Risky Business vs Risk-Intelligent Business

Rolling the dice concept for business risk, chance, good luck or gambling

Digitalization, globalization, competition and the speed of technological advances has changed the nature of business.  ISO 9001:2015 has been in effect for a full year and it places a heavy emphasis on using “risk-based thinking” for managing quality-related processes. Risk has always been implicit in ISO 9001.  But the latest revision asks organizations to make a cultural shift—rather than focusing on isolated problem solving and resolution, they’ll focus on prevention and performance improvement.

The International Organization for Standardisation (ISO) explains it this way:

“Risk based thinking ensures these risks are identified, considered and controlled throughout the design and use of the quality management system”.

Under the new guidelines, risk management serves as the cornerstone of quality management system design. As organizations determine the processes needed for a quality management system, they’re also asked to determine the associated risks and opportunities and to plan and implement appropriate actions to address them.

In the context of ISO, the concept of “risk” relates to the uncertainty in achieving the main objectives of International Standards—namely, to provide confidence in the organization’s ability to consistently provide customers with conforming goods and services, and to enhance customer satisfaction. Risk is the possibility of events or activities preventing an organization from achieving its strategic and operational goals.

This shift in thinking does not replace the standard’s process-oriented approach, but enhances it. While the process is still a critical part of ISO 9001:2015, processes must now be implemented with an acute awareness of risk.

Organizations are asked to identify, analyze and prioritize all potential risks as they undergo building or adapting their existing quality management implementations for updated certification.

Risks can be defined by two parameters—the severity, or seriousness, of the harm, and the probability that the harm will occur. Risks can be assessed based on the likelihood they will occur, the likelihood they can be detected, and potential impact should they occur. From there, risks are evaluated based on their importance (what is acceptable, what is unacceptable?) and actions are planned to address the risks, whether that’s avoiding or eliminating the risk or mitigating it.

Once plans are implemented, it’s essential for organizations to check the effectiveness of their actions and continually learn from experience.

What’s the best way to document risk-based thinking and demonstrate the approach during audits?. Evaluate how you evaluate risks today with the processes you have. Understand how you decide when risks are acceptable or unacceptable.  ISO wants to see that you record identified risks when action is required, and the action steps to be taken. 

Putting into place the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) methodology can be a great way to define, implement and control corrective actions and improvements. Companies should Plan what to do and how to do it, Do what was planned, Check that things happened according to plan, and Act on how to improve the next time around.

Companies have two years to make the transition to ISO 9001:2015, as certifications for the 2008 edition will expire after September 2018.

SimpleQuE was one of the first consulting companies to be ISO 9001:2015 certified and we’re ready to assist organizations with transition or implementation.  Please visit our website for more information about our services.

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