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Denise Robitaille


What’s Happening With ISO 9001?

Stakeholders have offered suggestions for the upcoming revision

Published: Thursday, May 2, 2013 - 15:43

Editor’s note: Denise Robitaille is a member of the U.S. TAG to ISO/TC 176, the committee responsible for updating the ISO 9000 family of standards. She will be reporting on the revision progress to ISO 9001, which will be completed in 2015. Read other articles in the series here.

By now most people are aware that ISO 9001 is in the process of being revised, with a planned release date of some time in 2015. Reactions from users range from mild curiosity to excitement to extreme trepidation.

ISO 9001 hasn’t had a significant makeover since 2000, and a lot has changed in our world since then. Supply chains now routinely span the globe. Vast quantities of information can be transmitted virtually instantaneously. Environmental concerns are now incorporated into most organizations’ strategic plans. The evolution of ideas and technology has exploded—and our ability to manage it all has become increasingly critical. It is in this tumultuous environment that the most popular standard ever published by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is being revised.

More than three years ago, anticipating the eventuality of a revision, members of ISO Subcommittee 2 (SC 2)—the subcommittee that has responsibility for the revision and maintenance of ISO 9001—began conducting an extensive user survey. It was important to solicit the kind of information the market could provide to ensure that this document remained relevant and beneficial to the users.

Feedback was sought from every industry and sector, from users of other management system standards, and even from those who have chosen not to implement an ISO 9001-compliant quality management system (QMS). More than 10,000 responses were received from around the world. Many contained comments that needed to be translated. All these data were collated, reviewed, and analyzed.

Overall, the consensus from respondents was that they felt the standard is good as it is, but it needs to be revised. There seemed to be little support for wholesale changes, or creating a hierarchical or tiered set of requirements standards similar to Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI)—a framework for improving the processes organizations use to develop, deliver, and maintain products and services, initially utilized in the software industry but gaining acceptance in other fields—or the old ISO 9001/ISO 9002/ISO 9003 scheme. There is also little support for withdrawing ISO 9001.

ISO 9001 user survey’s most common comments

The most commonly received comments from the extensive survey that SC 2 sent to ISO users related to the following:
• Requests to include requirements relating to risk management, financial management, and change management
• Requests for clarification of existing requirements relating to outsourcing, product realization, and the distinction between verification and validation
• Some respondents voiced concern about the ease of use for service and software industry

Concepts and ideas for a future ISO 9001 revision

While the user survey was being conducted, a task group was established to explore “concepts and ideas for a future revision of ISO 9001.” Over the course of several meetings, the technical experts explored the significant global changes and evolving concepts vis-à-vis the standard to decide which ones might be relevant to any future revisions. Some of the concepts that were discussed included:
• Risk management approach
• Financial resources of the organization
• Time, speed, agility
• Process management
• Knowledge management
• Maintenance of infrastructure
• Competence
• Product and service life-cycle management
• Supply chain management (and outsourcing)
• Expanding the concept of customer

This list represents only a small subset of the original plethora of ideas that were advanced.

It should be noted  that inclusion on this list, in the survey results, or in any other document does not guarantee that the concept will find its way into the newly revised standard. Although it’s likely some of the ideas will be incorporated, many others will continue to be perceived as outside of the scope of ISO 9001. It’s important to remember that ISO 9001 is a generic requirements document and that the requirements must be applicable to the broad and diverse spectrum of users. It is not a “how to” guide nor is it an encyclopedia of tools.

Based on the work of the task group, several white papers were generated elaborating the justification for possible inclusion of some of the concepts.

In accordance with ISO directives, the members of ISO Technical Committee (TC) 176 initiated a systematic review of ISO 9001 in October 2011. The ballot choices for a systematic review are: withdraw, revise/amend, or confirm. The output of the global survey and of the task group meetings provided essential feedback to the participating members as they cast their votes. When the ballot closed in March 2012, the results were announced. The members of TC 176 had voted to revise/amend.

