Why the biggest winner is the customer

The newly published ISO 9001:2015 contains welcome changes. Most early adopters are providing staff with training, in readiness for full implementation by 2018. One very positive change is how the regulations are embracing technology.

Progress has marched on since the last significant changes to ISO 9001. Although some required data is stored in lever arch files, a significant proportion is not. Nowadays, data is digitally stored onsite and backed up in the cloud. Management software packages, platforms and specialized portals have vastly altered the way organisations perform.

One of the enhanced requirements involves documentation. As with other system standards, ISO 9001:2015 uses the term ‘documented information’.

“Documented information - information required to be controlled and maintained by an organisation and the medium on which it is contained.” (Source – ISO 9001:2015)

This change underlines that the way procedures are recorded and documented have been revolutionised by advances in technology. The ‘medium on which it is contained’ encourages new ways to record company information.

Keeping it simple

Most processes involve basic common sense and require little if any recorded instruction - allowing for that is a welcome change. Directives may be better delivered and understood, in a non-traditional format.

Ensuring the right person has the right and relevant information has never been easier. Infographics and posters may be far more helpful to those who have learning difficulties, encouraging inclusion. A bullet point list is more effective than text heavy description. White papers and pdf downloads could be far more useful and apply to multiple standards’ requirements.

For more complex and technical processes, each industry will have its own standards and regulations. Necessary, hard-copy documentation will still have to be accurate and monitored. However, the new regulations, do at least allow for flexibility.

Utilising supplier management software, makes documenting a procedure very efficient. If conformity is required, programs such as Rallivo (automated supplier evaluation software) make validating certification transparent and simple. Wasting time chasing suppliers is becoming a thing of the past, due to advancements in IT; and confidentiality is protected with military-grade data security.

Photography and audio files can be quickly accessed across multiple devices. When creating instructions or directions, one picture can, as they say, be worth a thousand words. A company video can train and inform. All this builds a standard that is both understandable and achievable on every level, updated information is incorporated and auditing becomes far more efficient.

Looking ahead

The changes allow for real unity within an organisation, communication has no limits, data sharing is instant. The new ISO 9001:2015 allows for delegation instead of singular designation. By encouraging senior managers to record their particular processes, top management will benefit from fully considered data input. Ultimately, the changes will benefit all from workshop to boardroom.

“Smart companies invest in the young. Technology is second nature for the upcoming generation and utilising it to make quality standards accessible and understandable, can only be a huge leap forward. As we begin to embrace apprenticeship again, technology builds bridges between traditional and new ideas.”

And of course - the biggest winner will be the customer.