Exploring ISO 9001:2015 Clause 10 on Improvement

8 January 2024

The ISO 9001:2015 standard provides organizations with a comprehensive framework for implementing a quality management system. Within this standard, Clause 10 addresses the crucial aspect of improvement. In this article, we will provide you with a clear and concise overview of Clause 10, highlighting its requirements and practical implications for organizations seeking to enhance their performance.

Identifying Opportunities for Improvement

Clause 10 of ISO 9001:2015 emphasizes the proactive identification and pursuit of improvement opportunities within an organization. It urges companies to go beyond mere compliance and actively seek out areas where they can enhance their products, services, and processes to align with current and future market needs.

Fortunately, organizations implementing ISO 9001:2015 need not establish a separate process to address this requirement, as numerous other sections throughout the standard foster continual improvement. By leveraging your existing ISO 9001 processes, staying informed about emerging trends, and encouraging employees to contribute ideas, you can create a culture that values innovation and drives continuous improvement.

Corrective Action: React, Correct, and Prevent Nonconformities

Within Clause 10, corrective action plays a significant role. When a nonconformity arises, such as a product defect or failure to meet a requirement, it is crucial for organizations to respond swiftly and effectively. This response involves taking immediate actions to mitigate the impact of the nonconformity and minimize any negative consequences.

However, addressing the immediate concern is only the first step. The true essence of improvement lies in understanding and rectifying the root causes of nonconformities. This is where corrective action comes into play. By conducting a thorough root cause analysis, organizations can implement targeted and sustainable solutions to eliminate the underlying causes and prevent similar nonconformities from recurring in the future.

Importantly, you need not wait for a nonconformity to occur before engaging in corrective action. Clause 10 encourages proactive approaches, such as analyzing data, monitoring trends, and identifying patterns that could lead to future nonconformities or performance gaps. By taking preventive action based on this analysis, organizations can enhance their processes, procedures, and systems to avoid issues altogether. This intersection between corrective action and risk-based thinking (Clause 6) offers a proactive approach to ensuring continual improvement.

Continual Improvement: Planning, Managing, and Monitoring Processes

Clause 10 emphasizes the importance of planning, managing, and monitoring processes to drive continual improvement. Unlike continuous improvement, which demands a constant stream of improvements, continual improvement acknowledges that there can be temporary phases in which improvements are not immediately apparent. It represents a driving force that enables organizations to achieve higher levels of excellence in their operations, products, services, and customer satisfaction.

To embed continual improvement within your organization's DNA, it is crucial to establish clear objectives aligned with strategic goals. Internal audits, data analysis, corrective and preventive actions, and management reviews serve as valuable tools to identify improvement opportunities. Regularly reassess and adjust your improvement efforts based on performance data and customer feedback to ensure ongoing success.


Clause 10 of ISO 9001:2015 serves as an essential guide for organizations striving for excellence in their quality management systems. By understanding the need for proactive identification of improvement opportunities, effectively addressing nonconformities through reactive and corrective action, embracing preventive measures, and fostering a culture of continual improvement, organizations can steer their course towards sustainable success.

For a comprehensive overview of all the requirements and how they interconnect, we invite you to explore our article on ISO 9001:2015 Requirements. Alternatively, you may want to consider our comprehensive ISO 9001:2015 Foundation Training online course, which deepens your understanding and enhances your skills related to quality management systems.

Simon Keller

Simon Keller

Training Manager, Instructor and Lead Author

Simon is the lead author of our ISO 9001 courses, templates and instructions, and is a passionate contributor to our articles and learning resources.

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