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ISO 9001 and the requirements for Information for External Providers

How many times have you had issues with your suppliers or contractors and the root cause of that issue turned out to be that they just didn't have the right information or clear information from your organisation? It happens more often than people care to admit yet there is no need for this to happen if you actually take a bit of time and think about the information that your external providers actually need. ISO9001:2015 Clause 8.4.3 is all about exactly this, what information do you need to think about and provide.

Clause 8.4.3 of the ISO9001:2015 standard does 2 things, firstly it states that "The organisation SHALL communicate to external providers its requirements for:" There's that word SHALL again meaning you need to be doing this and why wouldn't you want to be clear with your external providers about your requirements, seems like an obvious thing to do right? The key part of the clause, however, is that you, as an organisation, need to ensure that what you communicate to the provider is adequate for them to be able to meet your requirements and those of your Quality Management System.

Secondly, it breaks down the requirements of the information into 6 distinct parts as follows
a) The Processes, Products and services to be provided This is simple and obvious, you need to be clear with the requirements to your provider about exactly what it is they are providing you
b) Approvals You should be able to provide the external provider with details and requirements required to meet any approvals for your products and services either in terms of your organisation requirements or legislative requirements. What methods, processes and equipment are required for the product or service to meet the approvals requirements and finally what are the approvals required for the release of products or services into your organisation or to your end customer? Who should give them?
c) Competence, including required qualifications of the persons ​ In terms of the people in the providers organisation, what level of competence, training, experience is required by you for them to meet your needs? For example, if you are dealing with industrial wiring in your products do the approval need to be from a certified electrical engineer or electrician? For drawings does a chartered engineer need to sign off on them?
d) The External providers Interactions with the organisation ​ How will the external provider interact with your organisation, can they communicate with your end customer? Who are the key contacts within each organisation who have the authority to make certain decisions? Do you want everything in writing or will a phone call do the trick?
e) Control and Monitoring or external provider performance What are the requirements in terms of monitoring the external provider? Will there be KPI's put in place, weekly reports required? What about visits? These all need to be outlined so everyone is clear on the measures.
f) Verification or validation activities that the organisation intends to perform or its customer intends to perform at the external provider's premises ​ You should provide a breakdown of any validation or verification requirements you or your end customer have on the external provider that you will perform on their premises. Will you audit them for example? Will you have an external auditor check up on them or will the provider have to use external labs to validate and verify their outputs before passing it to you.


This sounds like a lot of stuff to think about, but really if you step back for a second and think about it, if you ticked off all these things how clear would it be to everyone what is expected? How much time and wrangling would it save later when you decide, we should have checked up on that or you find there is a legal requirement or an end customer requirement to verify certain things.

Taking the time to understand and implement clause 8.4.3 of the ISO9001:2015 standard and ensure that the information for external providers is correct really is time well spent upfront to sale a huge amount of time and effort later. 

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