From the archives: The Transition from ISO 9000:1994 to ISO 9000:2000

By Dan Nelson

This document describes the means by which compliance to the ISO 9000 series of standards will be determined as registered companies change from their current revision (1994) to the year 2000 revision. Bear in mind that transition criteria may vary slightly from Accreditation Body to Accreditation Body (and therefore from Registrar to Registrar), just as the interpretation of the current requirements varies somewhat.

Six Registrars were surveyed regarding the transition. The following questions were asked of them:

  • Assuming that a company is currently registered to ISO 9001:1994, how and when will a Registrar determine if the company’s quality system meets the requirements of ISO 9001:2008?
  • What criteria or guidelines have been established to make this determination?

The Registrars surveyed were among those known to have an active presence in the area: ABS, BSI, BVQI, NSAI, Orion and TUV. Some background for each Registrar is provided below, as are any specific thoughts offered in response to the above questions. Three Accreditation Bodies were also queried: RAB, RvA, and UKAS. Their responses are addressed later.

Despite the uncertainty felt by many companies faced with changing standards, registrars feel that they know basically how their organizations will handle the transition.

Although the specific language of the standard is uncertain, the Registrars’ auditing approach will probably be affected very little. Orion seemed to capture the sentiment of the of the group: “It’s really no big deal…” Not to imply that the Registrars are unconcerned, but rather they are confident that the transition will not be difficult—even with the uncertainty surrounding the details.

There is a distinct possibility that some transition guidance will emerge from TC 176, from the International Accreditation Forum (IAF) and/or from Accreditation Bodies. If no such guidance is produced, however, the year 2000 transition would most probably be like the 1994 transition.

According to that scenario, here’s what’s likely to happen:

  • Each Registrar, as an organization, will adopt a set of internal criteria for handling the transition. These criteria will address not only the changes to the requirements of the standard, but they must also include a scheme by which they recommend existing clients for certification to the revised standard.
  • The Registrars will then create a plan for achieving the changeover. They will document this plan (a quality plan) as required by their own quality system, just as a company certified to ISO 9001 will “define and document how the requirements for quality will be met”. (Certainly at this juncture, as part of planning, Registrars would consider any advisement of their Accreditation Bodies or other authorities, if any is provided.)

Certainly this planning will address the revision of checklists to incorporate the new or revised requirements. It will also include plans for training the organizations’ auditors to interpret and assess the new requirements. Most Registrars also plan to provide their clients with guidance for how to address the new criteria.

For companies that are already registered, the Registrar may plan to audit them to the new requirements during a surveillance audit, or perhaps over the course of two or three surveillance audits. Some Registrars re-certify their clients every three years anyway, so they might plan to audit entire systems for compliance to the new requirements as part of a re-certification audit. For those companies pursuing certification for the first time, they will be audited to the new standard.

  • Registrars will then submit their transition plans to their respective Accreditation Bodies. Accreditation Bodies ensure that Registrars’ auditing activities remain in compliance with ISO Guide 62, the guide applying to, you guessed it, the auditing activities of Registrars. Just as a Registrar determines compliance of a quality system to ISO 9001, the Accreditation Body determines compliance of a Registrar’s system to ISO Guide 62. So, Accreditation Bodies will review the Registrars’ plans to ensure that systems are in place to handle the transition and that the systems remain compliant with the guidelines of ISO Guide 62. (If the Accreditation Body provided a Registrar with guidance earlier, the body would also here determine if the guidance was properly addressed.) As plans are approved by the Accreditation Bodies, Registrars will return to their business of determining compliance to quality standards.
  • The Registrars’ auditors will then assess their clients’ quality systems according to their revised checklists. As mentioned earlier, this may be done during surveillance audits or during recertification audits. The Registrar might assess compliance to just one of the new elements, planning to capture the balance of the new requirements during subsequent surveillance audits, or the entire system may be audited for compliance to all of the new elements at once.
  • When an audit is concluded, the Registrar will send the Audit Report to the Accreditation Body (or Bodies). The Accreditation Body will review the Audit Report (and will occasionally conduct audits) to ensure that the Registrar is sticking to the stated plan. If everything is in order a certificate will be issued, much like business as usual.

As can be seen from this account, Registrars have successfully ushered in transitions to new revisions of standards with little or no guidance from external bodies. So, any guidelines or directives provided to them (supplemental to any Accreditation Body advisement) will be more guidance than they had with the 1994 transition. Perhaps this is partially the basis for the Registrars’ confidence that the transition will not be difficult to achieve.

