ISO 9001:2015 clause 7.2 (“Competence”) is a short one, but frequently misunderstood. In it, ISO is asking you to identify the minimum competency requirements for your staff, so that you can then train anyone who might not meet those requirements. A bad habit companies have fallen into, however, is using “Job Descriptions” to satisfy this requirement — and it doesn’t work.

Job Descriptions typically define what an employee has to do once they have the job, not what they need in order to get the job in the first place. Auditors then fail to pick this up, allowing this defect to remain unchallenged.

The alternative is that companies add the pre-hire requirements for competency to the Job Descriptions, which works but comes at the cost of efficiency. If you have 100 positions in your company, you have to update and then manage 100 Job Descriptions. This eventually leads to nonconformities when needs change, new people are hired based on new criteria, and the Job Descriptions weren’t updated.

The easiest “hack” is to create a dead-simple spreadsheet or simple document table with five columns; we call this a “Position Requirements Matrix.” Based on ISO 9001’s demand that the competence requirements include”appropriate education, training, or experience,” the table merely defines your requirements for each of these, for each of the positions in your company.

Here’s what that looks like (I’ve added an optional sixth column for random “notes”):

You then populate this by first listing every position in the company in the first column, and then indicating what required education, prior experience, training, and certifications might be needed for each position.

Keep in mind, you’re not required to define each of these criteria for each position; in many cases, you may not have any special training or prior experience, especially if you’re hiring entry-level folks. If so, just put “none” in the field and move on.

A populated form might look like this:

Obviously, you can add more detail in any cell you like, or indicate special notes. This is just a quickie sample.

Now to update this you need only edit a single file, and not sift through dozens of Job Descriptions to make changes. Next, when hiring a new person, you can find all the requirements in one easy-to-read place. And, of course, this makes auditing conformity this portion of clause 7.2 much easier.

Then, as you hire or promote people, you can provide training or other actions when someone doesn’t meet a given requirement. You’ll still need records of any training or waivers provided, but a Position Requirements Matrix saves tremendous time.

For an editable copy of this form, check the set of template forms in the ISO 9001 template kit here.

 

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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