10 Steps to Safeguard Maritime Property from Cybersecurity Threats

IJ Arora, Ph.D

Cybersecurity threats have become a pressing concern in the modern era due to our lives becoming increasingly dependent on computerization. However, with the convenience of technology comes vulnerability to malicious attacks. The maritime industry, with a growing reliance on technology, faces significant cybersecurity threats. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (i.e., good and bad) exist and have always existed. Protecting against cyberattacks is crucial to ensuring the industry’s stability and security.

Understanding cybersecurity in the maritime industry

Cybersecurity in the maritime sector involves safeguarding systems, information, and assets from unauthorized access, disruptions, or manipulations. The industry’s growing reliance on technology, including networks controlling essential functions like navigation and communication, makes it an attractive target for cybercriminals. To maintain business continuity, it is crucial that companies assess their current cybersecurity posture and act to proactively improve it. The maritime industry supports trade and the economy at large, so a cyberattack can have broader consequences beyond just affecting a single vessel or company. For this reason, the intent of the attackers might be broader than simply affecting a specific entity for ransom.

Current challenges in maritime cybersecurity

Before delving into the 10 essential steps to fortify against cyberthreats, it’s crucial to acknowledge the prevalent challenges faced by the maritime industry, which include:

  • Business continuity disruption due to breaches
  • Lack of comprehensive response plans
  • Growing reliance on automation
  • Insufficient awareness
  • Vulnerabilities in cloud computing
  • Rise in phishing and social engineering attacks
  • Internal threats and attacks

Controlling both information technology and operational technology systems is critical to fortifying cybersecurity. Various systems within the small passenger-vessel sector are susceptible to cyberthreats, including bridge systems, access control systems, passenger servicing and management systems, and communication systems.

The 10 steps

When addressing cybersecurity, organizations must consider protecting information itself as well as the asset on which that information is stored. Control of both information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) systems is critical to fortifying cybersecurity. Additionally, management must consider the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information and how these three aspects may potentially be compromised.

Step 1: Leadership commitment

Leaders must drive the need for cybersecurity and ensure that it is baked in (not buttoned on) to processes. They need to engage the workforce to contribute to the system. To do this, they can:

  • Appoint a cybersecurity manager to ensure accountability and garner buy-in.
  • Make cybersecurity integral to business processes and consider risks vs. rewards.

Step 2: Use a system framework

Employ the plan, do, check, act (PDCA) cycle as the foundation for a robust cybersecurity approach. This is also the approach prescribed by the Passenger Vessel Association (PVA) safety management system (SMS) framework.

  • Develop and regularly update cybersecurity policies aligning with organizational needs and threat landscape changes.
  • Identify clear roles and responsibilities for all concerned with cybersecurity aspects of the SMS.

Step 3: Contextualize risk

  • Consider the broader context of operations, trade patterns, technology, and legislative factors.
  • Identify stakeholders, online networks, assets, critical components, and business-sensitive information.

Step 4: Risk assessment (3D framework)

Leaving hazards in uncertain states is a drawback for proper risk assessment. It is the responsibility of leadership to convert uncertainty into clearly defined risks within the context of the organization and then prioritize those risks.

  • Organizations must assess hazards in terms of probability, severity, and the likelihood of detection.
  • Risks should be prioritized with consideration given toward confidentiality, integrity, and the availability of information.

Step 5: Build controls into processes

Controls can be split into various categories, including administrative, physical, human, and technological. In some cases one control may suffice, but for the most part a combination of controls must be applied. Identified controls should be implemented based on the feasibility rule, meaning that although they may look good in a vacuum, ease of implementation must be considered. Information security should be a part of everything the organization does—not an add-on. This includes:

  • Implementing technical security controls like firewalls and intrusion-detection systems.
  • Adopting a layered security approach (i.e., “defense in depth”) to effectively mitigate against various threats. This entails creating multiple barriers to prevent access to information—physical, passwords, firewalls, VPNs etc.

Step 6: Maintain basic measures

Basic safety measures are easy to implement and, for the most part, they are cost-effective. This can include cybersecurity awareness training for personnel, physical security, and password security. Below are a few more, although this is not an exhaustive list:

  • Keep hardware and software updated.
  • Enable automated antivirus and anti-malware updates.
  • Limit administrator privileges and control removable media.
  • Avoid public network connections without a VPN.
  • Regularly backup and test information-restoration capabilities.