The Registrars

Registrar Services/Courses Offered Accreditations Ongoing Assessment Scheme
ABS (American Bureau of Shipping)
Over 3,100 registrations worldwide to various standards
ISO 9000
ISO 14000
AS 9000
QS 9000
TE supplement
RAB
RvA
INMETRO
6-month or 12-month surveillance without
re-certification at the
3-year mark*

ABS had very little to say about the transition. They believed that a transition guideline would be published by TC 176, but a draft of the document would not be available for “a few months”. To their knowledge, the document is not yet titled.

Registrar Services/Courses Offered Accreditations Ongoing Assessment Scheme
BSI (British Standards Institute)
Over 32,000 registrations worldwide to various standards
ISO 9000
ISO 14000
AS 9000
QS 9000
CE Marking
TickIT
TL 9000
Kitemark
TE Supplement
VDA 6.1
BS 7799
EN 46000
UKAS
RvA
INMETRO
RAB
6-month surveillance without renewal or recertification*

BSI says that they will allow their clients two years to complete the transition. They will determine compliance during surveillance audits.

Registrar Services/Courses Offered Accreditations Ongoing Assessment Scheme
BVQI (Bureau Veritas Quality International)
Over 17,000 registrations worldwide to various standards
ISO 9000
ISO 14000
AS 9000
QS 9000
SA 8000
CE Marking
EN 46000
TickIT
TL 9000
TE Supplement
TSSA
RAB
UKAS
RvA
SCC
Cofrac
Sweda
Belcert
Swiss
DAR
Sincert
Danak
JAS-ANZ INMETRO ENAC
JAB
A 3-year certificate is issued.* Surveillance audits are usually conducted every 6 months, but they may be done at 9 or 12 months, if appropriate. There is a recertification audit after 3 years.

BVQI speculated that they will offer their clients a choice. They will either audit the system for compliance to the new requirements during a client’s three-year recertification audit, or, they will audit the new requirements during surveillance audits. They will recommend the client for certification to the year 2000 revision (or whatever year it happens to be) only after compliance to all of the new elements has been verified. This latter option may take a year or two to complete.

Registrar Services/Courses Offered Accreditations Ongoing Assessment Scheme
NSAI (National Standards Authority of Ireland)
Over 2,000 registrations worldwide to various standards
ISO 9000
ISO 14000
QS 9000
CE Marking
EN 46000
RAB
NAB
6-month surveillance without recertification at the 3-year mark*

NSAI said that they will complete the transition with their clients within one year after the new standard is adopted officially. NSAI will also determine compliance during surveillance audits.

Registrar Services/Courses Offered Accreditations Ongoing Assessment Scheme
Orion
Over 160 registrations worldwide to various standards
ISO 9000
ISO 14000
QS 9000
TE Supplement
AS 9000
CE Marking
RvA
SCC
6-month or 12-month surveillance without recertification at the 3-year mark *

Orion says that they will offer their clients a choice for for handling the change-over. Either it will be done in one audit prior to a three-year renewal or it will be done in increments during surveillance audits. They said it may take a year to a year and a half to implement the change according to the latter option.

Registrar Services/Courses Offered Accreditations Ongoing Assessment Scheme
TUV Management Services
Over 9,000 certificates issued worldwide to various standards.
ISO 9000
ISO 14000
QS 9000
AS 9000
TE Supplement
EN 4600
VDA 6.1
CE Marking
RAB
DAR
Surveillance audits are conducted either every 6* or 12 months. When it is done every 12 months, a recertification audit is conducted after three years.

TUV said that to his knowledge, TUV handled the 1994 transition in a unique fashion. TUV honored the validity of the expiration date for all ISO certificates. So they gave their clients until the expiration date on the (three-year) certificate to be compliant to the revised standard. TUV said that, barring any external direction, the year 2000 transition will be handled just like the 1994 transition.

* Some Accreditation Bodies require Registrars to renew or recertify clients every three years, especially if the Registrar performs annual surveillances. Therefore some Registrars (like ABS, Orion or NSAI) may, at the end of the 3-year mark, review the client’s quality system documentation and examine any trends in surveillance audit results over the 3-year period. If no major negative trends are discovered, the certificate will be re-issued or renewed. Some Registrars (like BVQI) will conduct a full system audit after a 3-year certificate expires, and then will recertify the client. Other Registrars (like BSI) will conduct surveillances every 6 months and will not ever require renewal or recertification. Still other Registrars (like TUV) will offer a choice between these options or some combination thereof. Of course all of the above depends upon the requirements of the Registrar’s Accreditation Body.

