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Mika Javanainen

Operations

ISO 9001:2015 and the Importance of Information Management

Modernizing information management systems can make the transition to the new standard more efficient

Published: Tuesday, March 14, 2017 - 12:02

The September 2018 certification deadline for ISO 9001:2015 is looming. The updated standard promises to further streamline mission-critical tasks and information flows as well as better align quality management with overall business management. But to earn certification, organizations must first meet a long list of stringent requirements. For example, they must establish quality objectives, integrate those objectives into business processes, and promote the use of risk-based thinking.

All this can be a strenuous and complex endeavor without the right systems in place to manage the process. That’s why for some organizations it could take months if not years to be successful. Fortunately, today there are technologies such as enterprise content management (ECM) solutions that make it faster and easier to achieve ISO 9001:2015 expectations and begin realizing the business benefits.

Step one: Understand the standard

First, it is important to understand exactly what’s new about ISO 9001:2015. The main goals haven’t changed all that much with this new version. ISO 9001 still aims to help organizations improve their overall quality and performance. What has changed are the intrinsic principles and concepts. For example, ISO 9001:2015 features an increased focus on risk mitigation. Organizations will not only need to identify, assess, and prioritize potential risks, but also develop a plan to minimize the impact. All this must be clearly outlined with a company’s quality management system.

Another noteworthy modification is that the new version replaces language about “documents” and “records” with new requirements for “documented information.” On the surface, that might seem like wordsmithing, but this evolution of language mirrors a similar market shift in how companies are managing their business-critical information assets. ISO 9001:2015 clearly calls for more visibility over diverse, distributed quality management-related documents and data. In other words, certification requires organizations to have a unified view of all information, and the ability to integrate related information systems ito effectively manage content and data residing in different systems and repositories. The problem is that many organizations do not have the systems and processes in place to accomplish this.

A new and improved approach

As part of the process for preparing for the transition to ISO 9001:2015, organizations should examine whether existing processes and systems for information management are adequate. Otherwise they may want to consider updating their approach to help meet the standard’s new requirements. This is where modern ECM solutions enter the fray.

Next-generation ECM systems help by providing a simple, centralized framework for organizing, managing, and tracking information content and processes relevant to ISO 9001:2015. ECM solutions that leverage metadata can track each requirement and link all the associated documents across an enterprise. This is critical for audits because it can help provide accurate and clear documentation for how each expectation is being met. It also helps ensure all information is streamlined across an organization—regardless of which system or application the information is stored in. This in turn can help organizations achieve certification in less time, and with less effort.

What’s more, metadata-driven ECM systems can monitor, manage, and analyze quality and performance across many areas of an organization more thoroughly. Companies can automate standard operating procedures and businesses processes, not only so they become more efficient but also to enforce strict practice controls. Deviations that come out of any given process or workflow within a division or unit are automatically flagged, which not only helps with risk management but also enables continuous improvement.

Start the transition process now

Don’t procrastinate. Now is the time for organizations to finalize plans and begin making necessary improvements. An evaluation of existing information management systems is a great starting point to identify potential gaps that, if addressed, can help ease the transition process.

The lessons learned from previous updates to ISO 9001 make it clear that information management systems must remain tightly intertwined with efforts to meet the standard, and the new focus on “document information” included in the latest edition will make it more important than ever to align an organization’s information management strategies and systems in order to complete the transition.

In addition, the increased emphasis on risk included in ISO 9001:2015 means that modern information management solutions will be required to help keep up with the demand for tracking enterprise risks, objectives, stakeholders, process outcomes, and other core quality processes.

By modernizing information management approaches and systems, organizations can transition to the updated standard efficiently and painlessly. And although meeting the revised standard will entail a lot of planning and effort for organizations, the upside of embracing ISO 9001:2015 will include streamlined processes and better outcomes for years to come.

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About The Author

Mika Javanainen’s picture

Mika Javanainen

Mika Javanainen is vice president of product management at M-Files Corp. Javanainen is in charge of managing and developing M-Files product portfolios, roadmaps, and pricing globally. Prior to his executive roles, Javanainen worked as a systems specialist, integrating document management systems with ERP and CRM applications. A published author, Javanainen has an executive MBA in international business and marketing. Follow him on Twitter @mikajava.