Having made the decision to revise ISO 9001, SC 2 began laying the foundation for the work ahead. This kind of revision project generally takes several years. A working group (WG 24) was established, requests went out to nominate experts to participate, and the new work item proposal was developed.

In subsequent meetings the task group moved forward with a project plan, design specification, and working draft. Inputs into the design review process included the results of customer surveys, white papers generated from the task group on the future of ISO 9001, and ideas tabled during the previous revision that had been deemed inappropriate for a minor revision.

There are two other factors that are having an influence on the revision. The first is the impending revision to the Quality Management Principles. This fundamental document lays the foundation for any quality management system and can be found in the linked document above as well as in ISO 9000:2005 and  ISO 9004:2009. The principles relate to, among other things, leadership, the customer, involvement of people, and the process approach. The principles have remained unchanged for more than two decades. Although this revision will not be dramatic, it is important. It may result in a slight shift in focus for organizations implementing quality management systems.

The second factor is the development of a high-level structure by the Joint Technical Coordination Group for all ISO management system standards. The structure has been published in the ISO directives and is known as Annex SL. Although the intent is to bring greater homogeneity to the systems of organizations charged with adoption of multiple management system standards, it remains to be determined what effect it will have on the revision of ISO 9001.

In the coming months, the output of the most recent meeting of the WG 24 will be released. The committee draft (CD) is expected to be for sale some time in June. At that time, comments will be solicited to ensure that this revision perpetuates the high standard that has been the hallmark of ISO 9001 for more than a quarter of a century.

Current TC 176 projects

For those of you not familiar with TC 176, it is the technical committee within ISO whose scope is the “standardization in the field of quality management (generic quality management systems and supporting technologies), as well as quality management standardization in specific sectors at the request of the affected sector and the ISO Technical Management Board.”

Along with ISO 9001, TC 176 is responsible for a variety of other standards. Here is a list of the work currently going on within TC 176.

TC 176 standards being revised:
• ISO 9000—“Quality management systems—Fundamentals and vocabulary”
• ISO 9001—“Quality management systems—Requirements”

TC 176 new standards being developed (all at various stages in development process)
ISO 17582—“Quality management systems—Particular requirements for the application of ISO 9001:2008 for electoral organizations at all levels of government”
ISO 18091—“Quality management systems—Guidelines for the application of ISO 9001:2008 in local government”
ISO 18420—“Quality management systems—Requirements for the application of ISO 9001:2008 educational organizations”
ISO 10008—“Quality management—Customer satisfaction—Guidelines for business-to-consumer electronic commerce transactions”


About The Author

Denise Robitaille’s picture

Denise Robitaille

Authored of more than a dozen books on a variety of quality topicsDenise Robitaille has participated internationally in standards development for more than 20 years, serving in several leadership roles, including her current position as chair of TC176/SC1. That committee is responsible for the development of ISO 9000, the guiding document on quality fundamentals and terminology that is the foundation for ISO 9001.

Robitaille also chairs PC302, the committee responsible for revising the ISO 19011 standard on auditing quality management systems. She has facilitated the implementation of ISO 9001 for multiple organizations for more than 25 years, is a Fellow of the American Society for Quality, and a certified lead assessor.


ISO 9001

Excellent job done by Denise E. Robitaille! ISO 9000 is the foundation of quality management standard but with changing environment and current scenario, there are lots of changes to be needed. So preparing for ISO 9001:2015 could fulfill quality management standard for next 25 years.


CMMI Consultant | ISO Certification Services

Thanks for spreading this interesting & informative post.

We are CMMI Consultants located in New Delhi, India and serve clients all our the world including countries USA, India, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Tunisia etc.

ISO 9001

Great news. One single remark: Should not be always mentioned the last revision? Like ISO9001:2008?



Terrific Summary

Hello Denise:

Thank you for the very well written and concise summary of the current activity surrounding ISO 9001. 

Sincerely, Dirk van Putten