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An Overview of ISO 10018

Tamara Wilhite is a technical writer, industrial engineer, mother of two, and published sci-fi and horror author.

What Is ISO 10018?

ISO 10018 is a quality management standard that focuses on people, specifically how to engage them in quality management systems and process improvement as well as how to determine who should be in what roles.

Let’s look at what ISO 10018 says, the potential impact of the ISO standard 10018 and how ISO 10018 relates to other ISO standards.

ISO 10018 applies the process improvement cycle to the human side of quality management systems.

ISO 10018 applies the process improvement cycle to the human side of quality management systems.

What Does ISO 10018 Say?

ISO lists eight quality management principles and discusses human factors that have an impact on quality. The eight quality management principles in ISO 10018 are the same as those in ISO 9000.

The human factors it says affect quality are leadership, people involvement and competence. The leadership factors in ISO 10018 are leadership and vision. Personnel participation factors or engagement include: communication, teamwork and collaboration, networking, discipline-motivation, responsibility and authority, and recognition and awards. The competence factors in ISO 10018 are recruitment, awareness, education and learning, creativity and innovation and competence.

ISO 10018 outlines processes any sized organization can follow to implement and sustain involvement in quality management systems (QMS). It follows the conventional process improvement loop, beginning with the input of the organization’s needs, policies, objectives and current state. It then calls for a variation of the plan-do-act-check loop. Section 4.4 is analysis step.

Section 4.5 of ISO 10018 is the planning stage. Section 4.6 is the implementation step. Section 4.7 is the evaluation step. The result of section 4.7 is the “output” of the improvement of the quality management system’s HR side. The ideal output is appropriate competence levels, involved (engaged) people and lots of documentation.

ISO 10018 sets forth processes to determine and maintain competence in quality. A likely end result of this standard will be formal certifications for individuals in managing quality management systems and leading quality departments.

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ISO 10018 lists actions organizations can take to improve engagement at all levels.

It provides a list of actions your company can take to meet quality management system requirements like those outlined in ISO 9001 though it can work with any QMS.

The Potential Impact of ISO 10018

ISO standard 10018 first came out in 2012; it was released by the same committee that issued the ISO 90001 quality management standard. The standard creates the foundation for having an ISO certification in process improvement and ISO in general.

One likely impact of the ISO 10018 standard will be a shift from Six Sigma and Lean credentials to the ISO 10018 certification instead for process improvement professionals.

Anyone working in quality will need to become far more familiar with ISO 9000 quality standards. It probably will lead to workplace discrimination against quality personnel who don’t have ISO certifications, since the standard itself calls for recruitment of certified people as defined by ISO 10018. A potential end result will be an influx of ISO 9000 trained personnel into Human Resources and quality management roles.

The standardization and regimentation of human resources can be problematic in and of itself. Implementing standard processes for issuing awards and recognition can be a positive thing if everyone is treated equally, such as rewards for improving quality whether you work on the line or in the accounting department. Conversely, strict formal processes for everything tend to inhibit creativity, though the standard has a line-item for that.

A formal HR standard for quality management systems is likely to increase bureaucracy in quality programs just as diversity mandates dramatically increased the size of bureaucracy at federal contractors and educational institutions. This standard, when implemented, could end up stifling innovation and process improvements just as mindfulness limits the generation of new ideas and hyper-awareness of all potential offended parties silences honest and open discussion.

ISO 10018 can be considered the human resources supplement to ISO 9001. ISO 10015 is a standard currently under development that sets guidelines for competence management and training. ISO/IEC 17021 may become the standard that ISO 10018 certifying authorities have to meet in order to issue credentials saying the person or organization meets ISO 10018 standards. There are already groups like the ICEE giving training and certification per ISO 10018.

© 2018 Tamara Wilhite

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