Introducing Annex SL – The new high level structure for all management system standards of the future

Why a new high-level structure?

Over the past years ISO has published many management system standards. Despite sharing some common elements, different ISO management systems standards have different structures, requirements and terminology. This, results in some confusion and difficulties during implementation and make it difficult to integrate different standards. Most organizations have more than one management system standards, this takes up a lot of extra time and resources.

In order to address this problem, ISO developed Annex SL – the framework for a generic management system and the blueprint for all new and revised management system standards going forward to ensure consistency and compatibility. To address industry specific needs, additional requirements for individual sectors will be added to this generic framework.

How will this affect organisations?

All management system standards of the future will have the same high level structure, identical core text, as well as common terms and definitions. Whilst the high level structure cannot be changed, sub-clauses and discipline-specific text can be added.

Annex SL applies to all management system standards, such as full ISO standards, Publicly Available Specifications (PAS) and Technical Specifications (TS).

Annex SL’s high level structure contains 10 clauses:

  • Clause 1:         Scope
  • Clause 2:         Normative references
  • Clause 3:         Terms and definitions
  • Clause 4:         Context of the organization
  • Clause 5:         Leadership
  • Clause 6:         Planning
  • Clause 7:         Support
  • Clause 8:         Operation
  • Clause 9:         Performance evaluation
  • Clause 10:       Improvement

Clause 1: Scope

The scope sets out the intended outcomes of the management system. The outcomes are industry specific and should be aligned with the context of the organization (clause 4).

Clause 2: Normative references

Provides details of the reference standards or publications relevant to the particular standard.

Clause 3: Terms & definitions

Details terms and definition applicable to the specific standard in addition to any formal related terms and definitions standard.

Clause 4: Context of the organization

Clause 4 consists of four sub-clauses:

4.1 Understanding the organization and its context

4.2 Understanding the needs and expectations of interested parties

4.3 Determining the scope of the management system

4.4 The management system

As the flagstone of a management system, clause 4 determines why the organization is here. As part of the answer to this question, the organization needs to identify internal and external issues that can impact on its intended outcomes, as well as all interested parties and their requirements. It also needs to document its scope and set the boundaries of the management system – all in line with the business objectives.

Clause 5: Leadership

5.1  Leadership and commitment

5.2 Policy

5.3 Organizational roles, responsibilities and authorities

The new high level structure places particular emphasis on leadership, not just management as set out in previous standards. This means top management now has greater accountability and involvement in the organization’s management system. They need to integrate the requirements of the management system into the organization’s core business process, ensure the management system achieves its intended outcomes and allocate the necessary resources. Top management is also responsible for communicating the importance of the management system and heighten employee awareness and involvement.

Clause 6: Planning

6.1 Actions to address risks and opportunities

6.2 Management system objectives and planning to achieve them

Clause 6 brings risk-based thinking to the front. Once the organization has highlighted risks and opportunities in clause 4, it needs to stipulate how these will be addressed through planning. The planning phase looks at what, who, how and when these risks must be addressed. This proactive approach replaces preventative action and reduces the need for corrective actions later on. Particular focus is also placed on the objectives of the management system. These should be measurable, monitored, communicated, aligned to the policy of the management system and updated when needed.

Clause 7: Support

7.1       Resources

7.2  Competence

7.3  Awareness

7.4 Communication

7.5  Documented information

After addressing the context, commitment and planning, organizations will have to look at the support needed to meet their goals and objectives. This includes resources, targeted internal and external communications, as well as documented information that replaces previously used terms such as documents, documentation and records.

Clause 8: Operation

8.1  Operational planning and control

The bulk of the management system requirements lies within this single clause. Clause 8 addresses both in-house and outsourced processes, while the overall process management includes adequate criteria to control these processes, as well as ways to manage planned and unintended change.

Clause 9: Performance evaluation

9.1 Monitoring, measurement, analysis and evaluation

9.2 Internal audit

9.3 Management review

Here organizations need to determine what, how and when things are to be monitored, measured, analyzed and evaluated. An internal audit is also part of this process to ensure the management system conforms to the requirements of the organization as well as the standard, and is successfully implemented and maintained. The final step, management review, looks at whether the management system is suitable, adequate and effective.

Clause 10: Improvement

Clause 10 looks at how non-conformities and corrective actions should be managed:

10.1 Non-conformity and corrective action

10.2 Continual improvement

In an ever-changing business world, not everything always goes according to plan. Clause 10 looks at ways to address non-conformities and corrective action, as well as strategies for improvement on a continual basis.