ISO standards help make the world a safer and more efficient place and help tackle a myriad of societal issues. They also touch almost everything we do. The sparked interest in the new ISO 9001:2015 revision is significant, given that the draft has notable changes vs. the current 2008 version. The task of understanding the revised standard’s effect to your organization and how to prepare for the transition can be overwhelming, yet a few simple steps now can save significant time later.

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO), headquartered in Switzerland, is the world’s largest developer of voluntary International Standards. International Standards provide state of the art specifications for products, services and good practice, helping to make industry more efficient and effective. Developed through global consensus, standards also help to break down barriers to international trade.

Since its founding in 1947, ISO has overseen the development of nearly 20,000 International Standards covering almost all aspects of technology and business—from manufacturing to food safety to healthcare, and more. Most standards are developed by Technical Committees or subcommittees, with the work of standards development completed by experts nominated by their national standards bodies.

At the foundation of all the ISO International Standards is ISO 9001. Here are some of the immediate ways organizations can start preparing for a smooth transition to ISO 9001:2015 before the final standard is published at the end of 2015.

Where do I begin?

The new fifth edition draft is available for purchase. Organizations often underestimate the resources necessary to develop and implement a meaningful quality management system. Or, they assume that a small number of selected individuals are capable of understanding the application of quality management principles to specialized aspects of an organization’s operation, and can develop an effective implementation strategy.

What is the timeline to release ISO 9001:2015?

ISO standards are reviewed every five years. The approval for revisions is agreed on by international ballot, followed by five steps taking anywhere between one to three years for completion. Regarding the development timeline for ISO 9001:2015, in June 2013, the Committee Draft (CD) for ISO 9001:2015 was developed, followed by the Draft International Standard (DIS) in April 2014. The new 52-page draft version can be purchased from Document Center Inc. Note that the draft document is not legally enforceable.

From July 10, 2014, until Oct. 10, 2014, stakeholders have an opportunity to review the draft and provide comments. Afterward, the Final Draft International Standard (FDIS) will be released in July 2015 with an anticipated final published International Standard in September 2015. That date marks the beginning of the three-year transition period, which runs through September 2018. During this time organizations begin the transition of ISO 9001:2008 certifications to meet the new requirements of ISO 9001:2015.

What are notable changes?

The new ISO 9001 standard aligns with high-level organizational structure, requiring all new ISO management system standards to be aligned on a high-level structure with a set of common requirements. Additionally, there is a greater emphasis on risk-based thinking as a basis for the management system, more focus on achieving value for the company and its customers, increased flexibility regarding use of documentation, and a more approachable structure for service businesses.

What other facts do I need to know?

All management system standards developed in the future will use a consistent structure and outline such as identical core texts, common terms, and core definitions in accordance with ISO Directives Part 1:2012 “Annex SL”. This is to ensure that all sections of management system standards share the same section headings and core texts. The ISO 14001 and BS OHSAS 18001 standards will also be revised in accordance with the same structure.

What other resources are available to keep current on changes?

A new on-demand webinar, “Awareness, Understanding, and Knowledge of ISO 9001:2015” regarding revisions to the standard is now available from TÜV SÜD America, presented by Nigel Croft, chairman of the ISO Technical Committee. The webinar is intended for managers and other professionals involved in implementing, maintaining, and auditing quality management systems. For access to the webinar, visit TÜV SÜD America’s new ISO 9001:2015 Resource Center. The center was created to help people keep up to date on current and forthcoming changes to the standard. In addition to the webinar, you will find an ISO 9001:2015 fact sheet and an ISO 9001:2015 frequently asked questions (FAQ) page.

Gurdeep S. Mahal is the ISO 9001 technical program manager and a certified lead auditor for TÜV SÜD America, a Quality Digest content sponsor