I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some really top-notch companies lately, who are all working to implement ISO x001:2015 (either ISO 9001:2015 or ISO 14001:2015, or both). As we work through the changes to the system, we work on some exercise worksheets I’ve developed to help organizations meet the new requirement of the standard:
- Context of the Organization
- Interested Parties
- Scope of the Mgt system and its processes
and I’ve noticed that when we slow down, and take the time to REALLY dig into these items, that the rest of the implementation goes more smoothly. Let’s break it down a bit and figure out why we should spend our time in these three key areas.
It’s not easy, slam-dunk work, but it’s always rewarding to see the light in their eyes when they realize that they can lay out a process including all of the areas that affect the process, and then audit to it…
1. Fully Define Context of the Organization
Context of the organization refers to the internal and external issues that are facing an organization. For example, it is very helpful to know if the org is a commodity supplier, or a niche supplier for products/services as defined in ISO 9001:2015. Is the organization holding a lion’s share of the market (think GoPro cameras) or are they more of a “me too” organization (GoPro’s competitors – can you even name who they might be? Yeah, me neither.)
If we know how the organization is affected by internal and external issues, we can better frame how to implement a Management System that works. When we dig into this during implementation engagements, we spend quite a bit of time here, working through all the possible internal and external issues – and often uncovering something that the organization had not previously considered in this light. It’s often quite ‘illuminating’!
2. Identify All Relevant Interested Parties for ISO 9001:2015 and/or ISO 14001:2015
Interested parties are referenced in the standards – but they have different areas of focus depending if we are talking about an ISO 9001:2015 Quality – QMS – or an ISO 14001:2015 Environmental – EMS – Management System (MS). For a QMS, the relevance is more on customers, suppliers, employees, stakeholders; while for an EMS, we might also be considering regulatory bodies, the local neighbors, opposing actions groups, and other groups as needed.
Why do we care about framing this correctly and completely? If we don’t frame it completely, or correctly, we run the risk of overlooking someone who can have a large impact on our success. Spending a little more time here can ensure that you are not blindsided by a group of stakeholders that can affect your business.
3. Clearly Define Management System Scope and Processes
It’s only after we have thoroughly identified and understood our context and interested parties that we are able to then go back and flesh out the MS Scope and Processes that support this. The Scope is the boundaries and applicability of the MS, and needs to take #1 and #2 above into account when setting it.
The processes are means to generate the products or services that we are selling – as I tell my folks, “it’s the reason people pay you money” (so for me, that’s providing training/consulting/auditing services – and there are LOTS of other processes that go into supporting this customer-facing process, and all of them also need to be defined).
Unless we are clear about the products and services we are selling – and this is part of the Scope of the MS – we can’t adequately define the processes that will work for it. Identify ALL key processes, both customer-facing and those that manage or support those customer-facing processes, is key to ensuring that the system is adequately defined, will work well, and is being managed appropriately. Otherwise, as Alice in Wonderland says, ‘if you don’t know where you are going, any road can get you there.”…
Once you’ve spent the time and made the effort to lay out a really strong foundation (Clause 4 of the standard), you’re ready to move onward with implementation, and your chance of successful implementation on the first try has just gone WAY up.
Want to find out more about how you can maximize your chances of success? Continue reading this blog (search on key words like “Context of the Organization” or “Interested parties” to see other posts); take a course with us (and get access to the cool worksheets for Clause 4!); and/or contact us directly to talk about your unique needs!