This guest post was written by George J. Newton. Scroll to the bottom of this article to find out more about George.
New ISOs, or those that have been recently updated, have a new structure known as the Annex SL high-level structure. This brings uniformity to ISOs, making them more straightforward to implement and align with other Standards.
Under this new structure, Clause 4.2 now requires you to understand the needs and expectations of your interested parties. Knowing this can help you to develop and deliver products and services which consistently meet expectations, as well as look for ways in which your organisation can improve.
To help you meet this requirement, here’s what you need to know.
Who are your interested parties?
To begin, it is helpful to first identify who your interested parties are.
An interested party is quite simply a stakeholder who buys your products or services, such as one of your customers, or someone who impacts your organisation’s ability to provide its products or services.
The latter can include:
- Your suppliers
- Governmental organisations
- Industry bodies
- Trade unions
- The local community
To ensure you capture all of your interested parties, carefully list everyone who could have an impact or whose requirements you must meet. Comb through your legal documents, corporate requirements and all contracts and agreements that your company have decided to comply with to guide your research.
What are your interested parties’ needs and expectations?
Now you know who your interested parties are, you need to establish their needs and expectations.
Needs and expectations simply refer to what people want from your organisation. For instance, your customers will be buying goods or services from you – their needs and expectations could therefore revolve around pricing and reliability. Your workforce, on the other hand, will need access to key resources in order to produce your goods or services as well as job security and training.
There are lots of ways you can collect information on your interested parties in order to understand what they need.
For example, you can look at:
- Client contracts
- Supplier contracts and agreements
- Customer feedback
- Returned products
- Warranty information
- Legislation and regulations
- Industry standards or codes of practice
- Internal audit records
- Minutes from meetings with interested parties
- Information from quality risk and opportunity registers
- Product or service requirements
- Shareholder agreements
Managing needs and expectations
You now know who your interested parties are and what their needs consist of. Next, you need to put a plan in place to meet those needs.
A plan for this needs to be reviewed by senior management before it can be approved and implemented into your quality management system. It’ll also need to be implemented into other protocols, such as your customer requirements, operational activities, process controls, hazard and aspect registers, risk and opportunity registers, and legal and compliance registers.
When making this plan, it’s a good idea to rank your interested parties and their requirements with regards to their importance, relevance, and so on. This will give you helpful guidance when developing your organisation’s quality processes.
It’s also a good idea to communicate with your stakeholders during this process. This is especially important when it comes to ensuring compliance with legal obligations. You may need to provide up-to-date information, so make sure you have a process in place to collect this.
Want to know more about ISO 9001’s requirements? To find out more, take a look at the requirements of ISO 9001.