Communication is a vital component of day-to-day business activities and in all facets of the business. It is important to manage both internal (employees) and external communication (customer, clients and suppliers). People communicate all levels within an organisation using computers, face to face meetings, internet and other devices (mobile phones, pagers etc.) to deliver the information accurately to others.
The requirements for communication are outlined in the support section (Clause 7) of ISO 9001:2015 (Quality Management System). The standard requires the organisation to determine both internal & external communications that are relevant to the management system. This requirement draws information from the requirement of the clause 4.2 where the needs and expectation of interested parties are understood and determined. By learning the needs and expectations of your stakeholder, you will be able to decide on all relevant communications requirements.
The standard requires the business to determine the factors of communication holistically.
- What to communicate
- When to communicate
- Whom to communicate
- How to communicate
- Who communicates
There is no requirement in ISO 9001:2015 that your communication plan needs to be documented, but it is recommended to have a communication (see below table) that captures the requirement of the standard. Depending on the size and complexity of the organisation, you may choose to implement a communication plan if more than two persons are responsible for different communications within the quality management system.
The above information can be captured easily on a communication plan (See below table with description and example).
What information is communicated? (Policy, requirement, procedure, instructions, incident etc.)
Frequency of the communication
Date & Time (where applicable)
Who is the intended audience for the communication?
(suppliers, employers, board, clients, legal bodies etc.)
Method of communication
(verbal, non-verbal & meetings)
Who is responsible for this communication?
Any records or related documents of this communication (Meeting minutes, recall notice, company announcements, training material etc.)
As per ISO 9001:2015, What are the things that have to be communicated?
Clause 7.3 of the standard requires the business to ensure that all workers are aware of the below things as part of the quality management system. Communication acts as the support and tool to spread awareness.
- Quality Policy: Employee should be communicated with the quality policy and also made ensure they understand the quality policy
- Quality objectives: Interested parties should be aware of the objectives set by the organisation and their responsibility towards meeting the goals.
- Contribution to the system: awareness about the effectiveness of the system and the benefits of maintaining and improving performance.
- The implication of non-conformance: Employees should be aware what the impact would be for the business in the event of non-conformance with the requirements of the management system including legal requirements.
Top management / Leadership is responsible for providing adequate resources such as IT infrastructure, workforce, work environment and other resources that would facilitate communication within the organisation. Communication is not only a requirement of ISO 9001:2015 standard but also a standard requirement across all ISO management system standards (ISO 14001, ISO 45001, ISO 27001 etc.).