Strong growth in energy and food management system standards, according to ISO survey

As the world evolves, it continues to trust ISO management systems standards to keep its organizations performing well. At least, that’s what transpires from the latest ISO Survey of Certifications.

The economy changes and we must change with it. But this doesn’t seem to dent the appeal and relevance of ISO’s management systems standards, as confirmed by the ISO Survey of Certifications 2014*, which gives a worldwide panorama of certifications issued to these fundamental standards. Interest is such, in fact, that a newcomer – ISO 22301 for business continuity – has been included in the annual survey, bringing the sum total to eight standards instead of the usual seven. In a world increasingly plagued by natural and human-induced disaster, the standard is already receiving keen interest from businesses worldwide wishing to obtain certification, which attests to its vast potential user base.

The latest edition of the survey indicates that most ISO management systems standards have now reached a steady cruising speed, a sign of their current – and future – longevity on the market. But while maturity sets in, three strong performers stand out of the crowd in the fields of energy management (ISO 50001, still flourishing with 40 %), food management (ISO 22000, with a respectable 14 %) and, to a lesser degree, the automotive sector (ISO/TS 16949), whose 8 % growth reflects the market’s recent, but ongoing, recovery.

Bearing out a trend that began a few years ago, the global share of certificates to ISO 9001 (quality management) and ISO 14001 (environmental management) has stabilized, with ISO 9001 showing a small 1 % growth while ISO 14001 picked up slightly from last year with an honourable 7 %.

So two decades on, have ISO’s flagship management standards become long in the tooth? Not necessarily. Simply, many of the world’s largest firms have now been certified and are branching out to more specific standards such as ISO 50001 for energy management. Yet despite adoption of ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 maturing in many markets, that’s not to say they aren’t still loved, and the new editions released in September 2015 are expected to give the standards a fresh lease of life.

ISO Survey – Executive summary


Vote starts on final draft of ISO 9001

Management system standard ISO 9001 has reached the final stage of the revision process. ISO member countries have 2 months to form a national position and vote on the latest draft of the standard before the 9 September deadline.

A vote on an earlier draft (Draft International Standard – or DIS) of the revised ISO 9001 was approved in November 2014 by around 90% of members, but the committee also received over 3 000 comments with suggestions on possible improvements.

Since then, the committee has met twice, in Ireland and Lithuania, and carried out extensive online discussions to analyze and decide on every comment received during the vote. Now that a final draft (FDIS) has been completed and translated, ISO members will proceed with a national consultation before submitting their final vote.

We asked Nigel Croft, Chair of the ISO subcommittee revising the standard (ISO/TC 176/SC 2), whether there were any major changes in the latest draft.

“Compared to the DIS, changes are relatively minor. The most extensive ones have been to the Introduction and figures, which have been greatly simplified, with some of the explanatory text being moved to an informative Annex. The terms and definitions have now been removed from the standard and added to ISO 9000.

“Other than a general ‘tidying-up’ of the overall text, and greater consistency in the use of specific terms, there have been a number of small technical changes. For example, top management must now promote the use of risk-based thinking in addition to a process approach. We have also added explanations about the process environment applied to service organizations, and greater requirements for production and service activities to prevent human error.”

Although changes at this stage of the process have not been significant, we asked Nigel whether he thought the new ISO 9001 will differ greatly from previous versions.

“Definitely! This is the result of an evolutionary process, bringing ISO 9001 firmly into the 21st century. The first versions of ISO 9001 (in 1987 and 1994) were quite prescriptive with many specific requirements for documented procedures and records; in 2000 we introduced the process approach, which focused on managing processes, and required less documentation. This was maintained in the 2008 revision.

“We have now gone a step further, and ISO 9001:2015 is even less prescriptive than its predecessor, but with an underlying philosophy that ‘output matters’. For example, are processes achieving their planned results? Is the system delivering on its promise to provide confidence in an organization’s ability to offer conforming products and services? In other words, ISO 9001:2015 is very much performance-based, with a focus on what has to be achieved rather than how to achieve it. We have achieved this by combining the process approach with risk-based thinking, and employing the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle at all levels in the organization, while taking into consideration the context in which the organization operates.”

Finally, we asked Nigel if he had any advice for users of ISO 9001.

