Death of the Manual

The transition to the new standards has gifted us ISO professionals a real opportunity. We can throw out the ISO manual... Controversial I know, but you will get over it I'm sure.

When the new versions of ISO9001 and IS014001 standards were going to be published I attended an awareness seminar to get an overview of what the changes were looking like. The statement made was "there would no longer be a requirement for a manual". "Wow, great" I thought, but I was gobsmacked by the meltdown in the room and statements like "but we've spent 30 years developing ours".

Now I'm not against manuals they certainly have a place, and if they are how you work, they certainly shouldn't be thrown away (especially by the guy who worked for a company making nuclear reactor parts above).

What I would say is you need to ask yourself this really important question. "Is this the bible of how we set out to achieve what we do?" If the answer is "Yes", well great carry on. If the answer is more along the lines of "well we blow the dust of it for every external audit" its probably time to migrate to a different approach.

I usual work around the signposting approach. Instead of lots of words, it is frequently easier to create a document that points towards documentation or activities that represent "how we do business". This is especially true in complex business's with multiple areas of responsibility. It is easier to signpost to the operations team's activities rather than try to document everything they do (we know who really keeps documentation up to date). What are the benefits:

- You can point at what you do and where it is done

- Responsibility for different areas of the standard is clearer

- It makes your life easier as an ISO professional

So maybe its time to throw out that manual... of course just remember to recycle it.

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