The IAF has released an official, and mandatory, notice that all ISO 9001 audits must be conducted against the ISO 9001:2015 version starting March 15, 2018. This includes any surveillance audits for clients who have not yet transitioned their quality systems to the new standard. You can read the entire announcement here.

The announcement effectively hardens an already implausible stance by the IAF and ISO to dictate an arbitrary deadline of Sept. 15, 2018, for all companies to transition to the new standard. Oxebridge has argued that the deadline is entirely self-created, designed to enforce the sale of ISO standards and eliminate the possibility of companies continuing to use their previously-purchased editions of ISO 9001:2008. ISO and the IAF argue that the deadline is necessary because ISO 9001 certifications can only be issued to the latest version, although neither organization has ever addressed the question of why that is so. There appears to be no valid reason why companies cannot certify to earlier editions of the standard if their customers were willing to agree to this; ISO 9001 began as a complimentary replacement for customer quality system flowdowns and now, Oxebridge argues, ISO and IAF are contradicting those flowdowns.

The IAF mandate marks one of the first public orders issued by IAF’s new Chinese chairman, Xiao Jianhua, by publishing an official document that simultaneously includes a veiled threat and which relies on grossly misleading statements regarding ISO 9001:

Note that failure to achieve certification to the 2015 standard by the deadline means that your certification is no longer valid and this may affect your ability to supply to all markets.

The statement is presented without any supporting facts, and appears to outright contradict actual supply chain requirements. ISO and IAF have survived on the false claims that ISO 9001 is a “requirement” to supply some markets, even as interest in ISO 9001 dwindles, and even as they insist ISO 9001 is a “voluntary” standard in order to comply with WTO rules. In reality, however, many industries are withdrawing requirements for ISO 9001 certification among their suppliers, and many have indicated that ISO’s lack of stakeholder involvement in the development of ISO 9001 was the reason, as well as the growing number of high-profile product scandals involving ISO 9001 certified companies such as Takata, BP Oil, Kobe Steel and others. In the United States, it is estimated that the top driver of ISO 9001 certification is mandates from legacy federal government contracts, and that private industry mandates have fallen to less than half of where they were in 2005.

Xiao’s statement also includes the dubious claim that ISO 9001 was updated as a “logical progression from previous versions, delivering standards which address the key issues for both today and the future.” Oxebridge has shown that nothing in the new ISO 9001:2015 standard addresses modern concepts, and instead the standard continues to rely on paper-based documentation systems, and hardware widget-making. The awkward insertion of the words “media” and “software version” in the document control clauses do not, Oxebridge asserts, address contemporary content management systems, cloud collaboration tools, wikis, or online learning management systems.

ISO and IAF have refused to allow any extension of the deadline, as they previously refused to extend the development time of ISO 9001:2015 to allow increased stakeholder involvement. For users, this means any audits scheduled after March 15, 2018, must be conducted to the new edition of the standard, even if the company is undergoing a routine ISO 9001:2008 surveillance audit.