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All Hands on Deck

A template for communicating and explaining the transition to ISO 9001:2015

by Govind Ramu

The ISO 9001 standard was revised this past September. More than a million

organizations use the standard, and they’re starting down the path of ensuring their

quality management systems (QMS) meet the revised requirements.1 Quality managers

across many industries and in organizations of all sizes are developing comprehensive

transition plans and asking, “What’s the first step?”

Building awareness is a key element of an effective transition plan. Teams that

work directly with a QMS will be eagerly awaiting details about the changes required by

the revision. For employees unfamiliar with ISO 9001, the momentum generated by the

release of the revision is an opportunity to introduce them to its value and relevance.

It has been fifteen years since the last major change to ISO 9001. Most

employees know that they have to follow a process, be consistent and continually

improve. But they may not know how the international standard’s requirements relate

to their jobs. Raising awareness and getting them to understand these requirements can

help increase staff engagement in the transition process.

In October, SunPower Corporation kicked off its ISO 9001:2015 transition efforts

by introducing the standard and revision to employees in every role and department. As

Standards Connection
December 2015
senior director of SunPower’s global QMSs, I authored the first of several articles that

will be published on the organization’s global intranet.

Employees appreciated the article’s plain-English, easy-to-understand writing

style, and I even received a few inquiries about receiving training on the standard. Staff

members with job functions on the service side of the organization could also relate to

the standard’s intent. Without this type of introduction, there is typically not much

motivation for staff members to read a 40-page standard and understand its


Please use this article as a template that you can use to begin building awareness

of ISO 9001:2015, explaining what it is, why it changed, how it affects your staff

members and how they can help:

<Organization name> focuses on consistently delivering quality. We care about our

customers, the technology we develop and people like you who make it happen.

To deliver on our promise of quality and improve our performance, we use a

quality management system (QMS) across our business that follows a continuous

improvement cycle called the plan-do-check-act cycle. This is a repeatable four-step

model for implementing change and continuous improvement.

What is ISO 9001?

ISO 9001 is the international standard for a QMS that is developed by the International

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December 2015
Organization for Standardization (ISO). It provides an organization a set of principles

that ensure a common-sense approach to the management of business activities,

thereby driving customer satisfaction. More than a million organizations have been

certified to ISO 9001 in many industries—such as aeronautics, healthcare,

manufacturing, government and education.

What does ISO mean to you?

<Organization name> is certified to the 2008 version of ISO 9001 at <XX> site locations.

ISO 9001:2008: Quality management systems—Requirements was revised and the 2015

version of the standard was released last September. <Organization name> is required

to transition to ISO 9001:2015 within three years of this revision.

An organization that is certified to the ISO 9001 standard means it has the

ability to:

 Consistently provide products and services that meet customer and applicable

statutory and regulatory requirements.

 Facilitate opportunities to enhance customer satisfaction.

 Address risks and opportunities.

 Demonstrate conformity to specified quality management system requirements.

Having this standard in place not only helps us remain competitive, it is also

what our customers expect and deserve.

What’s changing?

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December 2015
 New requirements on leadership, understanding organizational context,

interested parties, organizational learning and risk-based thinking.

 Requirements were rephrased to apply to the service side of business.

 Reduced emphasis on required documented procedures.

 New and revised terminology.

 Better alignment with other management system standards (such as ISO 14001,

the standard for environmental management systems).

Why were changes made?

ISO 9001 and related standards go through changes every five years to keep them

current and relevant to global users. Many elements of a business change over time

(such as customer expectations, technology, product and service delivery, and business

approaches). New challenges and risks also surface (such as effects on the environment

and sustainability, and threats to intellectual property and information security). ISO

standards, therefore, must evolve to address the world’s changing demands.

When will changes occur?

<Organization name> will begin the transition immediately. We are creating a transition

plan that is applicable to all site locations certified to ISO 9001:2008 with the goal of

becoming certified to ISO 9001:2015 by <target date>.

Where can I find more information?

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December 2015
Check out these ASQ resources to learn more about ISO 9001 and the revision:

 An ISO 9001 resource page provides a general overview of the standard. It

includes ISO 9001’s history, who should use it, the benefits of using it and what

topics it covers.

 “ISO 9001:2015 and the Origins of Standards.” This ASQ TV video explains the

origins of quality management standards.

 “ISO 9001:2015—15 Things You Must Know Now.” Watch this video to learn

about the ISO 9001 revision and key points an organization must consider.

How you can help

In a nutshell, every task you perform is related to ISO 9001 because everything you do

affects the quality of our organization’s products, processes and systems. The level and

complexity of individual jobs will differ, but everyone can embrace the idea that ISO

9001 is integral and a part of our roles in consistently delivering quality. It improves

efficiencies in time and costs, and helps bring collaboration across traditional silos

through shared standards and requirements.

You will hear more about how ISO 9001:2015 affects your role in the coming

weeks and months. So please stay tuned, and ask questions about any changes you

learn will be required in your business processes to comply with the standard’s

requirements. You can contact <contact name> with questions.

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December 2015

1. “ISO 9000—Quality management,”,

About the author

Govind Ramu is senior director, global quality management systems, at SunPower

Corporation in San Jose, CA. He has a mechanical engineering degree from Bangalore

University, India, and is a licensed professional engineer (mechanical). He is the Chair

elect for U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to ISO Technical Committee (ISO/TC) 176,

subcommittee 1, on ISO 9001:2015 standards. He also is a member of U.S. TAG to

ISO/TC 69 ASC Z1, subcommittee on statistics, and has served as an examiner for the

California Awards for Performance Excellence and Malcolm Baldrige National Quality

Award. Ramu is an ASQ fellow and holds six ASQ certifications: quality manager, quality

engineer, Six Sigma Black Belt, quality auditor, software quality engineer and reliability

engineer. He is regular author for Quality Progress magazine’s “Expert Answers”

department and co-author of The Certified Six Sigma Green Belt Handbook, second

edition (ASQ Quality Press, 2015).

Standards Connection
December 2015