ISO 9001 Knowledge Management: DOs and DON'Ts

Staff exchanging notes in compliance with the knowledge management clause of ISO 9001

Practical advice on ISO 9001:2015 Clause 7.1.6

This requirement in ISO 9001:2015 is often poorly addressed and more importantly, the valuable opportunity it provides is frequently ignored.

What is ISO 9001:2015 Clause 7.1.6?

The Clause, entitled 'Organizational knowledge,' tells us:

The organization shall determine the knowledge necessary for the operation of its processes and to achieve conformity of products and services. This knowledge shall be maintained and be made available to the extent necessary. etc.

What is Organizational Knowledge?

Organizational knowledge is the specific knowledge of an organization coming either from its collective experience or from the individual experience of its staff.

The persons of the organization and their experience are the foundation of organizational knowledge. This knowledge is or can be used to achieve the organization's quality objectives or its intended results.

Capturing and sharing such experience and knowledge can generate synergies leading to the creation of new or updated organizational knowledge.

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Why was the Organizational Knowledge requirement introduced?

There were two primary reasons why organizational knowledge was introduced in the requirements for ISO 9001, namely:

1.  to safeguard the organization from loss of knowledge, e.g.

2.  to encourage the organization to acquire knowledge, e.g.
  • learning from experience;
  • mentoring;
  • benchmarking.

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Examples of Sources of Knowledge of Products and Services

Internal Sources

External Sources

  • Standards,
  • Academia,
  • Conferences, and
  • Gathering knowledge from customers or from external providers.




How to Demonstrate Organizational Knowledge When Implementing ISO 9001

A large, complex organization could choose to implement a formal knowledge management system.  Whereas, a smaller, less complex organization might choose to use simpler methods, such as by maintaining logbooks on design decisions or on the properties and performance of chemical compounds that were developed and tested.

However you approach the challenge, here are some fundamental suggestions:


  • Do introduce a mentoring scheme.  This can be part of the induction and training of new recruits or of persons transferred to new positions.  Just make sure that it's only good habits that are passed on – choose the mentors carefully.

  • Do make sure that there is a formal succession plan, if yours is a small organization. Include the development of the persons who are expected to take over in the future, be that 5, 10 or more years ahead. You want to avoid the adage about family businesses – the first generation establishes it; the second generation builds it; the third generation destroys it!

  • Do make deliberate use of older, experienced staff members as trainers when making training plans.  Train them to be trainers, if necessary.  Don’t exclude senior executives.

  • Do record shared-knowledge in a database. The data concerned is likely to be of most use to those involved in research, design and development activities.  Consider how you can make it most readily available and accessible to them.


  • Don’t presume that you know it all. Just because you’ve fully specified your products and services, and have a set of procedures that have proven themselves adequate over a number of internal audit cycles does not mean you have no need for more thorough documentation.

  • Don’t forget to make your database of information searchable.  If people can’t easily find useful information, they tend to ignore it.

  • Don’t undertake this exercise on your own. It’s the collective experience you’re trying to capture.  It would be an ideal improvement project for your next Management Review.

Note: ISO/TS 9002:2016 was used in the preparation of this post.



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Note: First published in Sep 2017; revised and updated in Apr 2021.

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deGRANDSON Global is an ISO Certified Educational Organization

ISO Compound Logo-2-1 - compressedIn  October 2021 we secured certification to three education-related ISO Standards.  We now have a university-grade management system in place conforming to the requirements of  …

  • ISO 21001, Educational Organizational Management System,
  • ISO 29993, Learning Services outside formal Education,  and
  • ISO 29994, Learning Services – additional requirements for Distance Learning.

We have chosen ISO 21001 certification because, unlike IRCA and Exemplar badges (which in our opinion are commercially compromised), it is based on independent third-party assessment.  It is a ‘university grade’ standard in use globally by schools, colleges, and universities to demonstrate their competence.


Written by Dr John FitzGerald

Director & Founder of deGRANDSON Global. Spent 15 years in the manufacturing industry and 25 years training, consulting & auditing management systems
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