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Competency Modeling for Beginners: What it is and How You Can Do It Too!

What is Competency Modeling?

If you work in Human Resources or are a CEO who keeps up to date with learning and development program trends, you will know of competency models. A competency model, according to, is “a framework for defining the skill and knowledge requirements of a job. It is a collection of competencies that jointly define successful job performance.”

Competencies are more all encompassing than job skills because the idea is they take into account soft skills such as knowledge, behaviors, and abilities in addition to technical or required skills of a role. And this collection of competencies makes up a competency model.

Whether your company needs to assess hard or soft skills for business goals or due to compliance with quality and safety regulations, implementing competency models within your organization will supercharge your learning and development program.

Elements of a Competency Model

Competency models can take a variety of forms, but as points out in the excerpt below, they usually include the following elements:

  • Competency names and detailed definitions
  • Descriptions of activities or behavior
  • A diagram of the model

For example, a competency model could include a competency called “Teamwork” defined as:

  • establishing constructive and solid interpersonal relationships;
  • treating others with courtesy, tact, and respect;
  • working effectively with others, regardless of organizational level, background, gender, race, or ethnicity;
  • working to resolve disagreements, attempting to persuade others and read agreements;
  • abiding by and supporting group decisions; and
  • facilitating team interaction and maintaining focus on group goals.

And this model of Teamwork could consist of behaviors such as:

  • handling differences in work styles effectively when working with coworkers,
  • capitalizing on strengths of others on a team to get work done,
  • anticipating potential conflicts and addressing them directly and effectively,
  • motivating others to contribute opinions and suggestions, and
  • demonstrating a personal commitment to group goals.

While these models can often be as simple as a bulleted list, a visual diagram can help leadership and direct reports get a better sense of how the competencies are interrelated and its key features. They can also include information on career pathways and how the requirements of the hard or soft skills are different at various levels of mastery and experience.

Look at this competency model from as an example. It is the Waste and Wastewater model. And to learn more about manufacturing and competency management, read our article on the topic.


Once the model has been put in place, there are many different ways to implement it into an organization. Many companies use elearning and training software such as Learning Management Systems (LMS). More advanced companies use Competency Management Systems. See a few examples of this below.

Competency-based Training Example in Manufacturing

Human resources and training departments use competency models to define skill requirements for specific positions. These models are also used to assess performance and job progress, and in this way help set business strategy throughout the company as a whole.

For example, The Manufacturing Institute has developed the Advanced Manufacturing Competency Model. In this model some of the workplace competencies include:

  • Understand how one’s performance can impact the success of the organization
  • Demonstrate an understanding of market trends, the company’s position in the marketplace, and defined market segments
  • Understand the position of the company’s product/service with regards to market demand.

Any worker possessing the above competencies will make them a more valuable employee. And as you can see, workplace competencies encompass much more than the technical skills required for job performance. In this Advanced Competency Model, they also include issues related to business ethics, legal/financial issues, environmental, health and safety, and social responsibility issues.

Competency Model Example in Human Resources

Not all competency models have to be industry specific and can have broader use to Human Resources as well. Assessment Associates International, a recruiting firm, recently noted, “Organizations are fluid and dynamic. Technologies and processes change, and competitive pressures regularly alter how jobs are defined. Less supervision, increased technical skills, greater use of information technology, and the ever-changing nature of work itself all create a need for a different set of competencies.”

AAI also goes on to describe how competency models can not only help with the learning and development of current employees, but can aid in the process of hiring to determine what to look for in a candidate and career pathways for each individual from day one. Look at their version of a competency model below, and notice the similarities and differences from the one that CareerOneStop put together.

competency model human resources

Value of a Competency Model

While it is true that all companies already have some sort of competency management program in place, because if their employees weren’t competent they would be out of business! But the purpose of a competency management system and competency modeling is to identify what makes the best members of the organization special, and translate that to the rest of the business. Cheryl Lasse for specifies that “In essence, the value of a competency model is that it identifies what skills each person in the company must be able to do to be “great.” If everyone performs at the “great” level, the company strategy is achieved, and a company is likely to have a competitive advantage. For example, an engineer must be able to perform engineering design functions, but a great engineer can work with other R&D engineers to troubleshoot design issues before they reach manufacturing.”

