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Don’t wait until the 2018 deadline to transition to ISO 9001:2015


June 29, 2016
By Omar Perez BSI Canada

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Jun. 29, 2016 – Three years can sound like a lot of time to transition from an existing ISO certification to the updated one. “In three years, of course it will be completed” — that’s a mentality that is not uncommon for many companies and organizations at this time. But when you start working backwards, 2018 is not that far away.

The revision to ISO 9001, a globally-recognized quality management system standard – unveiled in the fall of 2015 – creates a less prescriptive standard, with a goal of making it easier to achieve business objectives and generate positive impact with businesses. The changes reflect the increasingly complex environments in which organizations operate and ensures that quality management is completely integrated and aligned with business strategies for improved performance.

Nonetheless, there has not been a mad dash to the certification finish line, let alone the starting point. Some companies have already achieved certification, having known they wanted to be early adopters, and to help others make the transition. They began their own internal preparation well before the revised standard was official announced.

Others have decided to wait, but the biggest mistake would be to wait until 2018.

Working backwards, there are milestones to factor in. There can be months of planning and training, months to conduct a gap assessment followed by months of implementation. Then there is the auditing process, which if not successful, means more time (and resources) re-evaluating before attempting implementation again.

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Ultimately, this all comes down to being prepared. Many organizations, while certified with the existing standard, still approach my team with basic questions such as:

1. How do I get my organization leaders involved?

2. Before I get too far in the transition process, what points should I cover through training in order to avoid costs and have an effective implementation of the changes?

3. How is the new standard going to affect the way my management system is audited?

That’s why certification bodies are encouraging companies and organizations to get as prepared as possible, as soon as possible. This will help ensure the smoothest and most efficient transition. It will also likely help companies avoid the bottleneck effect that will take place in late 2017 if individuals vie for spots in training courses and organizations try to schedule auditors who may be booked.

The mentality to start as soon as possible is dependent on management. Whether it’s an organization of 50 or 5,000, the thinking should not vary too much. Since one of the biggest changes of the revised standard is greater involvement from management and leadership, the direction to plan and execute should come from the top down.

One way to prepare and manage this process is through the utilization of tools such as Action Manager, for example. It lets you record, track, manage actions and maintain accurate records of findings, including non-conformities, anywhere in the organization.

Key benefits of starting the process earlier include avoiding pressure to transition closer to the deadline, as well as avoiding the bottleneck effect. However, there are other benefits of transitioning early that can strengthen business and organizational goals. They include:

• Improved business performance
• Improved risk and opportunity management
• Enhanced reputation
• Reduced risk of transition issues
• Reduction of costs
• More flexible approach
• Increase engagement
• Improved integration

Like many business successes, the story behind the accomplishment is not always glamorous or dramatic, but usually one about being prepared and taking the appropriate and methodical steps to achieve the goals set in place. It would be much worse to hear stories about frenzied meetings to determine processes or late-night sessions to prepare for an audit, or worse, missing the deadline and not getting certified with the most recognized quality management system. It’s our hope to avoid those stories.

Omar Perez is the training director for BSI Group Canada.