Your opinion: should ISO 9001 be updated?

ISO is launching a survey into the prospect of updating the ISO 9001 standard on quality management systems, the last version of which dates back to 2015.

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Do you work in quality? You appreciate the virtues that ISO 9001 brings to your company on a daily basis. But the last version of the standard was released five years ago, and the prospect of a new update is emerging. Do you think that it needs revising?

With many companies struggling to stay afloat amidst the turmoil of the current health crisis, it is vitally important to deliver high-quality products and services while keeping costs under firm control. Having access to a benchmark document that describes the best practices for managing a quality policy is invaluable. That document is none other than voluntary standard ISO 9001. Small businesses and large organizations around the world claim that they follow its guidelines to the letter and consequently apply for certification: according to the ISO Survey, there were close to 900,000 active ISO 9001 certificates around the world in 2019, covering over 1.2 million sites.

ISO 9001: four revisions since 1987

For 33 years, the business community has had the opportunity (but not the obligation!) of using the standard to speak the same language, apply the same methods and implement best practices. If you are a quality manager, you know that this international standard defines the principle of continual improvement. But the document itself is also under continual improvement, because it is revised at regular intervals to reflect changes in the marketplace and management methods, i.e. in 1994, 2000, 2008 and lastly 2015. During the last revision some five years ago, some requirements were changed with the aim of allowing users to:

  • Give greater consideration to risks and opportunities
  • Use the quality management approach to drive the company’s strategy
  • Improve the conformity of products and services (suppliers, subcontractors, etc.);
  • Simplify documentary requirements

The risk-based approach is just one of the successes in the 2015 version of ISO 9001. But since then, the digital revolution has been sweeping around the world, climate change has been making its presence increasingly felt, and the Covid-19 pandemic has been raising question marks about the merits of our globalized economic system. We are seeing new trends and developments in management practices, customer approaches and organizational systems, which begs the question as to whether the standard should be updated,” explains Cédric Meunier, Chief Quality Officer at Renault and Chairman of the standardization commission on these particular topics at AFNOR.

ISO 9001: define France’s position within ISO

So is the 2015 version of ISO 9001 still relevant in 2020? Does it represent “best practices”, to use standards language? Or is it too early? After all, it was only two years ago (almost to the day) that certification based on the earlier versions expired (15 September 2018). You use ISO 9001 every day, so do you believe that a new process should be started to update the standard? If so, which direction should it take?

Answer the survey that the International Organization for Standardization has launched on this very subject, until the end of 2020. Your answers will help define the standpoint that AFNOR will take on behalf of France and contribute to the international debate that will be held within ISO Technical Committee 176. The work on writing tomorrow’s standards starts today… and certainly not without your involvement!