ISO 9001:2015 Clause 9 – Don’t let measurements undermine performance

A quick look confirms that there are no potholes in this part of the Transition Highway to 9001:2015. Generally speaking, the Monitoring, Measurement and Analysis requirements are VERY similar to the 2008 version.

However, poorly designed measurements can actually cause suboptimal performance. In the work done by John Seddon of Vanguard Consulting in the UK ( , we see that taking certain types of measurements can actually get in the way of performance. Some examples are measurements that focus on an activity rather than customer requirements, targets that move the activity towards meeting the target rather than meeting customer needs, measures that cause waste (like cutting off a ‘customer help’ call to meet a time target, then having the customer call back and fill up the que) and rankings that damage morale.

Seddon points out that the 4 main areas to focus on to take worthwhile measurements are Customer, Capability, Process and System. His focus fits in perfectly with ISO 9001:2015 requirements, and can lead an organization to creating useful measurements for analysis.

Clause 9: Performance Evaluation.

We see the same wording here as we saw in 2008. There’s an extra requirement in the measurement section – we now have to ‘..deteremine…when results from monitoring and measurement will be analysed and evaluated…’ (91.1.d).

As Seddon suggests, we’re required to monitor information about customer perception, as in 2008, BUT the word ‘requirements’ has been replaced by the phrase ‘…needs and expectations…’ (9.1.2). If we just focus on the contract (needs) and ignore customer expectations they will abandon us in droves, you can be sure. This is a welcome change back to the draft versions of the 2008 upgrade.

To fully support the focus on risk and change management, we see a requirement to ‘…evaluate.. the effectiveness of actions taken to address risks and opportunities…’ (9.1.3 e). Most of the other clauses in this section will be familiar to you, but there’s a stronger call for quantitative evidence of ‘Improvement’. To me, this could be a useful addition to a management system and make it easier for the Organization to demonstrate ‘Improvement’ if, in fact, things have improved. The worst-case scenario will be the one where management pay is tied in to this performance measure. ‘Management by Numbers’ doesn’t work any better than ‘paint by numbers’. It looks OK from a distance, but when you get up close you can see that it’s fake. In fact, it often drives behavior opposite to what we’re after.

The ‘Analysis and evaluation of data’ section is much more general than the current list. I think it lends itself to a broader range of data analysis, too. This will surely help, if done carefully and if focused on value added measurement and analysis. I hope we stop measuring stable processes and wasting valuable time, “because that’s the way we’ve always done it”.

9.2.2 – Internal Audit

No surprises in the Internal Audit section, but a welcome addition of including a requirement to ‘…define the define the audit criteria and scope for each audit…’(9.2.2 b). It would be value-adding to include Quality Objectives in the planning of the audit and consider any identified risks to ensure they are being managed well. Auditors will have to learn how to steer away from the old style of auditing to see if procedures are being followed to a path of assessing whether processes are producing the right results. IRCA put out a great article on this approach:

9.3 – Management Review

One notable addition here is the requirement that reviews are planned and carried out ‘… to ensure its continuing suitability, adequacy, effectiveness and alignment with the strategic direction of the organization.…'(9.3.1).

Another tweak on the ‘inputs’ side now includes the need to review ‘…the effectiveness of actions taken to address risks and opportunities (see 6.1)..’ (9.3.2 e)

I’m glad to see us moving closer to a ‘Business Management System’ rather than just a Quality Management System. This movement is further enhanced with integrated systems that include other Standards like ISO 14001 (EMS) and ISO 45001 (OHS) in the new ‘Annex SL’ format that defines a high-level structure for all management systems. This means that even though each International Standard has its’ own set of unique requirements, the structure, or headings will be the same, or at least consistent. I hope this does away with multiple, time wasting systems where an integrated system would be much more of an asset. I’m not sure all the Registrars will like fewer billable audit days, but they will be delivering more value to us!

The money-maker: Clause 10 Imporovement

To find out if your ISO life can be simpler…

[separator icon=”icon-chevron-down” hex_color=”a1a1a1″]