Context of the Organization – Internal Issues
Context requires an organization to “determine external and internal issues that are relevant to its purpose and that affect its ability to achieve the intended outcomes of its __________ management system.” (ISO 14001:2015 clause 4.1 – environmental; or DIS 45001 clause 4.1 – OH&S) or “are relevant to its purpose and its strategic direction and that affect its ability to achieve the intended result(s) of its quality management system” (ISO 9001:2015 clause 4.1)
All three standards stop there – no explanations, no definitions, just a few helpful notes.
Annex A to the rescue
9001:2015 – no further guidance given in Annex A, although there is guidance in the Notes attached:
NOTE 1 Issues can include positive and negative factors or conditions for consideration.
NOTE 3 Understanding the internal context can be facilitated by considering issues related to values, culture, knowledge and performance of the organization.
14001:2015 – quite a bit of info – including lists of internal and external issues which can be relevant, including
c) the internal characteristics or conditions of an organization, such as its activities, products and services, strategic direction, culture and capabilities (i.e. people, knowledge, processes, and systems).
DIS 45001:2016 has even more helpful information –
b) internal context issues, such as:
governance, organizational structure, roles and accountabilities;
- policies, objectives and the strategies that are in place to achieve them;
- the capabilities, understood in terms of resources, knowledge and competence (for example capital, time, human resources, processes, systems and technologies);
- information systems, information flows and decision-making processes (both formal and informal);
- introduction of new products, services, new tools, new software, new premises and equipment;
- relationships with, and perceptions and values of workers;
- the culture in the organization (see A.5.1);
- standards, guidelines and models adopted by the organization;
- the form and extent of contractual relationships, including for example outsourced activities;
- working time arrangements;
- changes in relation to any of the above.
As a result of these lists, you can now determine which of these are relevant, and then determine who we’re talking about when we look at whether these internal forces impact the organization or not. (When we are going through an implementation on site, we spend about 2 hours identifying who fits in to each of these categories, in an effort to ensure that we are considering ALL before we are determining relevance; this helps to demonstrate that the organization has taken everything into account when determining relevance.)