Why Transition? Key changes to the standards

The International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) standards are in the process of being overhauled, and updated into a more contemporary context. Every five years the standards are reviewed to ensure they remain influential in our remarkably dynamic, interconnected business world. It then comes as no surprise that ISO 9001:2008 and ISO 14001:2004 have done just that: with three years for businesses to transition to the new standards ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 14001:2015.

Before we get into what’s changed, let's discuss the reason why.

In ISO’s words, the standards are designed to “help businesses and organisations be more efficient and improve customer satisfaction”. As part of the plan, do, check, act - P.D.C.A - cycle, ISO themselves review and revise each of their standards to ensure they remain instrumental in sparking change within a business. The most obvious example of a driving force behind the need to change is the increasing globalisation between markets, along with the development of the Internet’s impact on how we do business; the new way in which customers can connect... be it in a positive or a negative way with your business.

So what are the major changes? And what are you required to do to transition your certification to the updated standards? The answer may come as a pleasant surprise.

Arguably the biggest change to the standards is the new structure. ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 14001:2015 have adopted the high-level Annex SL structure. Leaving the technical jargon aside, this new structure makes it more accessible for you and your organisation to engage with your system, and most importantly, combine multiple systems. For example, ISO 9001 can and should be combined with ISO14001 to get maximum performance with both systems working in harmony.

Judging by the feedback from some of our clients who have implemented multiple management systems, the easier integration has been well received. The standards use common language and match sub-clauses between standards to increase the efficiency of your business’ operations. According to the standard itself “this International Standard enables an organisation to use the process approach, coupled with the PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Act) cycle and risk-based thinking, to align or integrate its quality management system with the requirement of other management system standards”. Clause A.1 details “The structure of clauses (in the new standard) are intended to provide a coherent presentation of requirements, rather than a model for documenting an organisation’s policies, objectives and processes”.

It continues: “The structure and content of documented information related to a quality management system can often be more relevant to users if it relates to both the processes operated by the organisation and information maintained for other purposes”. So, there has been a clear move from ISO to harmonise a number of its standards, to make it easier for you.

Notably, there’s a new emphasis on leadership; something we here at Best Practice have recognised and put into practice within our business. In ISO 9001:2015 section 5, it lists a total of ten points on leadership, including, but not limited to: “taking accountability for the effectiveness of the system b) ensuring that quality policy and quality objectives are established for the system” and “d) promoting of the process approach and risk-based thinking”. Above all, the new standard calls on top management to be the force of change throughout the business, in both establishing and communicating the policies.

In addition to this, and perhaps more significantly, there’s a new rhetoric involving the consideration and execution of risk-based thinking. If you’ve connected with us across our social media platforms, you’ve no doubt heard our CEO, Kobi Simmat, talk about the dangers of complacency in the context of business. ISO has also recognised this, and is now placing an emphasis on a future-proofing with the removal of preventative actions. They have now highlighted risk-based thinking in the decision-making process. Section 6.1.2 directly addresses this, “The organisation shall plan: a) actions to address these risks and opportunities” as well as information on how to “1) integrate and implement the actions into its quality management system processes”, and “2) evaluate the effectiveness of these actions”. The standard goes on to state “Actions taken to address risks and opportunities shall be proportionate to the potential impact on the conformity of products and services”. This last point amalgamates the intentions of the new standard to increase knowledge on the context of your business operations, as well as the potential risks and dangers.

The benefits of the changes to the standards will pay dividends in the context of your business, largely due to the increased importance placed on leadership, a structure that directly addresses risks and underperformance, a simplified and easier to understand language throughout the standard, and changes to the way in which supply chains are managed in our increasingly connected business environment. There is also the noteworthy addition of addressing the context of the organisation in a more effective way, in both the internal and external issues that influence your business’ operations. By taking this into account, ISO has designed a system that will more effectively slide into your business, while allowing you access to the steering wheel to drive the company in the direction you’d like in the future.

For more information on Transitioning your ISO 9001:2008 or ISO 14001:2004 certifications, visit the Best Practice Online Training Academy for training courses.

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