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The Increasing Role of Management Representatives in Business towards ISO 9001:2015

Posted on February 21, 2013 in Articles

MR in Business Risk Management

We have seen through several years transformations in ISO 9001 which substantiates the important role of Management Representatives (MRs)  from Managing Procedures to Managing Processes to Managing Results .  ISO 9001 has gone past the 25 years since its inception last 1987 and is here to stay. The concepts of customer, process, management review and continual improvement among others have been stable through many organisations and so is the application of the ISO 9001 standard. Everyone can associate with the requirements that guided organisations in managing the assurance for quality products and services all towards increasing assurance for customer satisfaction and the drive for continual improvement.

With its silver years of existence and 4 revisions, it has seen through the transformation of the role of management representatives in various organisations and is yet to see some further developments to address the emerging issues that we have today. Through the years, with the observed  revisions of related management system standards and the emerging revision for ISO 9001:2015, we are about to see further challenges for the  post of being the management representative, be it a QMR : Quality Management Representative or the increasing role of being the IMR: Integrated Management Representative. A growing question then arises in every practitioner for Management System.

ISO 9000 Revision

(Q) What do we anticipate for ISO 9001:2015? What is in store for the new QMR?

The technical experts behind the ISO 9000 series of standards have been chartering the change and soliciting data from user communities and reviewing the feedback from the market. With the results of such studies are two key directions:

The first being intention is that ISO 9001:2008 would be revised with only minor changes, and this had  already been witnessed approximately 5 years ago where the revision was only on terminologies, linkage with relevant standard and provisions for managing competence particularly for auditors as has been supported with the ISO 19001 version 2011.

Second, ISO 9001:2015 which is its target date of release would result in a more extensive revision, addressing global and technological changes in the marketplace.  There are areas of consideration that will go into the next revision, and they are those that relates to (1) sector - specific standards and to improvements and changes in technology, supply chain management, and globalisation.

(1)    Sector-specifics and related management system standards
Over the years, there’s been a proliferation of sector-specific standards based on ISO 9001. In the last two years, standards have been added relating to food safety - ISO 22000,   road safety management – ISO 39001, and the petroleum industry - ISO 29001. They join the now-mature standards in such areas as medical device - ISO 13485, automotive - ISO/TS 16949, telecommunications - TL 9000, and aerospace - AS9100. These sector-specific standards are mostly founded on ISO 9001 and their sector-specific nature revolves around the addition of requirements that are unique to a particular industry. For example, automotive suppliers, registered to ISO/TS 16949, deal with customer specific requirements and application of core tools.

The standards field has been further augmented by standards relating to environmental issues - ISO 14001, health and safety - OHSAS 18001, energy management – ISO 50001, sustainable events management – ISO 20121 and competence in laboratory testing and calibration - ISO 17025.  The above related standards are now growing to be not just an effort for environmental integrity and societal accountability but are becoming to be a customer contractual requirement.

It can be challenging for an organisation complying with such commitments with customers and to develop a QMS that incorporates the requirements of multiple sector-specific standards effectively and efficiently.  Though reality prevails that meeting customer requirement entails that you manage the business risks and related risks that will lead to its disruption. And such is where the auditors’ competence and the integrative function of the management representative are headed in the future of ISO 9001:2015- the ability of your present management system to integrate or link with related management system standards and the accompanying objectives.

Some of the future concepts being addressed are the integration of risk-based thinking. The objective of other management system standards i.e.  ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001 differ significantly from this quality management system standard but the model being espoused in the ISO 14001 and the OHSAS 18001 as has been summarised in PAS 99 is being looked at as the integrative model for effective reconciliation of management plans, processes and performance results. This is expected to be another significant input in the next major revision of ISO 9001 to formally adopt the wider perspective of planning which incorporates risk-based thinking.

With such, the QMR: Quality Management Representative or the IMR: Integrated Management representative has to consider the completeness of his knowledge regarding the risks prevalent to the business that will affect customer requirements and their satisfaction. Likewise, this necessitates the challenge on the currency and completeness of the Quality Management Principle to manage uncertainties on its objectives and not only its process and system interfaces. An auditor and a management representative thus not only must possess process and systemic approach of thinking but a risk-based approach for the decisions he must make.

(2)    Improvements and changes in technology, environmental factors, information management, supply chain management, and globalisation.

The developments we see in the technology will likewise give rise to enhancements in processes that deals with Knowledge   Management, Technology and changes in Infrastructure and Communications technology, Lifecycle Management including Outsourcing and Offshoring.

Outsourcing has been addressed in the 2008 version as such that refers to those processes needed by the organisation that are performed by an external entity. It is recognised that outsourcing is a growing aspect of many organisations in focusing on its core competencies and managing cost-effectiveness in managing its processes. The outsourcing strategies also lead the way for globalisation and the growing dependence in supply chain management. Challenges in the management of supply chain abound such as managing least-cost and least-distance including the medium and frequency of shipments that challenges the paradigm towards an efficient and optimal way of doing things.

The growing pace of information growth creates a challenge for application systems to manage documentation and the convenience gives rise to certain risks on information security.

The future of ISO 9001 depends on its ability to retain the generic and universal concepts that make it work among organisations to be workable in managing its most important stakeholder- its customers and its ability to give a framework for managing emerging needs to ensure its continued applicability in our ever-changing world. The thrust for the PDCA cycle might bring further enhancements on the way we improve things utilising principles beyond improvement and on to innovation taking the premise to manage  Performance Effectiveness through Product Conformity and Process Efficiency and the incorporation of Quality Tools and Best Practices.

It is still an anticipated revision but the manner in which such will be addressed will have a long-range effect on the continued viability of ISO 9001 and its value-add to the business. Being an MR then may mean that you manage the emerging concerns abound the industry that your business is in and focus not only on the customer satisfaction but its linkage with the emergence of developments on the global market-place, and such entails managing risks in the business setting. The risks may not be exactly on higher perspectives such as environmental integrity and social accountability just yet but there are risks that go beyond quality that matters to your customers and the top management that you represent.

So as ISO 9001: Quality Management System is here to stay , so does the Management Representative in their role for managing the system along with the risks that goes with it. Way to go FORWARD for all MRs will be to learn Risk-Based Process Management and Auditing and towards Business Risk Management. Risks comes in the picture as creating uncertainties in achieving our objectives, and so we journey from Managing Results and on to the future of Managing Risks and Value Chain in the continuing developments in ISO 9001.

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