A reminder: what is ISO 9001?
ISO 9001 sets out the criteria for a quality management system and can be used by any organisation as a standard basis for a number of quality management principles. Strong customer focus, motivation and implication of top management, the process approach and continual improvement all form ISO 9001. By having a quality management system, a business can state its objectives, put their customers first and create new business opportunities through organisational progression.
ISO 9001 provides a solid, consistent base for regulations and a stable set of requirements for regulators. Customers who use ISO 9001 accredited suppliers can be confident they are providing quality.
A modern quality standard: why was ISO 9001 revised?
ISO allows a three-year transition period from the date of publication (September 2015) for companies to integrate the revisions, set to end in September 2018.
For quality to remain relevant in the marketplace, it’s important to recognise that external contributions change the significance of some standards. For example, areas like technology have impacted not only the way in which we live, but also the way in which we work and therefore how organisations operate. Further to this, globalisation has meant that organisations have developed complex supply chains with increased expectations from customers.
While the prescriptive 9001 standards of last century worked well for the time, they focussed on documentation. The new standard focuses more on organisational performance, which is much more relevant to today’s working environment.
What were the improvements to ISO 9001: 2015?
There is an increased focus on ‘top management’ and the need to demonstrate ‘leadership and commitment’ in the latest version of the standards. The high-level structure follows the same as other ISO system standards so it can be used by all companies using multi-management systems. Within the revision, leadership should take accountability for Quality Management Systems (QMS) by promoting the revisions, supporting and assigning relevant roles, as well as ensuring the QMS achieves its intended results.
With more prominence on risk-based thinking, the new revisions address organisational risk and emphasise the structure: ‘plan, do, check, act’ which breaks down further to include:
- Understanding the context of the organisation with regards to external and internal issues to identify interested parties and their requirements
- Adequate resources to ensure effectiveness of the QMS, including considerations of: people and infrastructure, competence, awareness, communication and documented knowledge
- Monitoring, measuring, analysing and evaluating performance
- Check customer satisfaction
- Increased focus on internal audits and management reviews
- Increased emphasis on nonconformity and corrective action
There is a need to align the QMS, policy and SMART objectives with the strategic direction of the business for continual improvement. By introducing prescriptive requirements to help the organisation determine ‘comprehensive opportunities for improvement’, ISO 9001:2015 should guarantee that customers’ needs are met and monitored.
Other operational revisions, simply put, include:
- A process-orientated approach for design and development
- Greater control of external providers
- Monitoring and measuring activities with acceptance criteria for products and services
- Increased focus on “Post Delivery Activities”
- Increased focus on Statutory / Regulatory requirements
With this in mind, how will SOCOTEC change to meet these revisions and guarantee quality?
SOCOTEC will revise several sections of its QMS and support documentation, to create a ‘Quality Aspects Register’ to include all parties and risk assessment elements. This will be reviewed continuously to keep it as a dynamic document.
Further to this, suppliers and subcontractors will be included from the outset when job planning, with increased communication being put in place and a transparent plan produced to ensure consistent quality.
SOCOTEC is ISO 9001 certified to demonstrate that quality standards have been implemented properly.