“Quite simply, read and digest the final draft of the standard as soon as it is published; consult the various guidance documents that are available on ISO’s and the subcommittee’s websites. Think of this new version as an opportunity to improve your Quality Management System, rather than as a new set of requirements that have to be met.”

To obtain a copy of the ISO 9001 FDIS contact your national member body.

ISO 9001 is one of ISO’s most well-known standards, with more than 1.1 million certificates worldwide. It provides requirements to help companies demonstrate that they can offer their customers consistent, good quality products and services. It also provides a framework to help them streamline their processes and become more efficient at what they do. ISO 9001 can be used by organizations of all types and sizes. The standard has inspired a series of documents for sector-specific applications including for the automotive sector, the medical sector, local governments and more.

ISO 9001 is undergoing the periodic revision standards generally go through every 3 to 5 years to ensure they are relevant and up-to-date. The new edition is expected in September 2015.


The future of the Quality Manual in ISO 9001:2015

A Quality Manual will no longer be a mandatory document, according to the available version of the DIS ISO 9001:2015 standard. How did that happen? The Quality Manual was one of the first documents that a certification body asked for before the certification audit. How has it suddenly lost its purpose and importance?

Most Quality Manuals manage to formally meet the requirements of the ISO 9001 standard, and yet miss the point of the document. The result is one of the most fundamental documents of a QMS that no one reads – except for a few masochistic certification auditors.

I have often run into Quality Manuals with 20+ (sometimes even 50+) pages, and I started wondering whether it should be called a “quality management system,” or a “quantity management system.” There was too much duplicated or unnecessary information, and so many details that I ended up feeling sorry for the tree that was cut down to make paper for this pile of unnecessary information.

Having a Quality Manual, in my opinion, wasn’t a bad idea. It is a document where the organization presents itself, its quality management system, and even its way of thinking and approach to quality management. Common practice was to (besides the requirements from clause 4.2.2) include some requirements from clause 4.1 and some other requirements that were easier to document through a Quality Manual.

A lucid, short, and clear Quality Manual gives the impression of an organization that knows what it is doing – an organization that really manages its quality management system. A good Quality Manual facilitates the job of the auditor, and gives him the opportunity to better audit the system – and, with his observations, really contribute to improvement of the system.  And what is more important, such Quality Manual is useful to the management representative and process owners because it provides an overall insight into the quality management system.

Big companies often require their suppliers to have a quality management system, and they may demand to see a Quality Manual during selection of suppliers. What impression does your Quality Manual give about your company? A bulky Quality Manual says that you would rather spend resources instead of applying a creative approach.

Writing a good Quality Manual is not that hard: define the scope of your QMS, list the exclusions (to find out more about exclusions in ISO 9001:2008, read this article What is an acceptable exclusion in clause 7 of ISO 9001) if there are any exclusions, and justifications for them, describe interactions between your processes (preferably through a process flowchart), and list all the QMS procedures you use – and that is all. See also Writing a short Quality Manual.
To be or not to be

With or without a Quality Manual, organizations will still need some overall QMS document. There will still be a need to send the certification body a document that will describe your system, as well as sending it to big clients. Although it’s no longer mandatory, all requirements from the Quality Manual, except 4.2.2 b), remain in the new version of the standard. The scope of the QMS and interactions between the processes still need to be defined. These requirements are even more detailed in the new version, and they still must be in some form of documented information.

The new version of the standard has some new requirements that need to be met as documented information, which can be easily included in a Quality Manual – for example, the context of the organization.
Same idea, different form

This new non-mandatory document (whatever we call it) that will replace the Quality Manual will contain all remaining requirements from clause 4.2.2, and I would add some new ones.

This new document should provide the following information about the organization:

We are XYZ company;
we are producing this and providing these services;
we apply a quality management system to these processes;
we don’t apply these clauses of the standard for these reasons;
these are our processes and their interactions;
and, this is the internal and external context in which we operate.

This can be considered an oversimplification, and of course all this information can’t be placed in just one paragraph, but this document would make sense and it would meet most of the requirements from clause 4 of the new version of the standard. Additionally, the organization’s mission and vision can be added, and this document can effectively become the brochure that will introduce your company to future clients.

This new version of the standard is not a slave to formality (Is this a good thing? Only time will tell…) and will require a more creative approach for getting the maximum out of each requirement, adapting to the organization’s needs instead of piling up useless documents.