Tips on transitioning to ISO 9001

Vector art of business presentation with Tips on transition to ISO 9001With the September 2018 deadline for the transition to ISO 9001:2015 approaching, companies are coming into the home stretch and are quickly running out of time to update their quality management systems.

The upcoming deadline also represents an end date for the validity of ISO 9001:2008 certification, which could leave some companies scrambling for answers to their quality management systems at the last minute; however, transitioning away from ISO 9001:2008 can be made easy by having the necessary background knowledge and using the tips listed below.

According to the International Organization for Standardization, the ISO 9001:2015 update offers several new benefits to users. Most notably, the new quality management system update now follows the High-Level Structure. This update should allow for easier use of multiple management systems since other platforms use this structure as well. Additionally, risk-based thinking also has a more prominent role with the update, at least more than previous versions. Ultimately, the ISO 9001:2015 update is expected to increase efficiency for users and overall customer satisfaction, enough of a reason alone for most companies to move forward with the quality management system update.

Before beginning the transition to ISO 9001:2015, the International Organization for Standardization recommends users begin the update process by first becoming familiar with the new ISO 9001:2015 document, which can be found on the organization’s website, www.iso.org. Familiarity with the update document can also clarify any questions or issues ahead of time to prevent less work on the back end during the transition.

Next, users will need to identify any gaps that need to be addressed to meet the new requirements. which will include aligning with the company on industry standards and making changes as necessary. (Standards within the industry can be found by visiting the International Organization for Standardization’s website and reviewing the “ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management Systems” requirements file.) These requirements also could be discussed with the company’s accredited certification body if available.

Users must then develop an implementation plan based on the specific needs of the company and assign responsibilities as necessary. This should be done analyzing the previously mentioned gaps and updating the individual company’s quality management system as needed. After, the company should perform an audit to analyze the new plan. In case any additional changes are needed after the audit, it’s recommended that the company leave extra time to make additional updates as needed. Companies should also create an in-house quality manual for reference.

A transition of this magnitude and importance can be intimidating, but users shouldn’t fret. The benefits that the transition to ISO 9001:2015 will offer companies will ultimately outweigh any laborious effort completed up front. With a well-structured plan of attack, the proper background information, and effective communication, making the switch to ISO 9001:2015 can become a seamless and stress-free transition for all users.

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