How to get beyond standards to better business and quality

Managing increasing regulatory pressures is one of the three critical challenges that quality leaders will continue to face at an expanding rate. In the US and Europe, regulatory requirements and international standards continually evolve to address new challenges in various industries, including cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and environmental protection. Staying current with the latest standards and requirements is crucial for quality leaders to ensure compliance, maintain competitive advantage, and drive continuous improvement.  

Standards: a way to get ahead   
Standards can be an opportunity if you use them to your advantage and benefit from the guidance they provide. To be (or become) a quality leader, you should see standards and regulations beyond the necessary bureaucracy that comes with fulfilling them. As a visionary quality leader, exploring and leveraging the know-how built into the standards will help you gain trust, efficiency, and a competitive advantage. 

New call-to-actionKey areas are evolving fast    
As a compliance specialist, staying current with applicable industry regulations and standards, understanding how they impact various aspects of your business, and translating these requirements into actionable processes are crucial. An essential resource is the ISO list of all standards related to management systems. But some areas are developing faster, and here are a few examples: 

Artificial intelligence is one area that is rapidly evolving. The development and deployment of AI technologies raise ethical, safety, and transparency concerns, prompting new regulatory frameworks. The latest standard, ISO/IEC 42001:2023, is related to an AI management system. We have previously mentioned the EU AI Act, a landmark legislation proposed by the European Commission. Another example is the NIST AI Risk Management Framework (AI RMF), a voluntary guidance document developed by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). It helps organizations identify risks and propose actions to manage generative AI. 

Due to the increasing frequency and sophistication of cyberattacks, the importance of protecting digital infrastructure and developing cyber resilience, cybersecurity, and information security are other areas where standards and regulations have increased. Recent examples include ISO/IEC 27001, which outlines information security, cybersecurity, and privacy protection requirements, and ISO/IEC 27002, which outlines information security controls. In Europe, legislation has expanded, including the Network and Information Systems Directive (NIS Directive and NIS2), effective October 2024. In the US, cybersecurity is a top priority for the Department of Defense. They have developed the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) to help contractors meet cybersecurity requirements. 

Many other areas have also evolved recently, including stricter environmental sustainability and climate change regulations, anti-bribery and whistleblowing, and financial services such as cryptocurrencies. 

Integrated management systems: linking requirements and standards with your organization and business 
With the increased rate of evolving standards, management systems are essential to effectively manage and comply with regulations and standards. They should be integrated to quickly incorporate regulatory changes or absorb significant shifts in the industry.  Integrated management systems provide systematic and structured ways of working for your organization to stay up-to-date with new and coming changes, describe how your company delivers on the requirements, and improve how efficiently you fulfill them. It links the external requirements and the contents of your management system.  

Management system standards will help your company comply with legal requirements. Management systems that follow international standards are a good foundation for horizontal integration and cooperation in the supply chain 

In the coming years, we can also expect a version update of ISO 9001. Some standards, such as ISO 9001, have become a hygiene factor and minimum level. As a quality leader, complying early on with AI or information security standards can be a competitive advantage. 

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Stay ahead by staying informed 
As a proactive quality leader, continuing your education and certification, engaging with experts and consultants, and engaging with supply chain partners provide valuable insights. Seeking out news from professional communities such as the American Society for Quality and attending conferences and webinars help you stay up-to-date on evolving standards. CANEA offers consultancy services, training, and IT solutions to help you understand and use the standards to your business advantage.

By integrating these strategies, you can effectively stay abreast of the latest standards and regulatory requirements, ensuring your organization remains compliant, competitive, and capable of achieving high levels of quality and performance.