Step 7: Employee awareness

It is important to make employees aware of the need for good cybersecurity protocols. Employees are often the weakest link in the security chain. Statistics show that almost 36 percent of data breaches are caused by employee negligence. Immediate actions organization can take include:

  • Educate employees on cybersecurity best practices to minimize human error.
  • Train personnel to identify phishing attacks and report incidents promptly.

Step 8: Emergency preparedness

No organization is immune to cyberattacks. It is important to have a plan in place for responding to attacks quickly and effectively. The plan should include steps for mitigating the damage, containing the attack, and investigating the incident. You can use ISO 22301: 2019, “Business continuity,” to develop this plan.

  • Your plan should include comprehensive processes for responding to cyberattacks swiftly and efficiently, including reporting mechanisms.
  • Test and improve your business continuity plan regularly.

Step 9: Assess effectiveness

The check stage of the PDCA cycle is vital to instill confidence in the effectiveness of the organization’s cybersecurity measures.

  • Conduct regular cybersecurity assessments, including third-party evaluations for objectivity.
  • Evaluate assets, vulnerabilities, IT/OT risks, physical access, and breach potentials.

Step 10: Continual improvement

  • Embrace continual improvement through the PDCA cycle to maintain vigilance.
  • Invest in training personnel on cybersecurity standards like ISO 27001.

Conclusion

Taking cybersecurity seriously and implementing these 10 steps can significantly mitigate the risk of cyberattacks. Begin the process by conducting a gap assessment using a qualified person to assess where your system currently stands and what actions need to be taken.

Your action plan should identify risks, gaps, and the controls needed. These controls can easily be integrated into the existing safety management system. Investing in cybersecurity today will better prepare your organization to manage future risks. Leadership involvement is crucial, and these steps serve as a solid foundation to effectively fortify cybersecurity measures.

About the author

Inderjit (IJ) Arora, Ph.D., is the President and CEO of QMII. He serves as a team leader for consulting, advising, auditing, and training regarding management systems. He has conducted many courses for the United States Coast Guard and is a popular speaker at several universities and forums on management systems. Arora is a Master Mariner who holds a Ph.D., a master’s degree, an MBA, and has a 33-year record of achievement in the military, mercantile marine, and civilian industry.

Above article is featured in the following:-

Foghorn Magazine

Exemplar Global Publication “The Auditor”

Controlling Sub-Sea Infrastructure


The recent implosion of the 
Titan, a sub-sea submersible used for taking elite, high-paying tourists to see the wreck of the Titanic, brought the safety protocols of both vessels into focus. There were no statutory requirements for regulating the Titan and neither were there any when the Titanic sank in 1912! As a reactive measure, the maritime community came up with the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention soon after the sinking of the Titanic. Ironically, after the Titan submersible imploded, we have come to realize there are no requirements covering this vessel. Perhaps with time, the involved counties will react.

The question is, why was nothing done proactively? Tourists go up in hot air balloons all the time. Is there any statutory requirement that these tourist companies must meet? Is there even a requirement to have a management system in place so that these companies work systematically, appreciate the risks in the context of the organization, and plan their operations keeping risks in mind? It is true that entrepreneurs do not like regulations and consider requirements a hindrance in a free business environment. And yet the Titanic, which was declared to be “unsinkable,” did, in fact, sink! In the United States, the domestic towing vessel industry functioned without statutory requirements until recently. The industry avoided regulation, but tragedies occurred, and now the industry is regulated under the U.S. regulatory framework. A process-based management system is the best systematic structure to produce conforming products and services, ensure continual improvement, and implement the statutory requirements if available.

The intent of this article is to proactively start a discussion on the need for regulating sub-sea infrastructure to reduce its affect on the marine transportation system. The phrase “sub-sea infrastructure” refers to equipment and technology placed on or anchored to the ocean floor. This infrastructure may include, but is not limited to, cables for telecommunication, cables for power transmission, pipelines for transmission of fluids, and other stationary equipment for scientific research.

The growth of sub-sea infrastructure is a global phenomenon. As an example, is in the interest of all nations, and particularly here in United States, to promote wind farms, which are a source of renewable energy. When these wind farms are placed in selected geographical locations along the continental shelf, they need sub-sea cables. But are there any laws controlling the systematic development of the industry to enable an effective marine transportation system and its protection of maritime community interests and environmental interests? Is there a central agency responsible for this coordination to allow for a balanced approach to risks? The amount of cabling piling up needs management and oversight.

