Quality Standard in Focus - ISO 9001: 2015

[fa icon="calendar"] Wed, Jul 19, 2017 / by Tim Lozier

The 2015 revision of ISO 9001 is driving the development of quality culture in today’s businesses. What demands does this make of today’s businesses?


The ISO 9001 standard sets out criteria for best practice for the operation of quality management processes and systems and is a valuable way for an organization to assess its ability to meet customer and regulatory requirements. The first iteration of the standard came into force in 1987, though there have been a series of updates including, most recently, the ISO 9001: 2015 standard.

For those organizations already certified to ISO 9001, there is now a three-year transition period – until September 2018 – to get certified to ISO 9001:2015. Those that fail to do so – or those looking for certification for the first time – will have to go through an entirely new audit and registration process. 

The standard offers organizations across all industries and sectors an opportunity to improve output quality, enhance efficiency and lower operating costs – and ultimately to secure better levels of customer satisfaction. It also offers positive impacts on leadership, management and supplier relationships. 

The 2015 update followed increasing recognition that customers now expect much more of the organizations with which they have dealings. But also, at a time when supply chains have become increasingly complex, new technologies are emerging, and issues such as sustainability and reputation management are to the fore, quality management systems must do more. 

This has led to several key changes. For example, the 2015 standard now explicitly sets out a requirement for organizations to approach quality management through a clear process – the so-called PDCA (plan, do check, act) protocol. It also requires organizations to establish a systematic approach to consider risk, rather than adopting prevision as a separate component of a quality management system. 

Another significant difference is that the latest version of the standard has moved from a focus on “management leadership” to “leadership.” The organization’s leadership must be accountable for the effectiveness of the quality system, ensure objectives are compatible with strategy, promote use of process approach and risk-based thinking and support relevant management roles. 

The 2015 update has also introduced the concept of the “context of the organization.” The idea is to encourage leaders and quality managers to think more strategically about the environment in which they operate and the internal and external factors that may have an impact on the organization. The precise strategic imperatives will vary according to the nature of the organization, but it will be important to be able to show that quality management is fundamentally embedded in every part of the organization. 

Download our eGuide and find out more about the latest thinking on quality and compliance management processes The Quality and Compliance Management Handbook: Supporting a Quality Culture Across Your Business

The Quality and Compliance Management Handbook: Supporting a Quality Culture Across Your Business

Tim Lozier

Written by Tim Lozier

Tim is the Manager for Marketing and Strategy at EtQ, Inc.

Post a Comment

Subscribe to the Blog

EHS Risk Management Guidebook: A Practical How-To Guide