Bear in mind that in today’s competitive business environment, the need for competency models is more acute than ever. Lasse goes on to elaborate this point, saying:

  • The pace of change has accelerated—and with it, the skills required to be successful continue to change.
  • To survive today, companies must continuously innovate, which only increases the changing skills required.
  • People stay in the same job for less time and, therefore, people need to be able to become “great” without as much experience as they had in the past.
  • New workers entering the workforce want to be able to make an impact more quickly; they want to know how to be “great” right away and are motivated to get there.

Managers need to know what hard and soft skills are required for themselves and their direct reports to excel. They must also understand how to innovate and maximize their talent management potential. This leads to more motivated individuals and success for the organization.

How to Use Competency Models in Your Organization

Now that you understand what a competency model is, have seen examples, and how they are valuable to an organization, it is time to make them for yourself! To use competency models, it is important to identify who the key instructional designers and subject matter experts are in your organization. These personnel will be instrumental in not only creating the models but also distributing them to the organization and making sure they are implemented effectively. Depending on the type of organization, these individuals could all be in the HR department, but it is likely they are in the Learning and Development department, as well as some members in the Quality and Safety divisions.

Many organizations use a combination of spreadsheets and written documents to write down the competency models, and then put the onus on L+D leadership to carry them out to the rest of the organization using an LMS.

This can be effective, but as organizations grow and requirements change, can become problematic. To learn more about the importance of Competency Management in an organization, read our article.

Here at CABEM we believe that the best way to positively impact your employees and learning and development programs is with a competency management software system. We designed our Competency Manager product for this exact reason. If you see a value in this type of approach and want to learn more, we’d love to give you a demo.

5 Core Competencies for Effective Leadership

Leadership Competencies for C Level Executives

Developing competencies for an organization is as important as it is challenging. While most of the focus in competency management is for the individual employee, it is equally vital for C-Level executives, managers, supervisors, and other decision-makers to adhere to competencies specific to them.

In a Harvard Business Review study, Sunnie Giles analyzed 195 leaders in 15 countries over 30 global organizations. Participants were asked to choose the 15 most important leadership competencies from a list of 74.

These competencies were grouped into five major themes and priorities for leadership development programs. These have a significant impact on both operations and business development. The five groups are:

  1. Demonstrates strong ethics and provides a sense of safety
  2. Empowers others to self-organize
  3. Fosters a sense of connection and belonging
  4. Shows openness to new ideas and encourages organizational learning
  5. Nurtures growth

Giles concluded by saying, “These five areas present significant challenges to leaders due to the natural responses that are hardwired into us. But with deep self-reflection and a shift in perspective (perhaps aided by a coach), there are also enormous opportunities for improving everyone’s performance by focusing on our own.”

Core Leadership Competencies Evaluation

core competency training
Leaders who train themselves to core competencies will be the most effective

As a CEO, look at the above five groups as guiding principles to your management style. As other leaders have agreed upon these, they can help you make sure you are behaving in ways that not only benefit not only the organization as a whole in accordance to these themes, but also improving your own skills and personal development.

Demonstrates Strong Ethics and Provides a Sense of Safety:

Are you, as a CEO, upholding the standards that your company represents? Do you motivate your employees to act in a fair and balanced way in all their business transactions. Are you treating all individuals and customers with respect, and communicate about the importance of honesty in all business dealings? If you do, then you are contributing to your employees’ sense of safety. A workplace where standards are defined and upheld, and where personal differences are respected, is one where employees can thrive and work together as a team.

Empowers Others to Self-Organize:

As Giles noted, research has repeatedly shown that empowered teams are more productive and proactive, provide better customer service, and show higher levels of job satisfaction and commitment to their group and organization. Are you a leader who hesitates to let people self-organize or resists giving up power? A leader that is able to do this successfully sets his organization and individuals up for long term success.

Fosters a Sense of Connection and Belonging:

If you are a CEO who wants to promote a sense of belonging among your employees, this goes beyond simply holding a Holiday party every December! You need to reinforce this sense of connection every day, in all your corporate communications and in your behavior. Walking through your company’s offices each morning and greeting employees by name, asking about their families, and giving them recognition for a job well done all go a long way towards developing a sense of connection in your team. As you do this your employees will not only feel more appreciated and have improved morale, but improved performance as well.

