The new International Standard was developed by ISO technical committee ISO/TC 176, Quality management and quality assurance, subcommittee SC 3, Supporting technologies, through its working group WG 15, Guidelines for participation and competence of people.

Importance of people

WG15 concluded that based on the eight quality management principles from which the ISO 9000 family is developed, the people aspects of quality management systems needed to be addressed more strongly.

The ISO 9001 principle Involvement of people states : “People at all levels are the essence of an organization and their full involvement enables their abilities to be used for the organization’s benefit”. This links with the Leadership principle, which states: “Leaders establish unity of purpose and direction of the organization. They should create and maintain the internal environment in which people can become fully involved in achieving the organization’s objectives”.

Figure 1: The people involvement and competence process.

In response, the working group has developed a process for encouraging people involvement and competence. It also reviewed each element of ISO 9001, identified typical management system problems that can occur through lack of people involvement, and specified actions to overcome those problems.

Content and key definitions

Two of the key definitions in ISO 10018, central to its title, are :

3.1 Competence, defined as the “ability to apply knowledge and skills to achieve intended results”
3.5 Involvement, defined as “engaging in and contributing to shared objectives”

The contents of ISO 10018 follow the structure of ISO 9001 with the exception of Clause 4 : Management of people involvement and competence, and include :

5. Management responsibility
6. Resource management
7. Product realization
8. Measurement, analysis and improvement

In addition, it contains Annex A : Human factors that impact the quality management system, and Annex B : Self-assessment.

Clause 4 : Management of people involvement and competence

Clause 4 describes the processes an organization can use to implement and maintain people involvement and competence in quality management systems (see Figure 1). It also describes how leaders should encourage people to assume responsibilities, and create the conditions that enable them to achieve desired results.

The process is based on four steps :

4.4 Analysis : data are collected and analyzed to establish an organization’s short- and long-term objectives for people involvement and competence
4.5 Planning : procedures are created to plan the people involvement and competence acquisition process at an organizational, group and individual level
4.6 Implementation : the plans and actions are implemented to achieve the objectives
4.7 Evaluation : plans, actions and outcomes are evaluated to identify opportunities for improvement.

Subclause 4.6 describes general leadership actions to enhance people involvement, and how that is best achieved in an environment in which people participate in planning and influencing decisions and actions that affect their jobs.

Figure 2: Human factors in people involvement and competence.

The people involvement process includes a number of human factors :

  • Communication : integrates people and promotes shared understanding
  • Recruitment : the process of sourcing, screening, and selecting people for a position in an organization
  • Awareness : once communication is established, people should be made aware that ISO 9001 requires an organization to maintain a quality management system
  • Engagement : employer engagement is the organization’s commitment to improving the partnership and developing shared understanding between people and their managers
  • Teamwork and collaboration : occurs when people work together for a common goal
  • Responsibility and authority : managers should be responsible for providing people with the authority to make decisions about their work
  • Creativity and innovation : success results from a high degree of creativity. Enabling creativity creates a higher sense of personal fulfilment and consequently enhances involvement
  • Recognition and rewards : the organization should recognize actions that improve people involvement

The guidelines in Clauses 5 to 8 provide the specific actions to meet individual quality management system requirements, such as those specified in ISO 9001. Some of these actions are shown below

Clause 5 : Management responsibility

Clause 5 recommends that top management explain to the people in the organization the value created by the quality management system, the importance of customer satisfaction, and the relationship between quality policy, business plans and individual roles. Managers should involve people in setting objectives and, in preparing the management review, should establish involvement and competence objectives and communicate these to the organization.

Clause 6 : Resource management

Clause 6 addresses human resources, and advises that human resource planning should be strategic (long term) and tactical (short term), and include a recruitment and selection process. That process should be transparent to candidates, and emphasize the importance of their competence. The clause also refers back to the competence acquisition process described in Clause 4.

Clause 7 : Product realization

Clause 7 guidelines require that those responsible for product realization and service delivery understand customer needs and expectations, as well as product requirements. Meetings addressing complaints should involve people in departments affected by the complaint.

Clause 8 : Measurement, analysis and improvement

Clause 8 states that when people from all business functions are engaged on the audit team, that team is seen as representative of the entire organization. It advises that those being interviewed during an audit should be made aware that the audit involves assessing the process and not the person.

Annex A

Annex A describes in more detail the factors that impact on people involvement and competence, as previously listed in 4.6. and explains why each is important, and outlines the benefits gained from their implementation. Table 1 shows the full list of these human factors.

Following are extracts from several key factors :

  • Awareness : leaders should ensure that people in the organization understand the purpose of the quality management system, and their role in the system. They should be involved at all stages of identifying the process and controls they work with, and be aware of their process responsibilities
  • Communication : effective communication is necessary for people inside and outside the organization, to ensure they work with common objectives. As organizations grow and become more complex, communication becomes more difficult
  • Creativity and innovation : creativity and innovation inside the organization enables the improvement of existing processes and products, and the creation of new products and services for the market
  • Education and learning : the learning organization focuses on increasing knowledge to continually increase its performance. Organizations must be competent to be competitive
  • Empowerment : Empowerment enables people to take responsibility for their work and its results
  • Engagement : When people are fully engaged in the organization’s activities they experience more personal fulfilment, and the organization consequently conducts its activities more effectively. Engagement is the outcome of effective recruitment followed by introduction to the workforce through an awareness process.

Annex B

The guidance in Clauses 5 to 8 can be used as a checklist to assess people involvement and competence in an organization. Annex B provides a rapid high-level guideline for self-assessment.

A better framework

Although there is a body of knowledge available that seeks to address the people need, it is not in a form readily accessible to users of ISO standards and is often hard to find and difficult to link. However, ISO 10018 can help by providing global guidance on what knowledge to use when implementing ISO 9001, and the link between the quality management standard and people involvement. It enables multinational organizations to develop a more consistent business culture with a common quality management language, and a better framework for global communication.

People involvement is a prevention-based activity investing in training, teamwork and communications. Although it may be perceived as a cost, people involvement is actually a shift in time allocation from correction to prevention.

Following ISO 9001 certification – and with an excellence mindset among a broader group of people as a result of ISO 10018 implementation – organizations can then progress more rapidly to continual improvement. An easier transition from ISO 9001 to excellence models and awards can also be expected.

Peter Merrill
Peter Merrill
Convenor ISO/TC 176/SC 3/WG 15

Peter Merrill is Convenor of ISO technical committee ISO/TC 176, Quality management and quality assurance, subcommittee SC 3, Supporting technologies, working group WG 15, Guidelines for participation and competence of people – the developers of ISO 10018:2012, and is also a member of the Strategic Advisory Group of ISO/TC 176 and Liaison with TC 260, Human resources. Mr. Merrill is a conference keynote speaker and author of Innovation Generation and Do it Right the Second Time.