Sub-sea infrastructure, the definition of the problem

Numerous industries have a stake in sub-sea infrastructure. Examples include oil and gas, telecommunications, fishing, scientific research, and perhaps military/defense applications such as sonar and other arrays and obstacles. This infrastructure is a requirement, but it also faces various challenges including those that can lead to accidents, environmental damage, and possible breaches in national security. All these bring out very significant concerns related to sub-sea infrastructure and the lack of comprehensive and globally accepted standards, requirements, obligations, and assurance mechanisms. It is not that organizations such as the United States Coast Guard, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Environmental Protection Agency, and other federal and state agencies do not look at these issues.

Nevertheless, it remains a concern that there is no single agency or overarching requirement to provide a framework to the industry on harmonized implementation of requirements. This lack of harmonization can mean inconsistencies in design, installation, and maintenance practices which may not address risks uniformly. This can generate consequential risks, leading to increased accidents, mechanical failures, and costs to the industry and the nation.

Recent tragedies and accidents

Recent tragedies and accidents involving sub-sea infrastructure have been limited, and yet must not lead to complacency by the agencies involved. The few that have occurred indicate the challenges and trends pointing to the need for proactive requirements. The recent tragedies include:

  • Deepwater Horizon. The potential consequences and challenges inherent in deep-water oil drilling were brought out by the Deepwater Horizon tragedy in 2010. The oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico caused a massive oil spill and resulted in the loss of 11 lives. Although not technically a sub-sea incident, it highlighted a series of failures in design, maintenance, and company oversight—all factors pointing to the importance of robust safety standards and requirements, and the implementation thereof. The Deepwater Horizon incident was not directly related to sub-sea infrastructure; however, it heightened the risks associated with offshore oil and gas production and the potential for catastrophic environmental damage.
  • Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2. Occurring in September 2022, the damage to these gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea highlighted concerns around sub-sea infrastructure. These pipelines transport natural gas from Russia to Europe; in this incident, they sustained multiple leaks. The exact cause of the damage is unclear, though deliberate sabotage was suspected and is still under investigation. Regardless of the ultimate findings, this incident exposed the vulnerabilities of sub-sea infrastructure to sabotage, and the potential for significant environmental and economic consequences are real. Intentional attacks to the sub-sea infrastructure have the potential for widespread disruption of energy supplies. Apart from the Nord Stream, there have been other sub-sea incidents affecting the gas and oil industry. In 2021 a fire broke out on a sub-sea production control umbilical off the coast of Brazil, causing significant damage to the underwater equipment and resulting in a major oil spill.
  • English Channel Internet Disruption. In 2021, a ship dragging its anchor on the seabed in the English Channel cut the three main internet cables to the Channel Islands. Although this only resulted in slower broadband speeds in this instance, there remains the possibility that it could have resulted in a complete outage.

Looking ahead

These incidents represent leading indicators of a tragedy in the making should proactive action not be taken. The critical importance of safety for sub-sea infrastructure underscores the need for a more comprehensive and rigorous approach to standards and assurance. Industry stakeholders together with regulatory bodies within the United States and global organizations such as the International Maritime Organization must work together to establish a harmonized set of safety standards, implement robust assurance mechanisms, and foster a culture of safety throughout the sub-sea industry.

The increasing reliance on sub-sea infrastructure for various industries (including wind farms) necessitates a proactive approach to safety and risk management. There is definitely a need to invest in research and development to enhance the resilience and monitoring capability of sub-sea infrastructure. The various companies in the sub-sea industry are holding their proprietary information close to the vest. This is understandable. However, these organizations are in competition with totalitarian governments, in which control of business practices is the exclusive dominion of the state. It is necessary to enhance transparency and information-sharing among industry stakeholders to facilitate better risk assessment and incident prevention.

Conclusion

Promoting a culture of safety that prioritizes risk identification, risk mitigation, and continual improvement is essential. There is no common ISO standard for sub-sea management systems. Of course, ISO 9001 is interpretable and can be used as the basis for now. Environmental protection is a challenge for a developing industry, and as such, even greater urgency is needed for statutory requirements encompassing all aspects of stakeholder interests, the marine industry in general, and the protection of the environment for generations to come.

Marine transportation remains the most important way for goods to be shipped across the world, as approximately 80 percent of the world’s goods are transported by ships. Vessels need a place to anchor in normal operating conditions as also in emergencies. A crowded seabed in harbors makes this a challenge for the entire maritime industry.

