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ANSI Seeks Feedback: ISO Survey on Services Standards and Management System Standards


Deadline is Friday, June 30

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) seeks stakeholder feedback to gather information for an International Organization for Standardization (ISO) survey, focused on service standards and management system standards. As the U.S. member to ISO, ANSI requests information from U.S. stakeholders for consideration on behalf of ANSI's response to the ISO survey. Please fill out the ANSI survey via this link by the deadline on Friday, June 30.

The responses will be considered for a survey that highlights ISO's strategy for service standardization, which was adopted in February 2016 to accomplish multifaceted results:

  • Increase ISO's visibility as a developer of International Standards for services;

  • Support ISO members during challenges associated with the development of standards for services, and;

  • Gain a better understanding of market interests and trends in the services sector.

ISO's Technical Management Board (ISO/TMB) is launching the survey to gather widespread feedback from ISO members to support ISO/TMB's decision making on two specific issues. The first is related to the ISO strategy's exclusion principleseen by some as a challenge faced by both developers and users of service standardsand, the second, of potential reference to selective ISO 9001 requirements in ISO service standards. ISO 9001 is the international standard that specifies requirements for a quality management system (QMS).

In reference to the exclusion principle: Since its 2001 edition, the ISO/IEC Directives Part 2, which sets out the rules for the structure and drafting of ISO and IEC standards, contains what is known as "the exclusion principle." Contained in Clause 33.1 of the Directives Part 2 (2016 edition), it states:

"No document containing requirements for products, processes, services, persons, systems and bodies shall make conformity dependent on a quality management systems standard, i.e., it shall not, for example, make normative reference to ISO 9001."

Annex SL of the ISO Supplement further elaborates to state that this principle applies to all management system standards.

Exclusions - An MSS should not include directly related product (including services) specifications, test methods, performance levels (i.e., setting of limits) or other forms of standardization for products produced by the implementing organization.

In the case of service standards, this principle prohibits ISO and IEC standards from containing both requirements for the provision of the service, together with requirements for a management system. It also means that the service standard cannot itself require an organization to implement a management system as a prerequisite for conformance.

In reference to "Quality Management System" (QMS): Since its 2001 edition, the ISO/IEC Directives Part 2 also contains a section on "quality management system," contained in Clause 34.2 of the Directives Part 2 (2016 edition), and reads:

"When an ISO or IEC committee wishes to develop quality management system requirements or guidance for a particular product or industry/economic sector it shall respect the following rules.

a) Normative reference shall be made to ISO 9001 in its entirety or, subject to the "applicability" provisions detailed in the scope of ISO 9001, to its clauses or subclauses. Alternatively, subject to the "applicability" provisions detailed in the scope of ISO 9001, the clauses or subclauses may be reproduced verbatim.

In the case of service standards, this principle prohibits ISO and IEC standards from including quality management system requirements consisting of only a sample of chosen clauses of ISO 9001 or any other QMS standard.

At the ISO workshop on June 13-14, 2016, entitled "Global services, ISO Standards as Solutions," participants debated whether the exclusion principle ultimately encouraged or discouraged implementation of service standards, and whether service sector stakeholders would like to be able to have the possibility of a "light" QMS. Opinion amongst those present was polarized.

A number of existing ISO committees that develop service standards (standards that provide requirements for the level of service that is to be delivered) have considered or sought to develop standards that are not in compliance with the ISO exclusion principle or that seek to include "light" QMS requirements in the service standards themselves. To date, decisions of the ISO/TMB have not supported such efforts.

The argument for maintaining the status-quo: The exclusion principle was introduced so that the demonstration of conformance of a product or service with a product/service standard could not be made dependent on the conformance of its producer's management system with ISO 9001, or by extension with any management system standard.

In addition, the exclusion principle prevents confusion regarding conformity assessment of the service, especially with regard to certification and whether certification is based on the service aspects of the ISO standard or the management system aspects. Maintaining the status-quo would also avoid service standards making other management system requirements compulsory.

While earlier versions of ISO 9001 may have been perceived as "too difficult" to apply to SMEs or service organizations, the latest version of ISO 9001 (2015) has been specifically developed to be less prescriptive on documentation, and more user-friendly for these kinds of organizations. Having regular and "lighter" versions of ISO QMS standards could confuse the marketplace/general public, and it would not be possible to ensure that the "lighter" version was only applied by SMEs.

The argument for change: Stakeholders who argue for change make the point that allowing management system and service requirements to exist in the same standard creates a product that is more attractive and easier to implement for the user of the standard. It is also argued that in the services sector, where many service providers are SMEs, the implementation of the full requirements of ISO 9001 and/or other management system standards is perceived as too complicated and expensive.

Please submit feedback for consideration in ANSI's response to the ISO survey via the survey link.


Jana Zabinski

Senior Director, Communications & Public Relations


[email protected]

Beth Goodbaum

Journalist/Communications Specialist


[email protected]