A new clause, a new direction.  A giant clause with plenty of movement of old stuff and new stuff combined.  I will spend the next 3 or 4 months exploring this clause.  The main topics of clause 7, support ….

Resources.  Competence.  Awareness.  Communication.  Documented Information.  I have dealt with documented information in the past and will re-address it again as much has been discovered as the auditing fraternity begin to calibrate their opinions. Competence and awareness are a focus on the old training clause, but with some interesting spin.  Resources is a re-hash of the previous standard but does have the hidden sting of including “test equipment and calibration”.  Which leaves us with this month’s topic of communication.  Yep, good old communication.  A whole sub clause on how and why.  Here is the rub.  7.4 Communication.  The company determines the internal and external communications relevant to the Quality Management System, including: on what it will communicate; when to communicate; with whom to communicate; how to communicate and; who communicates.

No required retained or maintained documented information.  No prescription.  But the certifiers are, perhaps, giving it a little too much attention.  As always, the easiest way to get over that hurdle is to have a policy or a process or a procedure.  A give away will follow.  But if you read on, you can decide what is best for your company.  As always, the most common means of addressing any clause from the standard is to have one or any combination of a policy, process, procedure.  It makes good sense and good risk mitigation to have this.  I am also not one for littering a quality management system with a plethora of documentation just to address the standard.  The attention given to the clause by the certifiers makes some form of documented information a must.  But not mandatory.  If communication protocols are understood, which can be instilled through training or awareness programs, then no further documentation is required.

However, when you need to introduce such protocols or your risk exposure to regulators or media might need a little enforcement, the documentation path is recommended and under pinned by further training and awareness.  And if you do, the standard is quite explicit with what should be addressed with regard what internal and external communications relevant to the Quality Management System are needed.  What it will be communicated.  When to communicate.  With whom to communicate.  How to communicate and the all-important, who does the communicating.  Get the leadership team involved and all should be straight forward.  The good thing about this clause is that it meshes very nicely with other management system requirements such as safety and environment.  So why not have a policy or procedure that describes just what you want in place for when those icky interested parties come spruiking their requirements and needs.

You don’t have a communication procedure?  Well you could if you used our myQuality platform.  Click on Communication Procedure and you can read or download ours.  User name / password is guest / guest