Without adequate and effective regulatory oversight, it may be too late to take action once cables and other sub-sea equipment have already been laid. Further, multiple agencies regulating the same aspects of the industry can potentially lead to bureaucratic delays.  There is therefore an urgent need to create a single statutory body to regulate the sub-sea infrastructure industry, which will greatly benefit all parties invested in the maritime transportation system.

Exemplar Global Publication “The Auditor”

Looking Ahead at ISO 9001

ISO 9001 has proactively kept up with various industry expectations, over the years, to allow

application by a broad spectrum of industry including the defense forces. The 2015 revision was

a thoughtfully planned giant step. It defined risk (ISO 9001 Clause 6.1) in the context of the

organization (ISO 9001 Clause 4.1 & 4.2) and removed exclusions provision from certification by

redefining what an organization does not do or outsources in the scope (ISO 9001 Clause 4.3). It

also removed preventive action, a reactive concept, and introduced proactive risk appreciation

(Clause 6.1 of ISO 9001 & Clause 8.1 in industry specific standards as AS9100).

This took preventive action from the delayed “Act” stage of the PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act) stage

to the more logical sensible “Plan” stage. After all, “look before you leap”, as the historical

fundamental, could not be left as a preventive action decision. It had to be at the look – plan

stage! Risk also needed not just mitigation, but also acted as an input, to be used to bring in

innovation in terms of OFI (opportunity for improvement).

These were all positive steps in keeping with technical advancements and computerization and

AI (artificial intelligence) tools. The HLS (high level structure), later updated to HS (harmonized

structure), recognized the need to enable ease of implementation of integrated management

systems. This in turn leading to efficiency, ROI (return on investment) and where applicable

environmental protection, security of the global supply chain, business continuity, cyber

security and health and safety.

The differentiating of knowledge (ISO 9001 Clause 7.6) from competence (ISO 9001 Clause 7.2)

was also a clever needed change. Organizations needed to define their corporate knowledge

aspects and differentiate it from the individual knowledge of personnel. Knowledge and

competence needed merging and a healthy marriage but needed recognition that they were

different. Removal of the reference to Quality Manager (QM) and Quality Manual from the

standard, took away the narrowness of thinking in quality, and brought the clarity to leadership

to remain accountable and to differentiate authority delegation from retaining the

accountability.

I am a member of the TAG-176 group, and yet have not really contributed much to the next

expected changes to ISO 9001. I am sure the TC-176 is working on this. Nevertheless, it is time

to debate and consider updating the standard.

Since the 2015 version was a major fundamental change, I doubt there would be a significant

departure from this 2015 version in the next major update. Unlikely that the next version may

have revolutionary updates. The emphasis, I think would be to clarify and strengthen the

present thoughts in the 2015 version. I would consider the following:

1. Two Standard Concept: I have over the years thought about the two prongs:

manufacturing and service, approach. Both the service and the manufacturing industry

have been using the standard. Some may consider the need for a separate

manufacturing and a service standard as the next step. However, over the years I have

feared too much bureaucracy which the two standards approach brings. I think the two

standard approaches may actually cause more issues than to resolve them. Might I

opine that Clauses under 8.3 for D&D can, if needed, be strengthened, clarified or more

useful notes as applicable to service version incorporated to assist implementers,

consultants and auditors?

2. Risk be better defined and OFI be clarified, to avoid auditors using it as a tool to sneak in

recommendations. OFI is the outcome of considering risk as an input for innovation. It is

not a recommendation.

3. The knowledge clause needs meat to strengthen it, and to better make it inclusive to

systematizing the requirements for organizations to systematize lessons learnt.

4. An annex added to bring clarity and ease to designing and implementing a combined

management system for an organization.

5. Clause 4.3 Scope, in defining scope requires consideration of the context of the

organization, which is based on Clauses 4.1 and 4.2. However, while the scope has to be

available as documented, 4.1 and 4.2 do not require documentation. I would suggest

both clauses 4.1 & 4.2 to have context as a documented requirement.

In conclusion, I think, updating the standard ground up is not a wise idea at this stage. Perhaps

slight tweaking to include some minor changes would give stability in implementation of an

already robust standard.