Shows Openness to New Ideas and Fosters Organizational Learning:

You want to be the type of leader who shows support and encouragement to employees who come forward with ideas about how to improve processes, save time and money, and make other suggestions that will make the workplace more productive. You also want to foster organizational learning at your company, to give workers the chance to improve themselves, seek opportunities to advance and to acquire new skills. All of these will have an impact on both your operations and your business development. If you develop an environment that encourages risk-taking, and that sees failure as an opportunities for lessons and growth, then you will support employees in their creativity and find that your company is a place where people enjoy their work and thrive in their roles.

Nurtures Growth:

Are you a CEO who nurtures growth? Are you willing to listen to your managers as they grapple with problems, and do not judge them as they try out new solutions? If you do this, you will be nurturing their growth. People learn by experience. Sometimes they have to fail to grasp a lesson well. And if they do, help them get back up and try again. Your managers will grow in the process, they will trust you as their CEO, and they will feel confident they are developing skills as they move forward.

Competency Models Can Guide You in the Process

Many leaders instinctually have all of the above competencies, and some do not. But either way, it is important that leaders formalize their own competencies just as they do for their direct reports and others.

Develop or implement a competency management system in your company that allows you to lead by example, so you can clearly communicate expectations throughout the business. Don’t be restricted by what has been done in the past; push the boundaries and welcome feedback as to what your employees like or don’t like about your competency management process and learning and development program.

How to Deliver Competency Models to an Organization

If your company has been using a Learning Management Systems (LMS) for training, this can be very effective, but does not address all elements that come with the broader view competency management allows. This type of software can deliver competency models to individuals across the organization, accounting for not just hard skill trainings, but soft skills such as behaviors or knowledge. Moving to a competency management system can alleviate the following pain points:

  • Organizational silos in big companies, where information is not readily or easily shared
  • Allows C-level to step back and assess their goals, and use that assessment as a compass for their Learning and Development programs
  • L&D and cultural knowledge can be formalized and distributed company-wide

Giving your team access to all relevant information on a dashboard will enhance business development and ensure you are poised to react to industry changes. As Pasmore and Taylor said in their article Core Competencies Remain Critical to Success, “In the future, change will be key to every major breakthrough, of which there are potentially very many. To seize these opportunities, leaders will need to up their game concerning change…”

Competency management software will help your senior team to get ahead of the change curve and identify opportunities quickly, which in turn “will build a greater capacity in individuals, teams, and networks to undertake successful change,” said the authors.

Most importantly, your competency management software will enable you to understand the potential of technology to transform your organization and the world. You want to achieve significant accomplishments and do so in an efficient, effective, and lasting way. Competency Management software will be critical to your success in this endeavor.

If you are interested in making this shift, talk to us! Our competency management software is flexible and scalable enough to accommodate growing organizations of any size.

Associations Also Need Competencies (Not Just Businesses)


Many professionals are required to participate in continuing education programs (often called CEUs) for a certain number of hours per year to keep their certifications, credentials, and licenses to practice. And many others participate in optional programs to further their careers.

These occupations include:

  • Doctors
  • Nurses
  • Lawyers
  • Engineers
  • CPAs
  • Real Estate Agents
  • Financial Advisers
  • and more

Over time certain associations have emerged that not only provide an organization for career advancement and education, but that define, set standards, and control requirements for its industry.

Some of these associations have over 100,000 members, and with this comes an administrative challenge to track member activities including:

  • Who has the necessary requirements for membership
  • When do they need to renew
  • Where are certifications and credentials stored
  • Where can members earn additional required credits

While most associations put this responsibility on the members themselves, often people don’t organize their credentials and certifications properly which can lead to problems and inefficiencies. But with easy access to certification and credentialing information using software, the association and/or the members themselves can easily prove they are competent in their profession and have the necessary requirements for membership.

Any association that can implement a self-contained ecosystem for membership management will not only be more attractive to potential members, but can operate more efficiently and cut down on administrative costs of existing members.

Examples of Associations that Require Certifications

There are hundreds of associations that not only educate its members but offer trainings and certifications that have significance or even requirements in its respective industries. Examples include:

But Why Core Competencies?

While some people join an association because it is required, most do so with the intention of learning additional skills and knowledge, networking, and overall advancing their professional and personal careers. Associations can be a partner in this journey by thinking like a business and creating what the organization determines are the core competencies of a successful career in that industry, in addition to any and all requirements of membership.

For example, in 2015 health professionals worked together to determine core competencies of the industry. A report resulting from the collective efforts of several health associations was published by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), entitled Core Competencies for Interprofessional Collaborative Practice.

