ISO 9001 – What is going to happen after September?

September 15, 2018. About ten years after being introduced ISO 9001:2008 will be withdrawn. If you remember the 2008 changes – they were minimal. Indeed the standard has not changed since 2000. So after 18 years, the old standard will be withdrawn.

Often we hear criticism about how the standard changes too frequently but even if it was substantial changes every time that would still be only every 8 or 9 years. If your management system is not evolving faster than that you have more significant problems than a new standard. A change in the standard is an excuse to review things, push them, get everyone to improve.

Despite any prior warnings, it is reasonably sure that September will come and go without any fanfare and nothing notable. Anyone needing to beat the Sept 15 deadline should have already transitioned. There might be some last-minute questions but no frenzy and nothing unusual.

However, what happens after September 15th?

The new standard has explicitly included many new requirements that encompass the strategic activities a company has. The strategy was probably always implied in ISO, but because it was not explicit, organizations minimized it, and certification auditors ignored it. The development of a clear direction for the organization is essential. It’s the basis of creating a culture and leading the organization where it needs to go and like everything else in the organization will form the basis of what quality is trying to achieve. ISO doesn’t demand complicated procedures, but it requires some discipline and definition, and this is a significant enhancement. The procedures should pull the whole organization together. If organizations have transitioned and done it well – the benefits are going to start coming.

The benefits are many. Organizations used to minimize the ISO control over their objectives and their change management activities. ISO has circumvented this too, insisting on meaningful and valuable goals with detail to ensure they will be reached. Similarly, it asks for the detail behind providing change is managed effectively. There is no downside to this, just more benefits.

Organizations who transitioned, who implemented these new requirements, controls, processes, need to reflect on them and reorganize them as necessary to ensure they maximize the value from them. If they cut corners, it's time to review and optimize. It is fair to appreciate that some organizations did just that to transition. They thought they understood the requirement, the auditor explained it differently but passed them. Now there is time. Focus on the benefits and start to get the value from the system.

Some organizations decided not to transition. They typically did not get any value from ISO and did it because a customer demanded it. They complained about competitors without ISO getting contracts and did not promote their ISO. The costs of some significant changes with this transition were enough for them to put it off to save the effort and the money. The question here is “Will ISO 9001 go away”? If the standard is going to be dropped then these organizations will be on the leading edge. However, that is not likely. ISO still provides benefits for any customer. A customer can demand it without much effort and it “should” assure quality.

Moreover, customers also see these changes coming in, and they see them as hopeful to further the assurance of their supplier base (which fundamentally is all they are concerned about – as well as the cost of course). Agreed there are some circumstances where ISO doesn’t work for customers, but those organizations, those that claim ISO but let their customers down are usually dropped quite quickly by customers. So, if you did not transition, that may prove to be a mistake.

Some organizations did not transition on time but recognize or have been told by their customers that they need to get it back. If they are quick, then the transition will be an upgrade project to their previous system. If they leave it too long, then it will be like starting again.

It is hard to perceive a situation where ISO will go away. The basic principles behind ISO are hard to ignore and done right it will work well for both the customer and the organization. If organizations do it right, do it well then there are few contrary arguments, and there are serious benefits to be gained.

Cavendish Scott has been helping organizations obtain the benefits from ISO for over 30 years. We have always taken a process approach and applied the management system principles in a meaningful and valuable way for the organization. Practical solutions in an easy-to-maintain solution that reflects the way the organization works. If you have any questions about your current management system or transition or improvement of your system, then talk to Cavendish Scott.

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