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How to transition to ISO 9001:2015 in 4 easy steps?

Transition to ISO 9001:2015 expires September 2018

ISO 9001 was reviewed and the new version was published in September 2015. ISO 9001:2015 has quite a few changes in terms of the content, structure and terminology. Therefore a lot of organisations who are already certified will be facing the challenge of making the change to the new version in the near future. But where do you start? What is the best way for your organisation to approach the transition?

Undertake a gap analysis

The best way to get started is to conduct a gap analysis of your current quality management system.  What do you have now and what will you need to comply with the new standard? This is probably the most challenging part of the whole process because you will have to familiarise yourself with the new requirements of ISO 9001, being:

- Changes in terminology (e.g. documented information, products and services)

- Different structure

- Changes of emphasis (e.g. risk based thinking, management commitment)

Develop an implementation plan and stick to it

Once you have identified your management system ISO 9001:2015 compliance gaps you can start working on a timeline. How much is there to do and how much time and resources can you allocate to close the gaps? Allow time to adjust the management system as well as adequate time for informing employees of changes to the management system. You should also allow some time for more frequent internal audits in the transition period to help you identify non-conforming areas.

Once you have established a program stick to it! We know how hard it can be to make the time while keeping the day to day operations running but it will help you avoid the panic at the end of the transition period (September 2018.)

Adjust the current management system to meet the new requirements

Now it’s time to make the changes to your current management system. Work your way through the sections of your system while keeping in mind the changes that need to be made. While the terminology and the structure of your management system can remain the same, the emphasis on certain topics certainly has to be incorporated.

Let’s elaborate a little more on these areas.

The terminology was changed to simplify the standard and minimise confusion. There are definitely benefits in using the new terminology, however the old terminology will not prevent you from ISO 9001:2015 certification.

The same goes for the revised structure of the standard. There are huge benefits in using the new structure of the standard and applying it to your management system. The main benefit (and the reason why the structure was changed) being the alignment of ISO 9001 with other standards like ISO 14001 and ISO 45001. But again not having the same structure in your management system will not prevent you from certification to ISO 9001:2015.

The main changes centre around the emphasis on management commitment, risk based thinking and the needs and expectations of interested parties. Reveiw each topic and identify where and how you can improve in these areas in your management system.

Arrange a transition agreement with your certification body

Contact your certification body to find out about the transitioning process. Each certification body will have its own procedure and associated costs. The best time to transition from ISO 9001:2008 to ISO 9001:2015 is the time of the re-certification audit. The re-certification audit usually occurs every three years after your initial certification. If you are unclear about when your re-certification audit is due contact your certification body.

This could also be a good time re-evaluate your options and shop around. See what other certification bodies are out there and what they have to offer.

What helped you make the transition to ISO 9001:2015? Please share your comments below.