The report stressed that an “institutional curricular development of learning” was needed for enhanced productivity, continued learning, and to meet the ever-changing demands of the profession. The report also offered information to accreditors so they can set common standards for interprofessional education, and offered insight on how to create testing content.

The largest healthcare profession is nursing. And with membership based of over 1 million members in some cases and reports like the one above, it is clear that associations in all industries need formalized software to carry out their membership and competency programs globally.

Competency Management Outlines Pathways for Career Advancement

Another major benefit for a member is the ability to view career pathways of previous members and define goals for him or herself. If the association allows, users can view courses that individuals who have been members for years have taken, and the skills and certifications they have earned.

Software of this kind can create a network and communication ecosystem to encourage mentorship and relationship building for members at various skill levels and stages in their career. If the association so chooses, members can view what classes the more senior members have taken and what courses they should take to grow professionally, similar to creating career pathways in a business field. The could highlight aspirational career pathways that a new member can follow to envision themselves in 5, 10, or even more than 20 years as a member of the association and professional in that field.

Forward thinking associations can aid this process by providing not only the required competencies and courses for membership, but optional courses as well in a public library within software, so members can learn additional skills on his or her own time. Associations can better contribute to its members’ learning and development in a much more involved and effective way than just by giving requirements for membership and stopping there.

career advancement
Members can better advance their careers with help from an association

LMS’ Are Not Enough for Total Workforce Management

There is a growing awareness within the world of associations that Learning Management Systems (LMS) may not be enough to keep up-to-date with all the training needs of association members. In her paper on “Instructional Designers need Flexibility” for the Association for Talent Development (ATD), Mimi Banta spoke on challenges in using LMS’s for trainings, saying, “[Instructional Designers] want to deploy the most current solutions, like social and informal learning, to best meet a need. Yet, the organization’s infrastructure may not be able to document and track that type of learning. Let’s look at the best way to do things. We can figure out how the systems need to adapt to us, versus the other way around.”

While these tools are often guiding the learning, they should not dictate how the learning is carried out. In order to be flexible and best serve members the most effective trainings, competency management software can help. Another article of ours, we talk in-depth about how to implement competency models into your organization.

Another aspect of competency management software is that it can be used to track leadership development in associations. For example, The National Educational Association of teachers, has developed a leadership competencies and skills intended for all current and upcoming teachers, regardless of experience. The skills, the NEA says, “are designed to prepared NEA members to lead relevant and thriving educational associations and become world-class education leaders.”

NEA states, “These competencies define for our association what leaders should know and be able to do in the areas of professional practice, organizing, advocacy, communications, business, as well as governance and leadership.” Associations that take the time and effort to create these competencies should have software that allows them to distribute them effectively and easily to their membership base.

Make Members’ Lives Easier with Software

Storing the membership credentials and competencies of individuals within software not only benefits the association or trade group, but the members themselves. Some benefits for the associations are:

  • An easier way to disseminate learning information
  • Clearer way to track attendance at member events
  • Track members’ uploaded certifications

Individuals often do a poor job of keeping track of their certifications. An engineer might believe that they are in a filing cabinet at home, but when annual renewal time comes, he has misplaced the papers. This is just one example.

An association that can promise a closed, self-sustaining system of managing certifications helps members with one less thing to worry about: keeping track of relevant data.


Competency management systems and credentialing software systems will help associations keep track of individual membership requirements, disseminate training content globally, and track other milestones. Associations that choose to build competency models and adopt a competency-based approach to membership and credential management will find they operate more efficiently and have more satisfied members. We have developed software for this purpose, to learn more request a demo.


Manufacturers Are Embracing Competency and Here’s How You Can Too

Manufacturers Are Embracing Competency and Here’s How You Can Too

The manufacturing industry has come around to realizing the power of a competency-based training philosophy, and is seeing benefits in reduction of injuries, efficiency, and performance as a result. Find out below what competency management and modeling is, and how to implement this type of approach to benefit your learning and development and safety programs.

What is a Competency Model?

A competency model is “a collection of multiple competencies that together define successful performance in an established work setting” according to Competency Model Clearinghouse. It provides a description of what an individual needs to know and be able to do within their job role. This can include specific job-related skills, but also knowledge, behaviors, and abilities as it pertains to the organization or the industry as a whole.

