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10 things you need to know about the ISO 2015 revisions – STEP 7

10 things you need to know about the ISO 2015 revisions – STEP 7

In my previous blogs I covered:

Step 1: ISO Publication and Beyond
Step 2:
The High Level Structure
Step 3:
Clauses 1, 2 and 3 – Scope, Normative References and Terms and Definitions
Step 4: Context of the Organization
Step 5: Leadership
Step 6:

A quick reminder of the 10 Clauses of the High Level Structure- this blog covers Clause 7:

1 Scope
2 Normative References
3 Terms and references
4 Context of the organization
5 Leadership
6 Planning
7 Support
8 Operation
9 Performance evaluation
10 Improvement

This clause of ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 gathers together in one place all the areas relating to the ‘people, place and procedural’ aspects of the management systems. The basic High Level Structure sub-clauses cover the following:

7.1 Resources
7.2 Competence
7.3 Awareness
7.4 Communication
7.5 Documented Information

Looking at the content within Clause 7 which is common to ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 14001:2015:

  • There are familiar requirements relating to the provision of resources for the management system and the effective delivery of the scope of services (7.1)
  • There are also familiar requirements relating to ensuring that those resources are competent, including evaluation of training needs, actions and demonstration of competence (7.2)
  • The sub-clause on awareness is also broadly similar to the existing 9001 and 14001 content, although a bit more explicit on awareness requirements and now more consistent between 9001 and 14001 (7.3).
  • With communications, there has also been some more harmonization from the High Level Structure in making clear the importance of both internal and external communications (i.e. the current ISO 9001:2008 doesn’t really include external communications very well) (7.4).
  • For Documented Information, most of the text is familiar and is similar in requirements to the existing 9001 and 14001, but there is logically some wider wording on the electronic and web-based environments we now inhabit (7.5). It is worth emphasizing here that the revised ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 no longer specify the need for documented procedures- it is up to the organization to decide what is needed. BUT the standards specify on a number of occasions the need to maintain or retain documented information, in order to give structure, clarity and evidence of the system being maintained and effective. The term Documented Information now replaces the previously used terms Documented Procedure and Records.

With ISO 14001, the text mainly follows the mandatory HLS text, except with some additional content in Clause 7.4, where the requirements around the importance of internal communications and external communications are emphasized. This is a natural legacy of the existing ISO 14001 and the importance of interested parties in environment issues. This area of Clause 7 also makes very clear the importance of ensuring in relation to environmental reporting and associated communications that the organization shall “ensure that environmental information communicated is consistent with information generated within the environmental management system, and is reliable”- an excellent addition and consistent with other corporate reporting standards. It also emphasizes the need to plan and implement a process for communications along the familiar ‘who, what, when how’ principles.

With ISO 9001, there is more additional text and a number of sub-sub-clauses, BUT these are mainly driven by the need to ensure that content from the existing ISO 9001:2008 is carried over effectively. The key points here are:

  • The sub-clause 7.1 also includes additional content on resources, environment and monitoring and measuring resources. These are requirements from ISO 9001:2008, albeit ‘revamped’ a bit to reflect the fact that these assets can now be broader and can cover not just equipment and hardware.
  • There is also a very interesting additional requirement under sub-clause 7.1 termed “Organizational Knowledge”, which relates to ensuring that the organization understands its internal and external knowledge needs, and can demonstrate how this is managed. This could also include knowledge management of resources, and ensuring that there is effective succession planning for personnel, and processes for capturing individual and group knowledge.

So what impact do the revisions have on the current approach to ISO 9001 and ISO 14001? In most areas this clause does not require any significant changes, but there are some of the additional requirements drafted for each standard which will require some new thinking, particularly around Organizational Knowledge. The changes introduced with the HLS in terms of not specifically requiring Documented Procedures is in reality not a significant issue- organizations still need to look at where Documented Information (e.g. processes, procedures, data, records) is critical for the management systems and its effective operation.

In Step 8 I will look at another important practical area of the standards- Clause 8: Operation.


Contact us for support: Transition to the ISO 2015 revisions.

Do you have questions related to  the ISO 9001:2015 & ISO 14001:2015 revisions? Post them in our LinkedIn group , and our auditors Doug Milne and Niall Pembery will get back to you.


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