What's the Importance of Context in ISO 9001:2015?

One of the biggest challenges of ISO 9001:2015 quality management systems is the context of scope and to be completely honest, even I get confused sometimes.

You can apply this example talking about other management systems: ISO 9001 quality management system, ISO 45001 OH&S management system, ISO 14001 environmental management system or ISMS management system.

When you're talking about the example of a restaurant, you see a big dining room filled with a bunch of people serving food, customers ordering food and having this amazing experience.

Without a management system in place, it really comes down to the leader; the leader sets the tone. Top management must set the tone, and it’s their job to get everybody to co-operate.

In the kitchen, everything might be running smoothly. The head chef might be leading, allocating and controlling the orders. Out on the floor, the waiters could be running around with no direction, not knowing what goes where. They’re delivering food to the wrong tables, calling the wrong orders, and have no direction what so ever.

In this instance, the kitchen has a leader who is setting the tone, and possibly a set of processes to produce the food to look, taste and be on time to the desired outcome. So, when you start to overlay an ISO 9001 management system or any management system, ask yourself where you’re going to apply it.

If you’re struggling with the understanding of scope and context, just talk about physically where you will apply it. If that restaurant is a chain of restaurants, then what part of the organization is the kitchen’s management system, and what management system is for the restaurant area.

Ask yourself, what type of management systems is going to have the most positive impact in the kitchens across multiple restaurants. Is it going to be each individual restaurant with their own management system. Do all the restaurants have the same management system? Is it one country, one area, one town or one city etc.

This is where scope and context become important to think about. Your organization is this way because ISO 9001:2015 is an international language of business that sets the context to be able to look at the opportunities for your organization.

When you start talking about the scope- what's going to work in that country, in that market, with those people? Particularly in hospitality, countries that allow alcohol and the countries that don't allow alcohol would have a different scope. Obviously, an alcohol campaign or an alcohol supply is not going to work in some countries as it would in others, and that's something that's important to consider.

When you talk about regulatory requirements and get further down into the standard, you're looking at legal requirements, interested parties and stakeholders. Not only that, but also what the type of food is it that you can sell, who is your audience, we talk about they can't eat certain foods for their beliefs.

With all those sorts of things: Is there risk? Is there an opportunity? Is there a niche? Is there some white space that you can move into, that's the intention of ISO 9001? To drive all those amazing things and give you that real opportunity to look at what's happening out there.

Think about things like: Where does it apply? Is it going to be a whole organization globally? Is it going to be our whole organization in this country, or are you a small business and it's the five or ten or 50 of you in your team? Are you a school? Are you a university? Are you a manufacturing facility? Are you a factory? Are you a service centre? Are you a bank?

All those different sorts of organizations, who are your customers, who your stakeholders, think about those things and think about the amazing opportunity that you guys have got to help those customers.

How are those customers feeling, what more can you guys do out there to make them feel amazing, that's the real magic in ISO 9001.

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