What is the Competency Model Clearinghouse?

The Competency Model Clearinghouse (CMC) is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (ETA). The goal of the Clearinghouse is to inform the public workforce system about the value, development, and uses of competency models. The Competency Model Clearinghouse has an initiative called the Industry Competency Model Initiative, in which they are developing dynamic models of competencies for a variety of different industries. If you are unfamiliar with competency development and need a good place to start, I suggest you check out the website after reading this article to see what information it has that pertains to your organization.

Motorcycle Manufacturer Case Study

Within manufacturing, different models have been developed to cater to a category of expertise. The Tooling U-SME Competency Framework outlines specific competencies for each job role in nine functional areas, including Machining, as described in the case study below.

How can a competency model system improve manufacturing? Consider the case of the North American motorcycle manufacturer, cited in this report below by Tooling-U, “Using Competency Models to Drive Competitiveness and Combat the Manufacturing Skills Gap.”

In this example, the manufacturer wanted to develop technical employees into workers who could perform in a broader spectrum of roles across the globe. According to the report, “The team developed a competency framework and designed curriculum elements to include a standardized blended program of online classroom, simulated work and on-the-job training (OJT).”

The report states, “The use of a competency framework resulted in an accelerated process, with workers achieving competency 60 percent faster than with standard training programs, resulting in productivity gains and cost savings.”

Tooling U-SME Case Study

Tooling U-SME is a workforce development provider of online learning solutions. It offers a wide range of online classes, instructor-led, and blended learning.

If Tooling U-SME can be combined with an automated system for competency management, the results will be a more extensive dissemination of the competencies and trainings, easier access by companies and individuals, and a more efficient system for tracking individual progress. Besides this specific case study related to a motorcycle manufacturer, it is clear that other companies can benefit from the use of the competency model described.

Advanced Manufacturing Competency Model

The Advanced Manufacturing Competency Model (below) from the Manufacturing Institute, was developed by manufacturers to illustrate the competencies and skills needed by workers in the industry, whether just starting out or looking to progress in their career. It includes core skills and competencies such as:

  1. Personal effectiveness
  2. Workplace competencies
  3. Basic applied skills in reading, writing, math, and locating information

manufacturing competency model

Next are the critical industry-wide technical competencies. These are crucial for safety and quality programs and will be different based on the industry. These types of competencies can be completed by a blended learning program that includes test taking, on the job training (OJT), instructor led training (ILT), and more. This is accomplished easier using a competency management software system than using online communication such as email or Microsoft Office, and also is preferable over traditional LMS.

The third level of certification is specific to the sector of an industry. Occupations that are in demand are matched with industry certifications, examples include welding, fabrication, and more.

At the top of the Competency Model are managerial and specialty occupations, which can be covered with certifications and advanced degrees.

The Advanced Manufacturing Competency Model is an effort on the part of manufacturers to develop a common reference of skills necessary to succeed in a variety of professions but will be different and specific to each company and industry within manufacturing. The model was updated in 2010 to reflect new information about sustainable and environmentally-friendly manufacturing behaviors.

Competency Models in Action – Competency Based Education

Competency Based Training can apply to a variety of different industries. In the below case study, the National Center for Biotechnology Workforce collaborated with the Los Angeles Valley College to develop the Biotech Bridge Training program, which helped build a pipeline of talent.

The organization developed a “a six-week program designed to help students develop a much-needed set of core skills and competencies targeted specifically for the bioscience industry.” The program is very selective, only choosing 20-30 students. From the program, students learned hard skills in math and science as well as soft skills such as interview and preparation.

A global pharmaceutical company, Baxalta, has hired 96 students from this program, with only a 5% turnover. Average turnover of employees hired via HR and normal onboarding procedures is 23% according to the study. Another company Grifols, a global biopharmaceutical manufacturing company, has hired 25 students from this program. This program proves that when care and attention are taken to train manufacturing employees to a set of core competencies, it produces excellent workers. To learn more on how to implement this in your own organization, read our article on How to Apply Competency-Based Methodology to Learning and Development Programs.


It is clear that some manufacturers are already developing competency models for various categories in their industry and benefiting from them. However, most manufacturers are still relying on online learning or classroom teaching to improve their workers’ skills. In this era of advanced technology, these methods are outdated, costly, and limited.