How to Alleviate Common Management System Pain Points

Implementing ISO standards is not mandatory, however a management system conforming to a standard can have numerous benefits. Some benefits include increased efficiencies, proactive risk management, better interaction among departments and alignment with the needs of interested parties. However, once you are actually in the process of implementation, you may experience the following pain points: 

  1. Lack of top management commitment 
  1. Limited resources to effectively implement the program 
  1. Lack of buy-in from the workforce  
  1. Over documented systems  
  1. Lack of measurable objectives driving improvement  
  1. Teams lack adequate interaction and alignment  
  1. Company is focused on keeping certification at all costs  

Quality Management International, Inc (QMII), having over 37 years of providing sustainable solutions for our clients, recognized how these hurdles can impact an effective management system. QMII has developed and provided solutions to address and alleviate these pain points that continue to benefit our clientele. 

A management system consulting project cannot start without top management present to map the process of what they do (core process) and to identify the core objectives for the system. Policies, objectives, and motivation must be demonstrated from the top-down and evidenced by all the team players. To further reinforce commitment, we get top managers to develop a presentation to launch the system and that will then be used for awareness training as the system progresses. This is done using our Awareness Leaders Workshop. Without authority, responsibility, and resources, middle management and individual contributors cannot improve the business management system.  

We understand that companies have financial restrictions. With a mission to get organizations to appreciate the benefits of a process-based management system, we provide multiple options to work around this challenge. 

(1) We provide free information on our website so you can carry out ISO implementation at your organization.  

(2) Attending a lead auditor training course is a relatively minimal cost. You and your team will gain a comprehensive understanding of the desired ISO standard and gain the skills necessary to implement requirements and conduct audits to determine conformity.  

(3) If you need a little more guidance, we provide scalable consulting services. Our consultants are here to assist you with exactly what you need. You will not have to pay for the full package.  

(4) Our alumni have free email and phone support, for life, to get over average hurdles.  

As far as reluctance among employees, it’s human nature to be reluctant towards change. Keeping this in mind, QMII consultants get key process owners to evidence top management’s commitment and ensure that they are involved in QMS (Quality Management System) development. We analyze with them to capture the system AS-IS and what-should-be. It is essential to get the team buy-in during this process and get their input on the process’s actualities. Teams must also interact and be aligned. We provide team-building workshops where we align objectives to the vision and processes to meet objectives. 

ISO implementation is not an overnight process, it may even seem daunting. QMII’s Action Plan Checklist is readily available, and it focuses on the big picture to simplify the process. If you need more assistance, our consultants would be happy to work with you through the checklist. We appreciate the system you already have; we are simply helping you enhance it to meet requirements and set objectives. Documentation is a significant part of ISO implementation. To remove complexities, we incorporate existing documentation and use a format that works best for you. 

At the end of the day, ISO certification is primarily a marketing decision. QMII strives to help you develop a resilient, integrated management system so that you receive actual benefits. Once set up, your system will work independently and continue to improve while managing risk proactively.  

ISO 9001:2015 – Exclusions

Exclusions to what an organization does were integral to the ISO 9001 standard prior to the 2015 version update. After all an organization cannot do all the work. Clause 7.1.1 lays the foundation on this thought by accepting that an organization must determine and provide resources. In doing so it determines the constraints and capabilities of the existing resources and what needs to be obtained from external providers. As such in previous standards, the organization, when seeking certification, requested exclusion on those processes that it did not perform.

The drawback of this was a major flaw. Over the period of time, some of these organizations, sheltered under the exclusion provision even lost the ability to pick the correct outsourced party! For example, if the organization builds highways, but outsources bridges and tunnels, then it must have the ability to be able to pick the correct vendor/ contractor who will not let the customer down. The revised 2015 version of the standard therefore in the wisdom of TC-176, removed this exclusion provision. It does not imply now the organization cannot outsource what it does not do. All that it means that the organization can review the applicability of the requirements based on its size, complexity and decide on the activities it needs to outsource.

With the exclusion provision removed, the organization would need to do due diligence in appreciating the range of its activities and the risks and opportunities it encounters as also the effect if any of the outsourced vendors not performing to accepted requirements. The organization then remains accountable for the outcome of the outsourced processes and products and services externally obtained. To ensure their consistency and levels of acceptance, it would need to take measures as required by clauses 8.4.1, 8.4.2, and 8.4.3 of the ISO 9001 in enforcing monitoring and measuring to protect its customer and clients.

