Context of the Organization is a new term in the recently released ISO standards.  It’s a term that many folks are confused by – there are no definitions provided by ISO, although there is significant guidance.

Context of the Organization = Internal and External issues

context of the organization definition

geralt / Pixabay


In a recent LinkedIn post, I provided a list of Internal and External issues that an organization may need to consider when determining context.



External issues may include

  • cultural, social, political, natural surroundings
  • competitors, contractors, and customers
  • key industry drivers
  • changes in regulations

Internal issues may include

  • activities, products, services
  • organizational structure, roles, accountability
  • policies, objectives, strategies / strategic direction
  • organizational culture
  • capabilities (people, resources, processes, system, knowledge)

So, how are we to determine which of these makes sense for our organization?

mcdonald consulting group ISO workshop

geralt / Pixabay

We cover this in detail during our Transition Workshops – including a worksheet where we dig in to this topic in detail; and when we are on site providing implementation support (Gap Implementation), we often spend a 1/2 day fleshing this one clause out fully.


Why is it so important to define context of the organization so completely?  Very simple – it’s the building block base of the rest of the standard.  Scope is built on context; policy is aligned with context; etc.

Nailing the context of the organization is key to having a hassle-free implementation – let us help you define it correctly and completely!

Want more details on Internal and External Issues?  Subscribe to my newsletter to get a more in-depth analysis; and read next week’s posts when we dig into these in more detail…