If manufacturers can advance to an automated system for competency management they will see many benefits:

  • A system that adapts to manufacturing companies’ changing needs
  • A variety of training methods that cater to individual learning preferences, whether written, visual, OTJ, ILT, blended, and more.
  • Wider distribution of competency model management within the manufacturing workforce as a whole, and within individual companies.
  • Ease of access from all employees via computers
  • Easier storage of data to mark progress and keep track of credentials, and for supervisors to keep track of employees’ training

Manufacturing is a rapidly changing industry, and to account for these changes, companies would benefit greatly from modernizing their workforce development programs with competency management. Our Competency Manager software is designed to help manufacturers build a framework for individual competency. To learn more and request a demo, click here.


Competency Management is the Future of Learning and Development

What are Competencies and Why Does an Organization Need Them?

Training employees today is very different than it used to be. Many organizations have realized the benefit of using an online training software, with the LMS (learning management system) market projected to grow almost 4x by 2022. But even with all of the LMS offerings, customers are still not happy. Some studies have shown that as many as 44% of customers will replace their LMS in two years.

The thinking behind employee training has not changed, and a more comprehensive approach to employee growth using a competency-first mindset is necessary. Competencies are the skills, knowledge and behaviors required to perform a specific job and to achieve success.

It is essential that companies develop competencies for each position so that each employee understands what is expected, can be trained to these requirements, and can perform to the best of his or her ability. This is a more complete way of approaching learning and development which benefits the organization as a whole, and also the individual in achieving his or her own goals.

But it is not easy to standardize the trainings of individuals throughout your organization and to make every person fully competent. Some of the main challenges include:

  • Creating learning and development programs that cater to a variety of learning styles based on an individual’s learning preferences and demographics
  • Disseminating these programs to the entire organization in an efficient and effective way
  • Tracking the results of these training programs in ways that are comprehensive and allow for informed decision-making that improves the organization as a whole

And yet every company finds a way to evaluate competency.  If an organization’s employees weren’t at least partially competent, the firm would be out of business!

Can Competency Management Apply to Your Business?

While there are challenges associated with this approach, competency-based thinking is applicable to any size of business and in virtually every industry.

Startups and small-to-medium-sized businesses may encounter growing pains if they make a jump in employee size or add another office at a different location. Their training methods at one location may not be as effective at the next location.  They now need better methods for training a workforce that is not only increasing in size but is more spread out. Having a formal competency management approach in place can help prevent or solve these problems.

And in enterprise and Fortune 500 companies, especially those that are looking at acquisitions, management may utilize an LMS (Learning Management System), but not the software capability to formalize and communicate the organization’s culture, philosophy, and soft skills effectively. In addition, any acquired firms may have used training methods that are very different from those used in the parent company. Competency management can help to assimilate new acquisitions and help the entire organization perform more consistently and effectively.

What we often find is that companies have “pockets” of expertise and knowledge that are hidden. This employee expertise should be acknowledged and shared with the entire organization using software.

As said, “Corporations have to adapt fast to changing environments; so do the employees of those companies.  To make the change smooth, HR managers should know precisely what skills the company’s staff already has and what competencies they are lacking.” Once a company has this information, it can organize training to fill in gaps in knowledge and skills.

Training Misconceptions

The traditional method of workforce development involves the use of online training software such as Learning Management Systems. While these have provided more capability and flexibility to the Learning and Development process, the overall approach and philosophy to employee training has not adapted at the same pace.

Many companies use an LMS as a standalone method of practice, creating courses or modules with assessments such as true/false, multiple choice, and short answer.  Others use the more traditional classroom teaching, only in a virtual environment rather than physical.  This can be effective in many cases, but the problem with this method is that it only covers the material taught in class.

What about the skills needed for the job or in the field? The most efficient way to train and to assess skills is to practice in real situations.  Companies need to put employees in real life conditions to challenge them, check their abilities and safety measures, and ensure they are competent in their jobs. Some LMS’ cover this with ILT (instructor led training) and OTJ (on the job training), but this needs to be at the core of learning and development programs, not an afterthought. This can be accomplished more effectively with competencies over traditional skills-based online training.

competency management
Competency management aligns with organizational goals and L/D goals

Skills vs. Competencies

In order for an organization to shift from traditional training to competency-focused methods, it is important to understand the difference between skills and competencies. The difference is subtle and can be nuanced, but it is extremely important to an organization’s success.

