ISO 9001 is being revised – this has been announced by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). Eight years have passed since the 2015 revision and about two years since the decision against a new version after five years. Now the responsible committee within ISO has decided to update the standard. But how does the decision to revise an international standard come about in the first place and which factors could be considered for a new version?
With more than one million certifications worldwide for ISO 9001 – almost 50,000 of them in Germany – it is the most frequently implemented international standard, as figures from ISO show. Many industry-specific standards are based on ISO 9001 – regardless of whether they are issued by ISO itself or by other organizations. It is therefore the standard according to which companies all over the world build their management systems, and it can confidently be called the mother of all management system standards. Its influence on the work of millions of people and on the quality of products and processes around the world is correspondingly great.
ISO regularly reviews whether the standards it issues are internationally accepted and whether their contents are still up to date. For this purpose, the organization has developed an comprehensive process, which it calls the Systematic Review process. At the end of this process, the document is either confirmed in its existing form or subjected to a revision or amendment. If the Systematic Review shows that hardly anyone in the world applies the standard, then it can be withdrawn as a result. The responsibility lies with the respective Technical Committee within ISO – in this case the committee liable for quality systems, ISO/TC 176/SC2.
The process is initiated at the latest five years after the publication of an international standard or the decision to confirm it, although an earlier revision is also possible at any time. So in the case of ISO 9001:2015, it was time for a review for the first time in 2020. For this purpose, as envisaged in the Systematic Review process, the national standards bodies were also involved. These were given the task of consulting with the stakeholders in their country in order to gain insights into the application and topicality of the respective standard, and then to submit their response to the survey to ISO.
At the time, this ballot showed a narrow majority in favor of retaining ISO 9001 unchanged. A similar result was reached in a user survey, which was also conducted in 2020. The final decision on how to proceed was left to the committee. Based on these and other factors, the committee initially decided against a revision in 2021. However, due to the close outcome of the member ballot and the user survey, the decision was made at the same time to examine within the framework of a project at the preliminary stage project whether a revision would already make sense before the five years had expired.
Starting in June 2023, the committee then voted again on a possible revision of ISO 9001 – and this time decided in favor of it with the required simple majority of its members. As reported by the German Association for Quality, the revision now pending is to take into account "among other things, the effects of global changes [...] as well as changes in QM application and through the use of new technologies".
In 2015, for example, hardly anyone could have predicted that the effects of a global pandemic and a war in Europe would have such an impact on entire supply chains. The opportunities and risks of technologies such as artificial intelligence or 5G were also not yet an issue at the time of the last revision. It is conceivable that ISO 9001 will also focus on product quality and delivery reliability in the future, and also pay more attention to topics such as resilience, sustainability, collaborative supply chains, agility and change management.
The revised ISO 9001 is expected to be published in December 2025. This is reported by QZ-online, referring to the outcome of the annual meeting of the responsible Technical Committee. As early as December 2023, the responsible working group will meet for the first time.