The Next ISO 9001 Revision

9 April 2023

The ISO 9001 standard is periodically reviewed and revised in order to keep it relevant and useful. The typical update cycle of 6-8 years had us expect a new version by 2023. However, ISO surprised us twice: first in mid 2021 when ISO announced to skip the scheduled revision, and then in July 2023 when ISO changed course and announced that it would immediately commence the revision of ISO 9001:2015.

ISO 9001 will be revised

ISO 9001:2015 Will Be Revised

ISO's surprise announcement on 29 July 2023 to immediately begin the revision process of ISO 9001:2015 left most industry experts baffled. After its mid 2021 decision to keep ISO 9001:2015 unchanged, observers had expected that the revision decision wouldn't be revisited prior to 2026 with an ISO 9001:2030 revision generally expected. So, what happened?

Initially, and for the first time, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) decided to keep its most famous management standard – ISO 9001 – unchanged during its scheduled review in 2021.

The decision was made based on a user survey that ISO's technical subcommittee in charge of ISO 9001 conducted in 2020. Following the users' vote, an internal review, and a ballot among its members, the subcommittee approved the confirmation of ISO 9001:2015 without revision on 1 May 2021.

However, the 2021 ballot was taken by a narrow margin, opinions remained divided, and proponents of a revision continued to make their case. Eventually another task force, the Technical Group 5, was created to study the need for an early revision of ISO 9001. Following the group's report in spring 2023, ISO's technical subcommittee TC 176 / SC 2 organized another ballot of its 81 National Standards Bodies. With 78 votes cast, a "sizable majority" voted in favor of revising the ISO 9001 standard without delay.

The Next Revision:  ISO 9001:2026

The decision to revise ISO 9001:2015 implies that a new working group for the revision of the standard will be established to discuss the comments and suggestions received from members of TC 176 / SC 2. Given the disagreements among the members, the time for the development and approval process of the standard is expected to last about three years. This means that the next edition of ISO 9001 will likely be published in 2026.

ISO 9001 Revisions

ISO's technical committee ISO / TC 176 / SC 2 is responsible for the periodic review and revision of ISO 9001. The goal is to maintain or improve the standard's usability and relevance in the face of advances in technology, changes in the global business environment, and trends in society. Since its initial publication in 1987, there have been 4 revisions. The most current version – ISO 9001:2015 – was published in 2015.

ISO 9001:1987: the first edition of the ISO 9001 standard was derived from a military quality standard and focused on manufacturing. In fact, there were three variations for different scope of business activities: ISO 9001 for companies that were engaged in design, production and servicing; ISO 9002 for companies in production and servicing; and ISO 9003 for final inspection only. Without distinguishing between them, they were commonly refer to as "ISO 9000".

ISO 9001:1994: the first revision added the concept of preventive action rather than just checking conformance of the final product. Like the first edition, the 1994 revision required evidence of compliance with documented procedures, often resulting in much unnecessary documentation and bureaucracy.

ISO 9001:2000: the 2000 version combined ISO 9001, ISO 9002 and ISO 9003 into a single, universally applicable standard that allowed for exclusions of requirements that don't apply to the organization. The 2000 edition introduced numerous radical changes in addition to a new structure. For example, it introduced the concept of processes and systems, and the management of integrated processes. Other notable changes were the required participation of senior management in the new quality management system, the use of metrics to track performance, and the concept of continual improvement.

ISO 9001:2008: the 2008 revision merely introduced some new wording and clarifications but no new requirements. Organizations that had correctly interpreted and applied the previous version remained unaffected.

ISO 9001:2015: the latest version of the standard introduced the new high-level structure (Annex SL) and featured several new and modified requirements, most notably the concept of risk-based thinking.

Based on the history of previous revisions, we can confidently expect that the next update will be published in the year 2026, followed by a three-year transition period during which both versions will remain in effect.

What to Expect from ISO 9001:2026

The purpose of the survey taken in 2021 was not only to identify users' view on the current version of the standard but also to gather ideas as to what should change. The input of users and industry associations, as well as the discussions with other influential quality professionals has lead us to expect the following changes in ISO 9001:2026:

Integration of emerging technologies, including the rapid increase in digitization and the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in automated decision marking

Inclusion of ethics and integrity and alignment with company decisions, actions and interactions with stakeholders

Expansion of the concept of customer satisfaction to become the entire customer experience

Renewed focus on quality assurance (this could also lead to increased customer pressure to get ISO 9001 certified, a development that ISO would certainly appreciate)

Clarifications for service providers and strengthening service requirements (some even suggest a separate standard for services)

Further clarifications that the QMS is an integral part of the business processes

After maintaining the status-quo of ISO 9001 for 11 years, it is possible that the 2026 revision will contain important changes. On the other hand, the mandated high-level structure limits the possible innovation.


Assuming the next ISO 9001 revision in 2026 and the usual 3-year transition period, you won't need to update your quality management system until 2029. ISO 9001 integrates continual improvement so your QMS won't lose its relevance and usefulness. So, why not implement ISO 9001 right now and start reaping its numerous benefits? And keep in mind, our products including the ISO 9001 Certification Toolkit come with free upgrades for 5 years.

We have everything you need to achieve ISO 9001 – without stress but with excellent results.

Naomi Sato

Naomi Sato

Consultant and Product Manager

Naomi holds dual responsibility as an ISO 9001 consultant and product manager, and is an enthusiastic contributor to our online and print resources.

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