Context is key. Competencies are the skills within the context of the employee’s responsibilities, distinguished by role, department, or even location. For example, a set of competencies required by a manager at a distribution center would be different from those needed by a sales manager at corporate headquarters.

Keep in mind:

  • These requirements will continuously change, which makes it even more critical that they are documented and formalized
  • Competency is different in each industry

Even with individual organizations within an industry (for example Ford vs. Toyota in automotive manufacturing), there is no standard on what being “fully competent” is, so any software that addresses competency management should be flexible to account for this. Each organization has its own goals and idea of what competency is. This also applies to different sectors such as aerospace vs. automotive manufacturing standards.

Competencies are useful to employees because, as the NIH stated, “Competencies focus on specific training and development opportunities that will help employees grow and strive for excellence.”

How to Create Competency Models

Now that you understand the importance of competencies and how they differ from traditional training, how do you implement this new approach, and create models of competency-based training that your employees will utilize?

It’s important to keep in mind that the goal of any Learning and Development program is to produce fully competent employees. When choosing software to help with skills management, it is crucial the new product does not dictate how this is accomplished. As mentioned earlier, software should be flexible to the unique operations of an organization, and this extends to a person’s unique learning preferences as well.

Competency models need to include:

  • Identification of core competencies needed on a job
  • Links to other talent processes
  • Alignment with business goals
  • Highlight of other strengths for an individual to develop
  • Notification of other opportunities that will give an individual additional experience.

Competency Models can be written down in a list format, or use a visual table or graph. They can be built for an individual role, but are more effective when they take into account learning pathways of an individual in a specific career trajectory. For example a technician at a warehouse facility needs specific hard and soft skills, but his or her foreman needs additional skills as well.

Individuals learn in different ways. Some learn visually, by reading written material, via audio or tactile means, and others by practicing a skill. Many also learn by being coached, with mentoring programs, and a combination of these techniques.

Technology today is advanced enough to address these different learning styles for individuals, so why is it that most corporate training programs deliver tests in a standard manner to every person? These standardized tests are effective for some, but not equally effective for all individuals.

Further complicating this learning issue is the generational difference.  For example, Millennials prefer video and microlearning, while the older generation prefers print. And learning styles will continue to evolve over time as technology changes.

That is why it is crucial to build competency models that identify the core competencies employees need for a comprehensive L+D program. These models serve as a blueprint for superior performance.

When employees follow a competency model that suits their learning preferences and applies to their particular role, they can improve their skills quickly and succeed, which leads to higher job satisfaction, enhanced performance, and improved employee retention.

Competency Management Aligns Itself with Business Goals

A competency management software system is also beneficial because it allows management and other decision makers to take a step back to think about how their trainings affect the organization as a whole, not just their department or direct reports.

The interrelation of subject matter experts in departments such as quality, safety, HR, and more, is important to a consistently performing organization that is poised for growth, especially those industries with quality and safety concerns.

Mark Homer, in his article, Skills and Competency Management says, “It is most important to identify which particular set of key skills is required for the business to achieve its strategic goals.” He emphasizes the importance of
capturing distinct competencies to ensure employee trainings align with the goals of the enterprise.

Competency management enables team members to not only prove they are competent in their current role but that they continually improve their knowledge, skills, and behavior, all the while addressing their individual learning styles.

And as Laci Loew wrote in, “Effective and automated competency management creates a real-time and predictive inventory of the capability of any workforce.”

Competency management software can help assist your employees to improve their skills and morale.  This progress will lead to less turnover, greater organizational efficiency, and increased profits for your business.


In summary, if your business wants to help your employees progress, develop programs that advance your organization’s goals, and have evidence that your staff can perform their jobs not just in theory, but in real world situations, then it is time for you to try a competency management software system. We offer a solution called the Competency Manager which was made to solve this need. If you have an LMS and are unhappy with your training program, or simply want to add the benefits of competency management, we’d love to give a demo today.

How Competency Management Improves Learning Management Systems


Learning Management Systems (LMS) are utilized by countless organizations to train employees throughout various stages of their careers. But according to recent studies, they may not be as effective as once believed. A survey by the Brandon Hall Group found, “44% of companies are looking to replace their LMS within the next two years.” And, unless changes to their technology strategy are made, “they will most likely find themselves perennially in the replacement group.”