The Accreditation Bodies

Registrar Accreditation Board (RAB)
RAB described the “normal process” for handling the transition between one revision of a standard to another. They described the methods by which Accreditation Bodies will usually handle a transition:

  • The first way that transition guidance may be established for an Accreditation Body is through the direction of an external organization, such as the body who promulgated the standard, in this case TC 176. They said that the external organization might also establish a date by which the transition must be complete.
  • If no direction is provided as described above, Accreditation Bodies may determine how the transition will be accomplished according to the direction of the IAF, a group of (currently sixteen) Accreditation Bodies.
  • The IAF may prescribe an implementation plan that will be communicated to all Accreditation Bodies, who will flow down the requirements to Registrars. Accreditation Bodies may also directly contact each other to ensure that their courses of action are consistent. If the IAF provides no direction, the scenario described earlier for what happened in 1994 takes precedence. In this case, the Accreditation Body will often provide Registrars with a “Letter of Advisement” outlining any necessary transition guidance, sometimes including a date by which the transition must be complete.

RAB speculated that guidance for the year 2000 transition will be developed according to the first method described here, although they declined to speculate as to whom this guidance would apply. If it applies to Accreditation Bodies, the guidance may be incorporated in a Letter of Advisement, which would be sent to Registrars as described above. Or, if it applies to Registrars, the Registrars will include the guidelines or directives as part of their quality planning. Then the process described for the 1994 transition could then be followed again, except the Accreditation Body would not only verify the Registrar’s internal plans for the transition, but the body would also verify that the Registrar’s plans incorporate any applicable external guidance or directives.

Raad Voor Accreditatie (RvA)

RvA said that they have not yet set a policy for handling the transition, as they are awaiting final acceptance and translation of the standard. They expect that the RvA will not have an official policy until mid-2001. They said that normally when a new or revised standard is adopted, the RvA will establish a policy and procedure for how to proceed with assessing and recommending clients for certification. The procedure will be flowed down to Registrars, who will normally give their clients one year to comply.

United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS)

UKAS said that the year 2000 revisions will require more auditor training than the 1994 transition did. This is so because the year 2000 standard will be more geared toward improvement, whereas the 1994 standard is more concerned with compliance. So they believe that some extensive, skill-based training will be in order. UKAS is also awaiting publication of the final draft before making any definitive statements about how they will handle the transition. They surmised that the transition will be similar to the 1994 transition, except that they, too, expect some guidance from the IAF or TC 176. They said that UKAS will develop a transition plan, including a completion date, and will communicate the plan to all of its Registrars. UKAS will likely allow one year to complete the transition (as they did in 1994).

Two Final Notes

  1. According to a document posted on ISO’s website, “A major requirement of the ISO 9000 revision process is that organizations which have implemented the current ISO 9000 standards will find it easy to transition to the revised standards. . . transition planning guidance is being produced.” The nature of this “transition planning guidance” is not addressed, but this entry may well be alluding to the guidance being developed by TC 176.TC 176 is indeed developing transition guidance. The level at which such guidance will be introduced is as yet undetermined. Its method of publication has not yet been determined and neither has its content been finalized. As mentioned before, RAB would not speculate as to whom this guidance would apply—the Accreditation Bodies, the Registrars, or the end users. Being “close to members of TC 176”, RAB said that they do “not expect final answers to these questions anytime this year”. RvA and UKAS felt that the guidance document will most probably be geared toward Registrars and/or users of the standard and not Accreditation Bodies. The publication of such a guidance document represents a difference from the transition between the 1987 and the 1994 version. No guidance document was ever published by ISO to facilitate the change-over from 1987 to 1994. However, the 1994 revisions to the standard were relatively minor when compared to the proposed year 2000 revisions.
  2. The year 2000 revisions to the ISO 9000 series of standards will most likely have some effect on other ISO 9000-related standards like ISO 14000, QS 9000 and AS 9000.ISO TC 207 (the committee responsible for ISO 14000) has considered revising ISO 14000 to accommodate the revision to ISO 9000. However, further consideration is pending the official publication of ISO 9000:2008. Since QS 9000 recently underwent revision to the 3rd Edition (last year), not much is being said yet about how it will be revised to accommodate the change in ISO 9000. According to representatives from SAE the body responsible for revising AS 9000—the American Aerospace Quality Group (AAQG)—met two weeks ago. During the meeting, two major suggestions for revision to AS 9000 were considered. The first came from Boeing, who presented 17 specific proposed revisions to the standard. The second source of proposed revisions dealt with the goal to harmonize AS 9000 with EN 9000 (the European standard containing requirements for the Aerospace industry above those contained in ISO 9000). Currently the group is most concerned with addressing these two bodies of revisions. The committee is not speculating about how or if AS 9000 will accommodate the year 2000 revisions to ISO 9000. Scott suggested that the committee would most likely harmonize AS 9000 with EN 9000 and incorporate the Boeing suggestions first, and then when the official revisions to ISO 9000 are adopted they will consider revising the harmonized AS/EN 9000 standard to be aligned with the new ISO 9000 standards.