ISO 9001, a cult standard


ISO 9001 uses common sense, pragmatism and simplicity. Its main objective is to help organizations adopt a well-founded long-term approach following the principle of continual improvement.  As such, over time, this standard has become a management tool to promote competitiveness. In Japan and Germany, countries often cited as benchmarks, enterprises have clearly understood its benefits since they represent 10% of the certified organizations in the world!


Why has ISO 9001 been revised?


Standards are developed by user organizations themselves and are revised regularly – usually every 5 years – to ensure that they still meet the objectives. An initial international consultation on this standard – to which French companies made a significant contribution – concluded in March 2012 that ISO 9001 needed to change.


Over the years, organizations have changed their management practices in an increasingly complex economic and competitive environment necessitating continual efforts to adapt in terms of competencies, agility, innovation, cost control, risk prevention, and so on. The revision of the most widely used standard in the world therefore reflects these challenges with the dual objective of continuing to help organizations better anticipate the needs of their market and helping them improve performance.


Among the management practices covered, the 2015 version of ISO 9001 encourages organizations in particular to address risks and opportunities more effectively, adapt their quality approach to better serve the organization’s strategy and control the entire supply chain in order to create value for customers. The new structure of the standard, termed “universal”, has also been designed to simplify and streamline integration with other complementary management systems such as ISO 14001.


The new version of the standard will therefore operate to improve benefits for organizations on two levels: effective management of their internal activities, targeting operational excellence, and improvement in the level of confidence they inspire in interested parties, in particular their customers and suppliers.


Key phases of the revision


The revision process unfolded over a number of years. It followed the usual phases in the development of an international standard. Initial deadlines were however flexible depending on outcomes of discussion between member countries involved in the work of ISO/TC 176/SC2.


  • January 2013: preliminary draft of ISO 9001:2015 (WD: Working Draft)
  • June 2013: first phase of voting on ISO 9001:2015 (CD: Committee Draft). Counting of votes in November 2013.
  • 1st half 2014: second phase of voting on the text of ISO 9001:2015 (DIS: Draft For International Standard). Counting of votes in September 2014.
  • July 2015: third phase of voting on the text of ISO 9001:2015 (FDIS: Final Draft for International Standard). Counting of votes in September 2015.
  • September 2015: publication of standard ISO 9001:2015.


When to switch over to ISO 9001 version 2015?


Organizations have a 3-year period in which to migrate to ISO 9001:2015 certification. ISO 9001:2008 certificates will be valid up until the end of the transition period.