With the revised ISO 9001, the requirements for employees are also changing. “Competence" is the key term, as formal qualification is no longer enough. In order for the essential QM tasks to continue to be fulfilled, standardized proofs of competence are required.
The realization that a management system can only be effective under certain conditions stands at the core of the competence requirement of the revised ISO 9001 standard. Accordingly, an inventory must be made of the knowledge required to fulfill its tasks. The tasks necessary for the implementation of the management system must be determined and assigned to certain functions. It must be ensured that the persons entrusted with the performance of the tasks actually possess the required competence.
It is no longer sufficient for company heads to formally appoint a top management representative and to just delegate the implementation of the system to them. On the contrary, they themselves are now more responsible than ever before. This is because documented proof of the competence of the employees concerned is now required. In addition, measures to acquire competence are required, such as suitable training and education. This manifests a high demand that goes far beyond those of previous standards.
In cooperation with the European Organization for Quality (EOQ), the German Society for Quality (DGQ) regularly analyzes the tasks necessary for the implementation, maintenance and further development of a management system. They result (directly and indirectly) from the requirements of the QM standard as well as from market analyses and feedback from specialist employees who are responsible for quality management.
Parallel to the development of ISO 9001:2015, DGQ and EOQ analyzed the changes in tasks and activities and updated the corresponding normative documents. This ensures that the further training and certification of quality and management personnel on the basis of the DGQ and EOQ certification programs covers essential requirements for (partial) competences.
The tasks associated with the implementation and operation of a management system are not fundamentally new. However, individual focal points are shifting and new aspects are being added. Companies with a management system certified in accordance with ISO 9001 now have to analyze, evaluate, and consider the opportunities and risks.
The context of the organization and its influence on the organizational development must be understood and considered. Above all, the further development of the management system should be promoted in the future, taking into account improvement, innovation, change, and organizational knowledge. The main tasks remaining are to identify legal and other normative requirements relevant to the system and to ensure their implementation in the company.
In addition, there are focal points such as process management, identifying customer-specific requirements, and coordinating their evaluation and implementation within the company. Furthermore, it is required to continuously analyze customer interests and to represent and implement them within the company. At the same time, the company management must be supported in its management tasks and in assuming its responsibility for the management system.
This means that internal audits must be planned and carried out and audit programs must be drawn up and monitored. Innovations and changes with relevance for the management system must also be communicated and employees advised in this regard. These tasks serve to ensure customer satisfaction through the QM system and to ensure that compliant products and services are delivered as a contribution to the sustainable business success of the organization.
The DGQ has derived updated job and competence profiles from the tasks and activities analyzed and necessary for the management system. These were assigned defined certificates via suitable certification programs. In this way, organizations or the persons involved can identify which profile comes closest to their specific tasks.
The job profiles form the basis for the derivation of target competencies, the development of a training offer for quality management specialists and auditors as well as the definition of suitable competence tests and proofs. They are described in the EOQ certification program Competence Specification/Certification Scheme (COS/CS 9000), which is also the technical basis for the accreditation of the DGQ personnel certification body.
Already at the turn of the year 2014 to 2015, the accreditation of the DGQ body for the certification of personnel was renewed on the basis of COS/CS 9000. Thus, the corresponding DGQ certificates are recognized both nationally and internationally via the EOQ. Since 2014, the EOQ Quality Auditor Certificates have also been recognized by the International Personnel Certification Association (IPC), which operates worldwide, and bear the IPC logo.
Based on ISO 9001:2015, the responsible management of every organization must ensure that it effectively implements the QM system and achieves the defined objectives and planned results. To this end, it must provide the necessary resources and entrust competent employees at all levels of the company with the associated tasks.
One factor that is explicitly mentioned here is the need to clearly define responsibilities and authorizations. This is intended to ensure that the QM system meets the requirements of ISO 9001, that the processes deliver the intended results, that reporting on the QM system works, that customer orientation is promoted in the organization, and that the integrity of the system is maintained in the event of changes. In future, company heads will be able to demonstrate the required skills of their QM specialists and auditors by means of standardized personal certificates and thus also have access to highly competent employees on paper.
Christoph Pienkoß, Dipl.-Ing. (Degreed Engineer)
Christoph Pienkoß has been the new Managing Director of Deutsche Gesellschaft für Qualität (DGQ) since autumn 2015. Prior to that, he was head of the German Association for Housing, Urban Planning and Spatial Planning and was instrumental in developing its department of international cooperation. As a lover of medieval architecture, the Düsseldorf-born expert is the co-founder and chairman of the association for the European Route of Brick Gothic.