Management system guidance

10.0 Improvement

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10.3 Continual Improvement

This requirement is comparable to ISO 9001:2008 Clause 8.5.1 Continual Improvement. One of the driving goals of ISO 9001 is the principle of continual improvement. You must be able to demonstrate continual improvement.

Most auditors would expect you to revise the quality system documentation and processes as the quality management system matures or when a new process is implemented.

Determine whether your organization identifies improvement opportunities and management system underperformance using the data output from its processes, such as data analysis and evaluation, internal auditing, management review, and the use of appropriate tools and methodologies to support validate findings.

Ensure that your organization has implemented the identified opportunities for improvement in a controlled manner.

You should seek objective that your organization has implemented a process, with appropriate methods, techniques, and formats for identifying areas of underperformance or opportunities for improvement.

You should expect to evidence that your organization has selected the appropriate tools and techniques to investigate the causes and thereby establishing and implementing a process for continual improvement. The impetus for continual improvement must come from the use of (as a minimum):

  1. Policies;
  2. Risks and opportunities;
  3. Objectives;
  4. Aspect and impacts
  5. Hazards and safety risks;
  6. Analysis and evaluation of data;
  7. Audit results;
  8. Management review;
  9. Non-conformity and corrective action.

Requirements for continual improvement interrelate with the following clauses:

  1. Planning;
  2. Objectives;
  3. Risks and opportunities;
  4. Recommendations for improvement;
  5. Improvement of the system, processes and products;
  6. Analysis and evaluation of data;
  7. Non-conformity and corrective action.

Processes can always be made more efficient and effective, even when they are producing conforming products. The aim of a continual improvement programme is to increase the odds of satisfying customers by identifying areas that need improvement. It requires the organization to plan improvement systems and to take into account many other activities that can be used in the improvement process.

You will be required to ensure that you continually improve the degree to which your products and services meet customer requirements and to measure effectiveness of your processes.

To this end the continual improvement principle implies that you should adopt the attitude that improvement is always possible and your organizations should develop the skills and tools necessary to drive improvement.

The PDCA cycle is a perfect way of introducing continual improvement to your organization’s activities. Each step to improvement can be defined by four sub steps, Plan, Do, Check and Act:

  1. Plan: Establish a timetable for internal audits and management reviews. Establish the objectives and processes necessary to deliver results in accordance with your customer’s requirements and your organization’s policies.
  2. Do: Implement changes designed to solve the problems on a small scale first to see the effect. This minimizes disruption to routine activity while testing whether the changes will work or not.
  3. Check: Monitor and measure processes and product against policies, objectives and requirements and report the results. Also check on key activities to ensure that the quality of the output is conforming and not influenced by the changes.
  4. Act: Take actions to continually improve process performance. Implement the changes on a larger scale, if the experimental changes have proven to be successful. This means making the changes a routine part of the activity.

Also act to involve other people, departments or suppliers affected by the changes and whose co-operation is needed to implement them on a larger scale. Make sure that changes are documented properly according to the documentation requirements.

More information on PDCA


4.1 Understanding Context 4.2 Interested Parties 4.3 Determining Scope
4.4 Management System Processes  
5.1 Leadership and Commitment 5.2 Policies 5.3 Roles, Responsibility and Authority
6.1 Address Risk and Opportunity 6.2 System Objectives and Planning 6.3 Planning for Change


7.1 Resources 7.2 Competence 7.3 Awareness
7.4 Communication 7.5 Documented Information
8.1 Operational Planning and Control 8.2 Requirements for Products and Services 8.3 Design & Development
8.4 Externally Provided Products and Services 8.5 Product and Service Provision 8.6 Release of Products and Services
8.7 Non-conforming Outputs 8.8 Emergency Preparedness 8.9 Accident and Incident Investigation


9.1 Monitor, Measure, Analyse and Evaluate 9.2 Internal Audit 9.3 Management Review


10.1 Improvement - General 10.2 Non-Conformity and Corrective Action 10.3 Continual Improvement

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