISO Technical Management Board Joint Technical Coordination Group, aimed at increasing the alignment of ISO's management system Standards by developing a common high-level structure, common definitions, and some common text (now published as Annex SL to the ISO Directives)

  • assessment of the latest trends in quality management, including analysing new concepts to be considered for inclusion into future revisions of ISO 9001 and ISO 9004

  • analysis of data from a web-based 10 language survey of users and potential users of ISO 9001 and ISO 9004, with a total of 11 722 responses from 122 countries.

The results of these activities as well as the systematic review of ISO 9001 completed in March 2012 showed that most people considered a revision appropriate at this time. This is widely seen to be vital for keeping ISO 9001 relevant, able to reflect changes in its wider environment, and ensuing it continues to deliver 'confidence in the organisation's ability to consistently provide product that meets customer and applicable statutory and regulatory requirements'.

At the first meeting of ISO/TC 176/SC 2/working group (WG) 24, Revision of ISO 9001, in Bilbao, Spain in June 2012, the new work item proposal for the revision of ISO 9001 was developed, together with a draft design specification and project plan. The group has also developed a preliminary draft of how the new Standard could look following the integration of the current version of ISO 9001 with the common text from Annex Sl of the ISO Directives. The outputs of this meeting have been circulated to SC 2 member bodies for ballot, and subject to approval, drafting work is expected to begin in November 2012.

According to the draft design specification, the revised quality management Standard should:

  • provide a stable core set of requirements for the next 10 years or more

  • remain generic and relevant to all sizes and types of organisation operating in any sector

  • maintain the current focus on effective process management to produce desired outcomes

  • take account of changes in quality management systems practices and technology since the last major revisions in 2000

  • reflect changes in the increasingly complex, demanding, and dynamic environments in which organisations operate

  • facilitate effective organisational implementation and effective conformity assessment by first, second, and third parties

  • use simplified language and writing styles to aid understanding and consistent interpretations of its requirements.

In addition to this work on ISO 9001, ISO/TC 207/SC 1 has similarly just started a revision of ISO 14001: Environmental management systems – Requirements with guidance for use.

→ The New Zealand Organisation for Quality is marking the ISO 9000 Silver Jubilee by making its October 2012 QNewZ newsletter (normally members only) available to download for free from www.nzoq.org.nz (scroll down to 'ISO 9000 turns 25'). The October 2012 issue includes articles on ISO 9000 and the future revision of ISO 9001 scheduled for publication in 2015. Take a look to see how your organisation might benefit from systematic application of quality management

The author, Dr Nigel H Croft, is Chair of ISO technical committee ISO/TC 176/SC 2.

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