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How to identify the needs and expectations of the interested parties

One of the new requirements of standards ISO 9001:2015 and 14001:2015 relates to the interested parties and to their understanding of requirements and needs.

In being maintained or retained, it is an express requirement, and one that did not exist in the earlier version yet has arisen in the new standards without the need to produce evidence, to demonstrate compliance. Let's look to see what the standards say:

ISO 14001:2015


ISO 9001:2015

"4.2 Understanding the needs and expectations of the interested parties: The organisation shall determine:

a) the interested parties to whom the environmental management system applies;

b) the relevant needs and expectations (i.e. the requirements) of the interested parties;

c) which of these needs and expectations will become their legal requirements or other requirements,"


"4.2 Understanding the needs and expectations of the interested parties: Given their effect, or their potential effect, on the organisation's capacity to continuously promote products and services that meet the client's requirements, as well as applicable statutory and regulatory requirements, the organisation shall determine whether:

a) the quality management system applies to the interested parties;

b) the quality management system applies to the requirements of these interested parties. The organisation shall monitor and critically analyse the information relating to these interested parties and their relevant requirements."

EXPECTATIONS AND NEEDS                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

Transition PackAs is understood, in both standards, the aim is to verify whether any need or expectation of the interested parties will become a "requirement" for the Management System. The figure sheds light on the text. Despite the vision of existence of "all the interested parties", those that would have an interest in particular in a specific company must be identified and, from those identified, which of the interested parties is of interest to the organisation should be highlighted. For this, in particular, the standard states that it is a requirement for the relevant needs and expectations to be identified. It should be noted that, in the title of section 4.2 of the standards, the words "needs" and "expectations" appear in relation to the interested parties. Whilst there may be difference in the meaning of the two, in the standard, both are assigned the meaning of "requirements" of the interested parties. As a consequence, NOT ALL other than those deemed pertinent, will become requirements for the company.

It is clear that in environmental management, the interested parties may, for example expect the neighbouring company not to impact on the environment, such as, for example, cause public nuisance resulting from smells or noise. Likewise, if, in the organisation, there are no World Quality Daysmells or noise, these requirements for the interested party will not be applicable. By that same token, in quality management, for example in a city that is dependent on the manufacturing and clothing industries, the interested parties could state that they want to continue to perfect the standard of quality of all the companies in the surrounding are. However, it is possible that this want is not applicable to our organisation. Thus, in order to understand which "requirements" are applicable, it is necessary to cross-reference the expectations of the interested parties with our own assessment. These expectations may relate to quality or to assessing environmental aspects and impacts, performance, etc. and, in addition to this, identifying those requirements that are to be treated as applicable.




WHAT DO I DO AFTER?                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Identify needs and expectations of the interested partiesIf your analysis finds that there are "requirements", the scope of the quality management system and the environmental management system will be influenced by these. Once these "applicable requirements" have been established, these must be implemented by the organisation until compliance is achieved, based on action planes created with a view to produce evidence of efficacy. At the same time, the organisation must monitor representations made by the interested parties, in particular claims, as another way to show evidence that such requirements have been complied with.


As operational situations and conditions change, neighbourhood’s changes, other interested parties surface and even the requirements of the interested parties change, both with regards to the quality management system and the environmental management system, owing to "thought based on risk", these changes can give rise to new requirements, invalidate previous requirements and change some of those that were previously known. Thus, in the ISO 14001 standard, item "9.3 Critical analysis by management" paragraph "f) relevant communication(s) from the interested parties, including claims" states that this shall be monitored by the organisation. In this case, the cycle starts again until the new list of applicable requirements is obtained by the respective interested parties. For the ISO 9001 standard, this approach is not as obvious, yet the following should be evaluated:

"9.3.2.c) information relating to the performance and efficacy of the quality management system, including trends relating to: 1) Client satisfaction and feedback from the respective interested parties..." It is clear that the PDCA applies here.


There is no objective requirement, but there is a clear understanding of such evidence being necessary for an effective quality or environmental management system. These will be internally evidenced, when facing, from time to time, earlier situations and when identifying if there have been any changes or not. It is reasonable to imagine that the organisation will be able to decide more easily whether there is a new situation or not, in addition to checking both old and current documented information. For these reasons, the organisation must opt to keep this evidence available.



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