Communication in ISO 9001 is essential because it makes conveying of messages systematic. It gives a complete understanding of ideas, opinions, and facts.
In the corporate world, communication is given the utmost importance so processes, rules, and details are properly explained and comprehended.
Likewise, communication supports processes in order to make your Quality Management System (QMS) work when your organization is complying with ISO 9001:2015.
Furthermore, the new communication requirements in ISO 9001:2015 are under Section 7 or the Support clause.
This section covers all requirements for the processes your organization needs to establish to support a QMS.
It will also guarantee the capacity to deliver products and services that fulfill requirements and boost customer satisfaction. These are all within the scope of any QMS and the ISO 9001:2015.
How Does Communication Support a QMS?
The Support section of ISO 9001:2015 includes several supporting processes for a Quality Management System.
- People resources;
- Operations environment;
- Process for creating documented information;
- Process for controlling documented information;
Yet, communication requirements are the simplest of them all.
What Are Significant Communications for a Quality Management System?
Generally, the communication requirements specify that an organization should identify the internal and external communication essential to the QMS.
To determine what is considered relevant, your organization must look back to the scope of its QMS.
As you may recall, the scope defines what the QMS covers within your organization.
Your identified QMS products and services will help decide what communication is significant to your QMS.
What Makes Up a Communication Plan?
When identifying vital QMS communications, your organization must consider the following aspects in a communication plan.
- What Should Be Communicated?
First things first, what communications will you include in your QMS?
Some organizations have legal requirements to report on certain elements of QMS, like product and service non-conformances.
- With Whom Your Organisation Will Communicate?
There’s a list of groups your organization might have to communicate with:
- Business partners;
- Government agencies;
- Members of the public;
Note that communication to be circulated would still depend on the topic. Not all matters of communication should be shared with every party on this list.
- When Will Your Organisation Communicate?
This aspect also depends on the topic or the brevity of the situation.
For instance, when will your organization communicate about a non-conforming product?
How long will your organization wait before you communicate a change in your warehouse’s site?
When should your organization inform stakeholders about vital developments in the QMS?
In some cases, legal or contractual requirements might impact this decision.
- Who Will Communicate?
Similar to the previous one, this decision relies on the severity of the information.
For example, a project team may communicate small non-conformities, whereas CEOs should communicate critical failures.
Moreover, some assigned individuals or representatives may communicate information to the media.
- How Will Your Organisation Communicate?
There are different modes of how your organization can communicate. However, some ways will work better than others due to varying information and a wide range of parties involved.
Depending on what you need to communicate, your organization may use email, press release, in-person discussions, meetings, calls, or text messages.
Prepare and Plan Your Communications
ISO 9001:2015 doesn’t require your communication plan to be part of documented information.
Nonetheless, including your communication plan in the documented information makes the job less complicated.
For instance, if a small company’s CEO will do all communication, then there’s no need to document the communication plan.
On the other hand, a documented plan is advisable in a more complex situation involving many people communicating to different parties, on varying topics, in different modes.
Note that these requirements apply to both internal and external communications.
Remember to identify how you will communicate critical QMS information to your employees.
In addition, QSE Academy suggests developing a communication plan ahead of time.
If your organization waits up to the last minute, you risk mistakes that could damage your credibility, image, and reputation.
Keep in mind that a good QMS also means creating a good communication plan.