ISO9001 Awareness & Communication Requirements
Although ISO9001:2015 splits out Awareness (Clause 7.3) and Communication (Clause 7.4) it seemed wrong not to cover them together since when you think about it is, is it possible to have awareness without communication? Here's what the new ISO9001:2015 standard looks for in these clauses.
ISO9001:2015 Clause 7.3 – Awareness
This section of the standard is all about ensuring that everyone who needs to know about your system does. A key element here is the clause says that the organisation shall (there's that word again) ensure that persons doing work under the organisation's control are aware of the Quality Policy, Quality Objectives, their contribution to them and the implications of not conforming.
A key part here is organisations control, so as well as your employees, you should also be ensuring that any contractors you use are also fully aware of your Quality Management System requirements.
So, what constitutes awareness? Well if we look again at the ISO9000 fundamentals document we mentioned in our last post, "Awareness is attained when people understand their responsibilities and how their actions contribute to the achievement of the organisation's objectives". The next question then is how do you demonstrate that? Well, it has a lot to do with good communication and training.
For a start the requirement to work within the organisations quality management system could be a clause in their employment contract but better still when people joining your organisation, ensure they are properly trained on the system. Carry out assessments to measure their understanding and give them support where they don't meet the grade yet. Within people's annual objectives there should be a direct link back to the quality management objectives, not word for word but in a fashion that makes sense for their role within the organisation so that they can control the outcome and own that objective
ISO9001:2015 Clause 7.4 – Communication
The communication requirement of the new standard is again about ensuring that those within your organisation and outside of it get the right level of communication about your quality management system. You should essentially create a communication plan.
You should determine the what information is critical to communicate and with whom you need to communicate it with to ensure that they can do the job they have to do effectively within the organisation. So this would include thinking about what is communicated, how you do that and how often you communicate things about your ISO9001:2015 Quality Management System.
You should also determine what information you share outside of your organisation with clients and suppliers. That means you need to understand who exactly the point of contact should be within that other organisation to ensure the information is passed correctly. You should, of course, be able to demonstrate that you have given this communication and that they have understood the message correctly. The responsibilities for doing the communication should be defined through the roles & responsibilities of the organisation.
ISO9001:2015 Awareness & Communication Summary
As an organisation, you need to ensure that people both internally and externally to your organisation are aware of your quality management system and the part they play in it. You need to have an effective communication plan to ensure that the right people have the right information to allow them to work within your policy correctly. You achieve this through regular communication, training and information systems and, where appropriate assessments and objectives.
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