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ISO 9001: What Are Interested Parties And Why Should I Care?

Another from my 101 series ...

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In this series of helpful blog posts, commonly called a 101, I will be taking a look at the main sections of ISO 9001, what they are, why they are important to your business and a few tips on how to implement the standard ...

Defining your interested parties is a vital part of your ISO 9001 accreditation!

Defining your interested parties is a vital part of your ISO 9001 accreditation!

copyright: lightwise / 123rf

This second 101 is looking at Section 4.2 which is about understanding the needs and expectations of interested parties. So, what are 'interested parties' and why should I care?

An interested party can be internal or external. This is defined in ISO9000 as, "those that provide significantly to organisational sustainability if their needs and expectations are not met". The standard requires you to identify relevant interested parties.

Examples of interested parties are:

  • Shareholders

  • Employees

  • Unions

  • Local council

  • The local community

  • Health & Safety Executive

  • Environmental agencies

  • HMRC

  • Customers

It all depends on what the interested parties influence on the company is.

For instance, in a heavily unionised factory, they may have a large impact. In a small office, the unions may not be interested parties at all. The national government may be a great risk to some companies and not to others. This is because depending on what industry you are in the government may heavily regulate or not which causes risks and/or opportunities for your company.

Why is this important to my business? Well, when you are aware of interested parties that affect your business, you can anticipate upcoming problems more easily. This will enable you to take advantage of the situation or, at least, mitigate the damage if it is outside your control.

For example, keeping an eye on what local council is doing regarding business services and rates means you can plan ahead. Same goes for HSE, if you know what health and safety legislation is coming up you can ensure you comply and won't get fined or worse.

"How do you Identify interested parties needs and expectations?"

They can be identified from the sources such as customer surveys, industry associations, the news (local, national and international) and government legislation. Don't forget your own company and industry knowledge.

Examples of 'needs and expectations' include HMRC needing you to give them accounting information by certain dates, expecting you to comply with the law. Customer may have a need for good to be delivered on time and expect good customer service.

But what do you do with this information? As examples, you can keep this in a spreadsheet, create a table in Word or use a whiteboard in the office to record this information.

Once you have gone through this process, you can use this information to direct your strategy and objectives for the company. If a new need or expectation of an interested party arises, you can then revisit your analysis and see if it has any bearing on where you are heading.

This can happen as often as needed. For some companies, this may be regularly in your design and development of product and services, or less so in your yearly management review.

"Would you like to know more?"

If you'd like to find out more about ISO 9001 or would like to talk about me defining your interested parties, then do give me a call on 01858 414226 or click here to ping me an email and let's see how I can help you.

Until next time ...

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More about Ellen Willoughby ...

I'm Ellen, Director of All About Quality and All About Productivity. I have over 20 years experience as professional in the quality world and 17 years as a practising Buddhist. As a result of this, I have a passion for improvement. in both business and personal life.


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