Quality organization cannot be agile – ISO9001:2015

Quality organization cannot be agile – ISO9001:2015

Especially big companies know it well. They have decided to start being competitive again and being agile. But! They must follow standards. Customers need it. The public sector requests it. At least the basic one. And the basic one is called ISO9001. And because of ISO and because of all invested money, there is no way back to go lower on the standardized processes and stop using the functional word or excel templates. Management operating system, Resource plans, Risk register, Communication policy, KPIs and many more. So, what to do, any idea?

It depends on what kind of organization you are. At least from the quality point of view. Are you the one certified by ISO9001:2015 (which was a bit annoying to pass) and having all the requested documentation fulfilled mainly for the audit purposes OR are you the one who understands the aim of ISO9001 and who is continuously doing the best to improve the way you work? And try not to lie to yourself. I saw many companies fulfilling documentation because they had to, not because they wanted to and it made sense to them. And that is in direct contradiction of the basic ISO9001 idea. I am going to tell you a secret.

Processes and artifacts are not a pain if you really follow ISO9001. If you do understand it, you have to love it.

The answer to the question why to love it is simple. Because it helps. It helps a lot. And it changes the culture and mindset. Do you feel any similarity with agile practices? Of course. Try to check some of the core agile principles:

We can start the discussion about each of the points, but at the end we will agree that Scrum is built on Customer focus to deliver the biggest possible value. Engagement of people – motivation and Relationship management – trust are some of the basic values for the teams. Continual improvement is the elemental idea of iterative approach in the form of retrospectives and of course it tries to improve the crystal-clear Scrum processes. I believe we are able to find more of the Scrum basics, but these lead me to tell you another secret. The principles in the diagram above are Quality management principles of ISO 9001:2015.

              What is the conclusion? If someone pushes you to do something because you need to pass the standards or because it is written down in procedures and you cannot explain why, don’t do that. Think. Ask. And repeat. That is the basis of ISO9001:2015 and also agility. Use common sense.

And what if the certified auditor told you that you really must e.g. fulfill a document? Simply fire the guy. ISO9001:2015 just says WHAT needs to be achieved, but not HOW it should be achieved. So the guy maybe shares his best practices from the companies on the same level as you are. And you want to be better, don’t you?