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Why Take An Interest In Your Interested Parties?

One of the new concepts introduced by the latest revision of ISO 9000 is the concept of Interested Parties. The new standard has a requirement for organizations to determine the interested parties that are relevant to their quality management system and the requirement to understand the needs and expectations of these parties (4.2).

Who are the Interested Parties?

Who are these parties that we didn’t talk about so much before? According to Cambridge English Dictionary, they are any of the people or organizations who may be affected by a situation, or who are hoping to make money out of a situation: “Employees, suppliers, customers, and other interested parties are anxiously awaiting news about the takeover bid”, an example of the term usage in a sentence used by the dictionary, happens to refer to the main stakeholders critical to the quality management system.

In the ISO world, interested party is a “person or organization that can affect, be affected by, or perceive itself to be affected by a decision or activity”. All three families of standards: ISO 9000, ISO 14000 and now ISO 45000 place emphasis on interested parties and determining their needs and expectations. While ISO 14000 and ISO 45000 invite you to analyze them from the environmental or health & safety viewpoints correspondingly, here in this article we will mainly focus on those interested parties that are relevant to the quality management systems.

How are they relevant?

The relevance of interested parties is determined by the significance of the risk posed to organizational sustainability if their needs and expectations are not met. In some instances the relevance is more obvious such as in the case with customers who rely on us for the right quality product at the right price delivered at the right time. Or the employees who depend on the organization to provide them with competitive compensation packages, positive and safe work environment. In other cases, the relevance is more subtle but nevertheless may be there such as in case with the organization’s competitors expecting ethical business practices.

Other examples of the relevant interested parties include but are not limited to:

  • End users of our product even if we don’t have any direct dealings with them,
  • External providers,
  • Parent and sister companies,
  • Financial institutions,
  • Certification bodies.

Knowing who the relevant interested parties here, how they affect us, what exactly they need or expect from us helps us understand better our organizational context, all of the external and internal issues we are facing.

Why should we care about them?

If you are still not convinced why we need to care so much about the opinion of our interested parties, let’s reverse roles here. How would you like to be an airline passenger removed from your rightful airplane seat without your previous consent? What is your reaction if the hotel that took your reservation earlier, announces upon your arrival that your room is no longer available? Or if the very customer you provided with a quality service on time, is in no rush whatsoever to pay your invoice? The examples we can bring are endless. As an individual or an organization each of us is an interested party that affects and is affected by the activities and decisions of myriads of business and other organizations every single day. If we want our needs to be taken care of and our expectations met by them,  we need to begin by paying attention to our interested parties, including those who only perceive themselves affected by what we do.

About the Author: Natella Isazada has spent about 15 years in the field of Quality Management and Occupational Health & Safety in heavy manufacturing and service environments. She is an active member of American Society of Quality which she joined in 2004. Natella has been certified as a Quality Auditor, ISO 9000 Series Lead auditor (IRCA) and as a Manager of Quality and Organizational Excellence with ASQ.