The revised ISO Standards for Quality (ISO 9001) and Environmental (ISO 14001) – Stronger alignment to project and programme management processes

04 Feb 2016

Executive Summary

With the September 2015 release of the new revised ISO standards for Quality and Environmental Management Systems, we find a strong correlation to the main project and programme management methodologies like PRINCE2®, Agile and Managing Successful Programmes (MSP®). Where organisations are complying or wishing to comply with both ISO and process methodologies, change and business process managers can take this opportunity to integrate or dovetail between some or all of these processes.

Changes to the ISO standards

Both ISO 9001 and 14001 will both change. From an overall perspective, alignment between the two will be strong including terminology and clause numbering. Additionally AS 4801 (ISO 18001) Health & Safety is scheduled to be replaced by ISO 45001 in 2016, with the same objectives with respect to clause alignment and shared terminology. The great news is that this will allow organisations to integrate their management systems. For both auditing companies and complying organisations, it will be easier combine audits and reduce annual audit costs for such.

The high levels changes for ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 are as follows:

  • An emphasis on a risk based management approach
  • Achieving value for organisations
  • A decreased emphasis on “documented” information
  • An expanded concept of what documentation is (e.g. Online induction training, registers, instructional and business communication videos, registers on company intranet pages, Wiki’s etc.)
  • Identification and communication with interested parties (i.e. stakeholders)
  • The organisational context in general – including the requirement for leadership to support use of defined management systems
  • A focus on defining, measuring and achieving organisational objectives (i.e. the direct line of sight to strategy)
  • A reduced number of mandatory documents (e.g. the presence of a quality manual).

The authors have also addressed one important gap in response to perceived “lip service” of management to business systems and their effectiveness. Top management are required to demonstrate leadership by supporting the use of management systems that enable strategic objectives to be achieved, including the provision of resources. It is also now possible for an organisation to be found “non-conforming” if it fails to meet its set objectives. Now you might say that to pass an audit, an organisation would simply “set the objective bar lower” to play it safe. However it is obvious that if an organisation acted in this way it would be counterproductive to its own organisational success.  

How this relates to project and programme management methodologies

From the major changes listed above we can see that a risk based approach is now required, and of course the subject methodologies all have requirements for such. The standards also allow organisations set their own levels of documentation and this lines up well with Agile values like working software over comprehensive documentation and the pragmatic allowance for tailoring in PRINCE2.  Measurement of objectives in ISO aligns well with the measurement of outcomes and benefits in project and programme management respectively. Project and programme methodologies all have some level of quality control and assurance requirements, including a process approach for management systems. The requirement to be improving in ISO correlates with learning from experience and using lessons learned.

A quick cross reference from the new ISO standards to project and programme management methodologies is shown in Figure 1.

What does this mean for your organisation?

Business, Process and Change Managers should take the opportunity to integrate and simplify their business systems for efficiency of use, including a lower shared resource load to manage them

If you want to integrate an ISO standard and you are running PRINCE2, Agile or MSP then it’s likely that you have many over the requirements covered already. Conversely, if you are already ISO compliant then dovetailing a project or programme management methodology will be easier.

How can DDLS Help?

DDLS run certified courses for all the main project management methodologies like Agile, PRINCE2 and PMBOK, as well as MSP. Our consultants can also advise and assist you on implementation for these systems and we have access to resources who are experts in ISO standards and implementation.

About the author

Tom Sulda BEng (Hons), FIEAust, Grad Cert Mgt, Dip PM is a contract trainer for DDLS in project and programme management including business analysis. Tom is also a certified auditor for ISO 9001, 14001, AS4801/ISO 18001.

ISO Clause

ISO 9001/14001 :2015

Relates to

Process Methodology Cross References



Managing Successful Programmes (MSP)


Understanding the organisation and its context (e.g. strategic outcomes)

Relates to intended outcomes

P2 Principle- Continued business justification via the business case

Measurement of outcomes from outputs

Focus is on direction and delivery of strategy through programmes including benefit realisation


Understanding the needs and expectations of interested parties

Stakeholders (internal and external)

Communication management strategy - Stakeholder profiles

Stakeholder communications

One of the 9 governance themes - Leadership and Stakeholder Management. Stakeholder Engagement Strategy - Stakeholder Profiles


Management System

Establishing a process approach and continual improvement

The processes as defined in P2

Principle 4 - Never compromise quality.  Minimum User Subset (MUST) The Agile process methodology itself. Developing iteratively and reviewing (learning) regularly.

The processes as defined in MSP. Quality management Strategy



Top Management must demonstrate leadership and commitment with respect to customer focus

P2 Principle- Defined roles and responsibilities. The project board roles, Executive, Senior User and Supplier

Roles and responsibilities - Business Sponsor and Visionary

The leadership team of the programme is the programme board. Senior Responsible Owner (SRO), Programme Manager, Business Change Manager


Actions to address risks and opportunities

Risks and opportunities associated with achieving intended outcomes

The risk theme and risk management procedure that includes identification of opportunities

Embedded in one of the  7 control parameters (Risk)

Embedded in one of the 9 Governance Themes -  Risk and Issue Management includes the Risk Management Strategy



Determine and provide resources needed for management systems

Embedded in the Quality Management Strategy and Project Assurance Roles

Embedded in one of the  7 control parameters (Resources)

Embedded in one of the 9 Governance Themes -  Quality and Assurance  Management includes the Risk Management Strategy


Operational planning and control

Especially control of external suppliers (outsourcing) and goods (e.g. hardware)

Embedded in the Managing Product Delivery - Team manager is responsible to control external suppliers

Not specifically covered in Agile

Within the Programme Plan - use of external services


Performance Evaluation

Monitoring, measurement, analysis, evaluation, internal audit, management review

Embedded in the progress theme. Monitoring and control

Measurement as it relates directly to delivering projects. End of project assessments

Assurance Management Techniques including, Audit
Effectiveness of measurements, Assurance reviews, P3M3 maturity, assessments, Gated reviews



Non conformity, corrective action and Improvement

Use of lessons learnt from previous projects before starting. Updating the lessons log along the way and in closing the project process

For improvement - End of project assessments

One of the 7 Programme Management Principles - Learning from Experience. Lesson learned reports in closing a programme process.

Figure 1: Cross References - ISO to Project & Programme Management Methodologies