This assurance that an organization can not and will not outsource those activities which by its decision will not result in failure to achieve conformity of products and services. Clause 4.3 of ISO9001 in determining the scope of the quality management system clearly requires that conformity to the ISO 9001 can only be claimed if the requirements determined as not being applicable do not have an adverse impact on the promises made by the organization. The products it provides, based on externally obtained subproducts or services must not affect customer satisfaction.

In terms of auditing, it is incumbent upon auditors that they carefully seek conformity to this requirement when auditing. Internal audits to ISO 9001 must provide the objective inputs to top management to make better decisions and appreciate the risks of outsourcing to nonperforming and or underperforming outside organizations, remembering they remain accountable and answerable for the final product or service. Ensuring the organization’s accountability for the conforming products and services whether outsourced or not is the responsibility of the organization.

QMII’s ISO 9001 EG (Exemplar Global) certified lead auditor training designed carefully to meet the objectives as envisaged in the standard.

ISO 9001 certification decline – Does quality still matter?

ISO 9001 certification have seen a decline in the past two years per data from ISO. Some say that the standard has gotten too complicated with the introduction of organizational context, risk-based thinking and the removal of mandatory documented procedures. Even a few of QMII’s clients had considered letting their certification lapse as conformity to the new standard was perceived as too complex.

To certify or not

Let us begin by looking at the purpose of ISO 9001. ISO 9001 provides a framework for organizations looking to put in place a system that will enable them to consistently deliver products/services to customers that meet their requirements and enhance customer satisfaction. ISO 9001 certification is external validation that the system meets the requirements of ISO 9001. However, ISO 9001 allows organizations to use the standard and self-declare conformity without incurring the cost of certification. Many argue that there is no value in doing this. This is probably correct if you are implementing a system to meet a contractual or customer requirement. In these cases, certification is a requirement.

Waning trust in the system

Organizations that implement ISO 9001 for the benefits it will deliver in improved productivity, reduction in process waste and management of risks have seen the bottom line improve with time [1]. If implementing the standard enables consistent quality, why then the reluctance? Perhaps the trust in the ISO 9001 certification process has declined over time. Often have we heard from quality managers of the challenges faced when they raise non-conformities in internal audits. These are often viewed as “finger pointing” exercises since the certification body has already audited and “cleared” (certified) the system.

We have also heard from clients of certification bodies and auditors wanting to view documented evidence of organizational context, stakeholder needs and risks. The standard however does not require these to be documented and leaves it up to the organization to determine the risk of not doing so. Some auditors, however, struggle with auditing undocumented systems and auditing to the new standard [2]. As a result, organizations start documenting their system for the auditors and certification bodies resulting in a system tailored for auditors and  forced down on the organization by auditors. The auditors were to provide inputs to TM (top management) to make better decisions, instead now the auditors and audits have become the product. The system must be designed for the employees not for the auditors. The intent of the standard to act as a preventive tool gets lost in this compliance process.

Supplier audits

Over the past two decades there have been several mergers and acquisitions leading to larger multi-site organizations and perhaps as a result a reduction in certifications. As these organizations have grown, and maybe in part owing to the declining trust in the certification system, they have decided to conduct their own supplier audits. As such suppliers have chosen to let their certification lapse since they are nevertheless being audited by the customer and that is the audit that really counts for them.

Supplier audits are more focused on the customer contractual requirements. Organizations who perceive ISO 9001 as a documentation burden will then only document the parts of the system to meet contractual requirements rather than document the system to meet the organization’s requirements based on ISO 9001. They fail to see that ISO 9001 leaves the extent of system documentation up to the organization and often perceive it as everything needs to be documented.

Conclusion

While quality does matter and customers are still looking to receive a quality product, oft incorrect interpretation of the standard leads many to choose against ISO 9001 certification. At times other certification requirements like CE marking may be more desired and certification to two standards be burdensome. Also methodologies like Six Sigma and Lean have gained prominence. So, ISO 9001 certification gets the boot.

Those looking to gain the benefits of a quality management system need not re-invent the wheel. ISO 9001 provides the framework that essentially reflects business 101. If you do not need ISO 9001 certification then you can self-declare and let the doubters come and assess for themselves. In the meantime, you will still gain from a well implemented management system. Remember, you already have a system that has brought you thus far, align ISO 9001 to your system and not your system to ISO 9001.

[1] Guasch, Luis J.; Racine, Jean-Louis; Sanchez, Isabel; Diop, Makhtar. 2007. Quality systems and standards for a competitive edge (English)

[2]Quality Progress October 2017, Article: The results are in…