Wooden blocks with the letters

No Revision of ISO 9001. A Statement by Benedikt Sommerhoff

What Do You Think of the Decision to Confirm ISO 9001:2015 Unchanged?

At a time when there are rapid dynamics of innovation and change, including disruptions in society and the economy, I find it anachronistic to leave this important standard unchanged. There was an international survey in which the majority of participants decided against a revision. I would be interested to know the motives. I suspect that, precisely because of the acute dynamics, many have no time and no desire for the additional effort associated with a revision. And frankly, the standard is good enough. Everything in it is reasonable.

What Changes in ISO 9001 Would You Like to See?

I would have liked it to explicitly state that agile product development is permissible and that agile is a permissible concept in the first place. In my view, the 2015 revision is already well suited for agile organizations, does not unduly restrict them, and sets legitimate requirements that even a highly agile organization can fulfill. But many users, especially auditors, are very uncertain about this. It would be bad if, invoking ISO 9001, an organization were less agile than it actually wants and needs to be. Or that it constantly has to have fruitless discussions about this with quality managers or auditors.

Portrait of Mr. Sommerhoff

What Are the Current ISO 9001 Pain Points for Companies?

I’ll be bold and say that I don’t recognize ISO 9001 as a source of pain. It is rather the own Q-strategy or the own quality culture or the unsolved quality problems that cause pain in companies. In my eyes, quality managers have an amazingly hard time recognizing the marginality of ISO 9001. There are a few totally reasonable requirements in it and nothing nonsensical. To survive in highly competitive markets, you have to meet at least these requirements and usually many more. The many established companies that exist in Germany would not need to know ISO 9001 and would be urged by the legislator, their own market and their own customers to fulfill requirements that are also set by ISO 9001.

What Can Companies Do to Implement the Requirements of ISO 9001 Even Better?

What does “better” mean here? Many could do less and thus save many resources and instead invest in value creation and strategic transformation. Many could streamline their QM systems, because they use them to meet requirements long obsolete in long-revised editions of ISO 9001. One example is documentation. Many modern companies have installed software-supported workflows in their most important processes. There, everything is bindingly regulated and the processes and workflows hopefully fulfill all legal and normative requirements. Besides, process employees do not need a single paper or digital document.

Benedikt Sommerhoff

Benedikt Sommerhoff

Benedikt Sommerhoff is the Head of Innovation & Transformation at the DGQ, the German Association for Quality. He has been active in various expert and managerial positions at DGQ for the past 18 years. He is currently working with colleagues and members of the DGQ on future topics which will influence and impact on the economy and society, and particularly the world of quality management. In the QLAB, the DGQ’s design and concept laboratory, new and innovative solutions are produced for DGQ and other organizations under supervision from his team.

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