Substantial Changes to ISO Standards Are On The Horizon

Resistance to change is part of human nature. Although ISO standards exist to drive continuous improvement and success, they can also be seen as hollow expenditures that do not increase profitability.


The most recent update to the ISO standards was in 2008. Unfortunately, onlookers were sorely disappointed by the woefully insignificant changes. This revision failed to improve assurances or increase value in any measurable way. The onslaught of complaints was answered by claims of insufficient input offered by the industry.


The coming changes are much more substantial. Two of the most significant changes include the introduction of a common core to be used throughout the ISO standards and modification of specific language used in individual standards.

Management Systems

The ISO standards that focus on management systems (ISO 9001, ISO 14001, ISO 27001) describe how business goals are achieved by the consistent definition and application of management system processes. These management system processes include many supporting activities in an organization, for example, management issues, documentation, competency, resources, measurements, and corrective action.

Common Core

Essential to every organization, management system standards often share common core content. Beginning with the upcoming revisions, this common core will be present throughout all of the ISO standards. The core content may be altered for individual standards but is typically left as it stands.


The other significant change in the upcoming ISO revisions involves the specific language used in the standard itself. Areas that have been problematic or vague in the past will be more explicit or clipped short.

For example, the section on preventative action in the current ISO 9001 standard is imprecise. According to current reports, the revised standard will replace preventive action with the term “risk”. While the impacting nature of this term serves to motivate the user to think ahead, its usefulness may be greatly diminished in the absence of a detailed explanation.

Hopefully, this aspect will be addressed in more detail in the final version of the standard. It would greatly diminish the effectiveness of the application of the ISO standard if the topic of preventative action were underplayed.


The revision of ISO 9001 is not expected to be published until 2015 while the revised ISO 14001, expected in 2014 may be delayed to 2015, and the revised ISO 27001 may be published as early as the end of 2013. Cavendish Scott is committed to remaining up-to-date on these changes as they develop and will host training and review/discussion opportunities to assist ISO-conscious companies who wish to stay abreast of ISO updates.

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