Leveraging ISO 9001 and ISO 21500 to Drive Accountability and Continual Improvement
ISO 9001 is the international standard for quality management and is recognized worldwide. The standard defines a structured approach for managing the quality of work (whether products or services) to ensure customer requirements are consistently met resulting in customer satisfaction.
ISO 9001 has been around since 1987 and has been revised 5 times. The current version is ISO 9001:2015 and is applicable to any type business regardless of size or industry. ISO 9001 can also be applied to a division or function of a business such as a PMO (Project Management Office).
In addition to being a source of common best-practices for quality management, it can also serve as a means to certification. Organizations that are certified, demonstrate to customers and other stakeholders that an effective QMS has been established and maintained. Certification is issued by a 3rd party auditing firm called a Registrar or Certification Body.
ISO 21500 is an international standard providing guidance on project management. Based on PMBoK and Prince2, ISO 21500 provides descriptions of high-level concepts and processes forming the basis for good practice in project management.
However, being a guidance standard, it is not possible to pursue an accredited 3rd party certification to ISO 21500. This in contrast to ISO 9001 which is a requirements standard that can be formally certified by an accredited Registrar or Certification Body.
Yet, a PMO or other organization seeking industry recognition to international standards could take an approach of combining ISO 9001 requirements with ISO 21500 guidance to establish a “quality management system for project management.”
A careful mapping of these two standards shows areas of alignment and integration and the combined “PMO QMS” could be formally certified. Additionally, a “certificate of conformance” could also be provided by a 3rd-party auditor to provide validation that ISO 21500 concepts and practices are effectively implemented.
The advantages of this approach to a PMO or similar organization would be several:
- Establishment of a quality management system to provide management oversight and organizational alignment with overall company goals.
- Implementation of a series of internal checks-and-balances such as internal audits, management review and corrective action designed to drive continual improvement in project management processes.
- Involvement of top management and employees in quality improvement.
- Industry recognition of ISO 9001 certification and ISO 21500 compliance.
A model of the document structure of a PMO QMS would look as follows:
This integrated approach to blending ISO 9001 and ISO 21500 could be advantageous for any PMO seeking to establishing standardization, strengthening management involvement and gaining industry recognition.