[This series of articles tries to emphasize the benefits of ISO 9001, and how to yield results from each major clause of the standard.]

Overview

Clause 8.7 is called “Control of Nonconforming Outputs,” but you’d be forgiven if you referred to it under its more common name, “Control of Nonconforming Product.” The word “outputs” was used in some places throughout ISO 9001:2015 so that both products and services could be addressed.

This clause follows after the inspection and testing clause, and assumes you’ve found something wrong that needs fixing; perhaps a product failed an inspection, or a service wasn’t delivered as expected. Unfortunately, this is another clause that was much more clearly written under prior editions of ISO 9001, and now appears as a jumbled mess. The core requirement is that you are not supposed to ignore nonconformities, but instead prevent them from being delivered, and then carefully investigate what went wrong, so you can correct it. Whether that means repairing a product, throwing it out, or re-delivering a service, is up to you.

Benefits

When implemented properly, Clause 8.7 should result in the following tangible benefits for your company:

  1. You will never deliver a nonconforming product or service to your customer. OK, that’s the dream, anyway, but careful implementation of this clause will dramatically reduce the likelihood.
  2. If you do encounter a nonconformity, you’re more likely to do it in-house, vs. it being found by the customer, which is embarrassing.
  3. Once you encounter a nonconformity, you’ll have a dedicated method to process it, including a defined method to investigate and resolve it. This reduces variability in how you respond to different nonconformities.
  4. You’ll have records of nonconformities which you can then analyze, over time, to identify trends and take long-term corrective action.

I can’t emphasize enough how important this clause is, and how poorly companies who ignore this clause eventually perform. A proper implementation here can reduce product recalls, industry humiliation, and customer dissatisfaction. Best of all, a functioning nonconformity control program will reduce nonconformities, since it reduces the likelihood of the problem recurring.

Click here for the full series of articles on The Benefits of ISO 9001:2015.

About Christopher Paris

Christopher Paris is the founder and VP Operations of Oxebridge. He has over 30 years' experience implementing ISO 9001 and AS9100 systems, and is a vocal advocate for the development and use of standards from the point of view of actual users. He is the author of Surviving ISO 9001 and Surviving AS9100. He reviews wines for the irreverent wine blog, Winepisser.

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