Tuesday 21 June 2016

“Interested parties”: their significance for quality management system

In early years, Quality management system (QMS) stipulated that companies must monitor customer need satisfaction as a mandatory requirement. However, in the 2008 version, ISO 9001 standard emphasized customer focus as well as the supplier relationship simultaneously. The standard focussed on supplier collaboration for knowledge sharing, expertise development and creating value for mutual benefit. Systems approach to integrating and aligning the processes, further provided opportunity for value creation for customers as well as suppliers. The Concept of treating the next process as customer, improved the collaboration, alignment and integration of processes, thus enabling a systems thinking approach.

The new version of Quality management system: integrated approach
2015 version of ISO 9001 combines the customers, suppliers as well as others as interested parties. Companies must identify and understand the needs and expectations of relevant interested parties. List of interested parties should include:
  • direct customers,
  • regulators and government agencies,
  • distributors,  contractors,
  • wholesalers and retailers,  stockists,
  • shareholders and lenders,
  • suppliers, transporters and partners in supply chain,
  • end users,
  • Employees.
Relevance of needs and expectations of interested parties must be understood and process integration should be built in such a way as to benefit them as well as the company.  

Section 4.2 of ISO 9001:2015 standard speaks about understanding the needs and expectations of interested parties.

Section 4.1 talks about organizations ability to attain intended outcomes and internal/external issues affecting the capacity of the company, as a result of needs of interested parties.

Section 6.1 mentions the issues and risks and opportunities arising out of needs of interested parties to be addressed in QMS, through plans and processes for prevention of undesirable effects on the intended output of goods and services.

Section 4.3: The scope of your QMS should enable you to address the relevant needs of the interested parties.

Other clauses and areas due to which QMS must address the needs of interested parties:
Section 5.2.2 your Quality Policy
Section 9.3 management review
Section 8.3 design inputs for development of new goods and services

In determining as well as fulfilling  the relevant expectations of   interested parties their relationship with the company must be analysed, as discussed below.

End users and Customers
End users are not buying the goods and services directly, but are affected by the way the processes are carried out and controlled. In many cases end users may be more important than the direct customers, because, they may  not be easily identified and their needs and expectations could be difficult to determine. Monitoring changes in their needs and expectations may be a difficult task and QMS should address these issues. Their requirements may affect the firm’s ability to fulfil them. Their needs and expectations should be utilized in new product development and customer service design and improving the processes.

Customers are the people who buy the company’s goods and services directly. They are more vocal in voicing their expectations.  The company must monitor and   understand the changes in their expectations and needs. They are directly impacted by the quality of goods and services offered as well as the pricing.

Regulators and Governmental agencies
Expectations of regulators and govt. agencies are based on the legal requirements and regulatory controls, such as industry specific environmental regulations, safety regulations and occupational health requirements. Expectations may relate to processes as well as goods and services. These requirements must be addressed in the QMS and any changes in regulatory requirements too need to be identified and addressed promptly.

Supply chain partners and stake holders
Partners in the supply chain such as suppliers, contractors, transporters, stockists, wholesalers and retailers have an important role to play in ensuring effectiveness of your QMS. Their expectations must be addressed by integrating them in the critical processes of the QMS. Similarly employees, shareholders and lenders are also affected by the effectiveness of QMS and their concerns and expectations need to be identified and addressed.

The purpose of your business is to satisfy the needs of the customers and other interested parties. ISO 9001 requires that you understand the needs and the expectations of customers and end users, regulators as well as other interested parties, and address those needs through  integrated processes, which maximize the benefit to the interested parties while also attaining the goals of the company.
 When your QMS ensures integration of the processes in order to fulfil the expectations of the interested parties you are closer to the planned compliance and certification to the requirements of ISO 9001:2015.

ISO 9001 certification
Organisation are looking to achieve ISO 9001 Certification for several reasons eg: getting pre qualified for tenders, Customer request, etc,. To develop and Implement systems quickly and have a systems that adds value to your organisation you may need the services of specialist ISO 9001Consultants who can guide you through the requirements of the ISO 9001 Quality management system including the identification of relevenat interested parties to the organisation.

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