Richard Green reports on his trip to Geneva to discuss QMS auditing with ISO, as well as his thoughts ahead of the IRCA Japan Forum
This week saw the realisation of two long-standing personal ambitions. Firstly, a visit to the Bombay Sapphire gin distillery in Laverstoke (other premium gins are of course available) followed by a few days at ISO’s headquarters in Geneva, participating in the revision of what will eventually become ISO/IEC 17021-3.
I can heartily recommend both, though in the case of Geneva you may wish to focus on the city and surrounding area rather than the ISO offices themselves, which are sandwiched between rail tracks and an aviation fuel dump.
Geneva is of course famous for making watches most of us can’t afford and for having an unfeasibly large fountain that floods everything in its immediate vicinity whenever it’s switched on. Disappointingly it wasn’t operating, so I missed out on the spectacle of hordes of drenched tourists, but I guess that provides an excuse to return at some future date.
Most things in Geneva are expensive and as a Yorkshireman this is somewhat irksome. Perceived value for money tends to come high up my selection criteria in most purchasing decisions and especially when seeking hotels. Cheap and cheerful is typically fine, however, occasionally this approach can lead to unintended outcomes. What appeared to be a well-appointed apartment at a bargain price turned out to be located right in the centre of a rather ‘cosmopolitan’ area of the city, an area where there were lots of ladies who seemed keen to make new friends. Scattered around the apartment were plenty of quirky bars and restaurants, all of which I was scared to go into because of the aforementioned ladies. Consequently I found myself cooking a lot of pasta.
Less scary were the members of TC 176 working group 35. Anyone with experience of developing ISO standards will tell you it can be a somewhat taxing affair. Refreshingly, the group found itself vehemently agreeing for most of the time, which kind of took the fun out of the proceedings. This did however allow us to make good progress and sure enough at the end of the session out popped DIS 17021-3 without the need to resort to forceps.
So what exactly is DIS 17021-3 and why is it important? To understand this we need to first look at its parent, ISO/IEC 17021-1.
ISO/IEC 17021-1:2015 contains generic principles and requirements for the competence, consistency and impartiality of bodies providing audit and certification of all types of management systems. This ‘core’ standard is supplemented by a series of complementary standards that set out additional competency requirements for auditing and certification of specific types of management systems. Part 2 for example relates to the audit an certification of Environmental Management Systems, Part 4 – Event Sustainability, Part 5 – asset management systems, Part 6 – Business Continuity Management systems, Part 7 – Road Traffic safety management systems, Part 8 – Security Management Systems (potentially), Part 9 – Anti-bribery management systems and Part 10 – Occupational health and safety management systems.
Our focus however was on Part 3 – Quality Management Systems requirements. This document is important as it sets out what certification body QMS auditors will need to know additionally in order to demonstrate their competence to audit your ISO 9001:2015 quality management system. My suggestion as a good starting point would be the difference between a joint in their arms and the part of their bodies they sit on. This was rejected however following a ballot.
So what did make it into the DIS? Although it is regarded as bad form to disclosure the contents of any ISO document before it is officially released it would not be unreasonable to expect, given the principal changes to ISO 9001:2015 centre on context, leadership, risk-based thinking, documented information and a greater focus on the process approach, that DIS 17021-3 is likely to reflect these.
The draft DIS is now with the ISO editors for a general tidy up before it goes to be translated. Then it’s out for public comment which is when you will get a chance to have your say. Another meeting has then been provisionally diaried in for late-November to review received comments, by which time hopefully the Swiss municipal authorities will have their fountain working again.
Somewhat further afield, the IRCA Japan Forum is on the horizon, which we are freshening up with a new ‘compere’ style of presentation. Now Mr Forsythe has retired it seems it’s up me to plug the light entertainment gap though I must admit I am a little concerned that the only song I know all the way through, ‘On Ilkley Moor bah tat’, won’t translate well for our Asia-Pacific friends, nor will they appreciate the finer points of my single-handed ferret juggling. I suspect further comprises will also need to be made – IRCA Japan has already vetoed my suggestion that we put mushy peas and a ‘half of best’ in the bento boxes, though the pickled eggs appear to have sneaked under the radar, at least for the present.
Once again we have been fortunate to attract high-quality Japanese and UK speakers and I’m particularly delighted Natalie Shoemark-Dyer, Chair of the CQI Next Generation Network, will be there to deliver a presentation. Japan, much like ourselves, face challenges in respect of developing new quality talent and this will be a great opportunity for Natalie to outline the commendable work the NGN is doing in this area. If you happen to be passing do drop in to say kon’nichiwa. The Forum will take place on Saturday 11 June at Pacifico Yokohama.
And so we return to Laverstoke. This Hampshire village now shares something with Manhattan – it’s had a cocktail named after it. And if you are a gin lover it’s a must. Google (other internet search engines are available) the recipe and enjoy responsibly now that we are finally getting some evening sunshine.
Until the next time.
Richard Green is interim head of membership services at the CQI
For more technical insight and events, visit the CQI website.