Which Way Did They Go?

Organizational Roles, Responsibilities and Authorities

We’re almost done with Clause 5 Leadership and as a final reiteration of the importance top management plays in this new revision we’ll hit them one last time, reminding them of their roles and responsibilities and what they can ‘get away with’ delegating.

Unlike the 2008 revision, ISO 9001:2015 requires that the top management be accountable for the effectiveness of the QMS. ISO9001:2008 required top management establish, implement and maintain a quality management system. ISO9001:2015 further requires, top management ensures the processes interact with each other.

This is a direct result of the additional emphases on the process approach. As such, the organization will have to prove that inputs and outputs of processes are defined, products services are produced in sequence and delivered to the next appropriate process according to process flow and that the process is effective.

ISO 9001:2008 required top management assign a (management) representative, who, among other things, is responsible for the quality management system. ISO9001:2015 no longer requires a management representative, however, the specific duties remain, so, as part of top management’s responsibility, they must appoint an authority(ies) that will have the task of bringing the quality policy and expectations of top management to the organization and to receive feedback regarding the status and performance of the QMS which will be reported back to top management.

The requirement to demonstrate leadership and commitment in clause 5.1.1 can be partially achieved by assuming roles of responsibility and authority in clause 5.3.

The Standard states in 5.3 Organizational roles, responsibilities and authorities:

Top management shall ensure that the responsibilities and authorities for relevant roles are assigned, communicated and understood within the organization.

Top management shall assign the responsibility and authority for:

  1. ensuring that the quality management system conforms to the requirements of this International Standard;
  2. ensuring that the processes are delivering their intended outputs;
  3. reporting on the performance of the quality management system and on opportunities for improvement, in particular to top management;
  4. ensuring the promotion of customer focus throughout the organization;
  5. ensuring that the integrity of the quality management system is maintained when changes to the quality management system are planned and implemented.

For those who maintain the traditional approach of continuing with a single management representative, clause 5.3 is the smallest of changes because the standard clearly allows the organization to assign these responsibilities and authorities any way it sees fit.

With the 2015 revision, however, delegation opportunities in clause 5.3 make it possible for several members of top management to maintain key organizational roles within the QMS. Imagine the positive impact on QMS effectiveness if you delegated oversight to more than one member of the management team?


  • This clause replaces old clause 5.5.1 on responsibility and authority.
  • Adds that responsibilities must be assigned and understood.
  • Identifies some specific responsibilities to be assigned.
  • Lack of management representative for assignments.
  • Old duties can be spread among top management.
  • Introduces use of term “innovation” to the standard.

Innovation is defined in ISO9000:2015 (3.6.15) as the process resulting in a new or substantially changed object (and that activities resulting in innovation are generally managed.) And, yes folks, ISO is working a standard for that too (ISO/AWI 50501 Draft.)

What will the auditors look for?

  • Auditors know that there is no longer a requirement for Management Representative (MR), although the duties currently assigned to the MR under ISO 9001:2008 must still be fulfilled and can be assigned to different personnel.
  • Auditors will seek evidence that organizations personnel have not only been advised of their QMS responsibilities &authorities, but also that they understand these in the context of the overall purpose of the quality management system.
  • Auditors will also seek evidence that top management has assigned responsibility and authority for preserving the integrity of the organization’s QMS during revisions or updates
  • Auditors will be looking for documented information (other than an organizational chart which only shows chain of command) defining and delineating roles, responsibilities and authorities.

We’ll be moving on to Clause 6 in our next post.

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