ISO 9001:2015 – Dealing with Deadlines – Part 3

We have seen that ISO 9001 has changed significantly with this 2015 revision. With the addition of context, interested-party expectations, and risk-based thinking, one would think ISO 9001:2015 has changed the most, but actually, ISO 14001 has changed in the most dramatic fashion, requiring companies to rethink their EMS. I add EMS back in at this point for those of you who have or are considering an Environmental System or are thinking about “Planting Seeds” as I have recommended.



One of the key changes in ISO 14001 is the concept of “strategic environmental management,” where the organization is asked to give more importance to environmental management in the strategic planning process. This idea is further expanded by calling for increased participation of the organization in the EMS.

This, along with life cycle thinking, protection of the environment, and environmental performance, have fundamentally changed the Standard. Organizations should give themselves a chance to rethink their management system.

Culture can be described as: ‘The way things are done around here.’ However, this culture will have to be reviewed and revised, if necessary, as a consequence of the adoption of Annex SL as the basis for ISO 14001:2015. This includes the behaviors of everyone connected with the environmental system, and in particular, of those operating at the most senior level within an organization.

The 2015 edition has been revised to meet the needs of today’s business world. Every organization is different, so the steps needed to adjust your management system are likely to be unique to your situation. However, here are some tips that will help you get started on the journey.

Tip 1 – Familiarize yourself with the new document(s). While some things have indeed changed, many remain the same. A correlation matrix is available from ISO/TC 176/SC 2, which will help you identify if parts of the standard have been moved to other sections.

Tip 2 – Identify any organizational gaps which need to be addressed to meet the new requirements.

Tip 3 – Develop an implementation plan. Tip 4 – Provide appropriate training and awareness for all parties that have an impact on the effectiveness of the organization.

Tip 5 – Update your existing quality management system to meet the revised requirements.

Tip 6 – If you are certified to an ISO Standard, talk to your certification body about transitioning to the new version.

The next steps

It’s important to create an implementation leader and a steering committee for this important transition. When creating the leader and team, management should stress that both management systems are for the organization’s benefit overall, and not for a specific department. The steering and leadership teams, championed by top management, ensure the completion of the processes shown below.

Discuss and plan the approach to management system changes. The strategy must be determined before a gap analysis can be conducted. Key strategies include:

  • Implementing a strategy for addressing risk
  • Considering proactive preventive processes for risk during the product-realization processes
  • Determining how top management can be pulled into the planning and implementation ofthe QMS and EMS
  • Integrating QMS and EMS processes into the same process approach (as required by clause 5.1.1 in the HLS)
  • Integrating social responsibility, including “protecting the environment” to the EMS system

Following this strategic planning process, the next steps are:

  • Conduct a gap analysis to analyze where the organization is in relationship to the overall plan and strategy, including ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 14001:2015 management systems.
  • Create an implementation plan with a steering committee and process owners.
  • Develop the key strategies and initiatives.
  • Document the (new) processes and procedures.
  • Implement the new system.
  • Conduct internal audits.
  • Conduct a management review.
  • Conduct third-party audits.

To efficiently implement the changes required by ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 14001:2015, and to do so with a value-added focus, organizations must begin the process now. As the surveillance audit and final deadlines draw near, organizations should avoid waiting until the last minute to begin this process. Otherwise they will find themselves forced to focus only on conformance to the standards (at a minimum), rather than building true value into their management systems.

As usual, sincere hopes that you find our posts informative. TKG

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