In an effort to address these shortcomings, progressive organizations are focusing more on managing competency rather than relying on traditional training methods. Conventionally, companies have used LMS’ to train their employees to specific roles. But their capability usually ends with administering and grading tests such as true or false and multiple choice.

competency management
Supercharge your workforce with competency management!

How a Competency Management System is Different From an LMS

A competency management system takes this further and proves that the employee who has passed a test is also competent to perform to his/her role through objective evidence. As stated in an article from the International Journal of Manpower “The competency approach to human resource management is based on identifying, defining and measuring individual differences in terms of specific, work-related constructs, especially the abilities that are critical to successful job performance.” When managing competency, the focus shifts from pass/fail test taking to a more comprehensive analysis of the capabilities and expertise of both employees and jobs. These includes skills, qualifications, and even behaviors.

While completing a module and passing a test is still an acceptable form of employee training, it is not enough in the modern workplace. A trained employee is not necessarily always a competent one, which we discussed further in our article trained vs. competent. Being able to prove and sign off on an employee’s competence gives a company the peace of mind that their team is completing tasks effectively and safely. Mark Homer, in his article Skills and Competency Management says, “It is most important to identify which particular set of key skills is required for the business to achieve its strategic goals.” He is emphasizing the importance of capturing distinct hard and soft skills (competencies) to ensure employee training and management align with the priorities of the enterprise. These competencies can be grouped in various ways such as by role, by department, by team, by physical location, and more.

Competency-based Systems Make Trainings Flexible

Multiple completion methods of competencies are necessary to provide employees the ability to prove their competency to a specific group in a variety of ways. The Institute for Learning Styles Research has identified seven styles in which people learn. These include:

  1. Print: Printed or written words.
  2. Aural: Refers to listening.
  3. Visual: Seeing visual depictions such as pictures or graphs.
  4. Haptic: Refers to sense of touch.
  5. Interactive: Refers to verbalization.
  6. Kinesthetic: Whole body movement.
  7. Olfactory: Refers to sense of smell and taste.

These many preferred ways of learning will also affect the ways in which people prove something has been learned and retained. Current LMS’ do not provide flexibility to learners who struggle with traditional test taking and therefore cannot provide a clear picture of competency within an enterprise.

Managing competency enables team members to not only prove they are competent to their current role, but to also continually improve their knowledge, skills, and behavior, all while addressing their unique learning styles. Additional techniques for competency signoff in modern systems include manager and subject matter expert (SME) signoff, witnessing, performance assessment, certification and documentations, attendance, and even user signoff. These methods can be independent or mutually assigned to ensure employees are fully competent.

Keeping track of all of this information has proven to be a daunting task for many industries, especially heavily regulated ones that must be compliant to ISO, OSHA, and other standards. For this reason, a comprehensive competency management system should come equipped with gap analysis, risk management, and metrics modules that provide efficient and systematic visibility into the enterprise. A gap analysis allows administrators to easily view the number of missing competencies required for employees to satisfy a specific role. And with risk mitigation features, managers can assign a risk priority number (RPN) to individual competencies, making it easier for administrators to focus in on higher risk action items.

Our Solution to this Problem is the Competency Manager

Due to this emerging trend of businesses towards competency-based learning, and away from traditional LMS’, we have developed a software system that specifically addresses this need, called the Competency Manager. The product is derived from our existing LMS, and provides an enterprise framework for competency. It gives an organization the ability to assign customizable competency programs for their workforce, allowing you to train employees, identify pathways to success, manage risk, and increase efficiency at all levels of the organization. To find out more, request a demo.

How Competency Management Can Address HR Needs

Companies of all sizes use Human Resource Management Systems (HRMS) and Human Capital Management (HCM) tools such as Workday or SAP Successfactors to manage their employees. Tracking and managing all HR functions is a complex undertaking, and with the technology available today, it is clear that software is the best solution to this challenge.

As the changing workforce management landscape makes this task more complex, companies are using other software to supplement and augment their HR systems, such as competency and skills tracking software. Competency software is similar to an HRMS in that it contains employee information such as job function, history, and documents. Competency software cannot replace an HRMS, but can improve its functionality because it focuses on improving the workforce by identifying the skills and qualifications required for reach role, location, department, or other group, as well as training to and fulfilling these requirements.

A competency system allows a manager, admin, or SME to then match or identify employees that are competent to the skills of each role and group. Depending on an organization’s permissions, individual employees will have access to their information as well.

While competency software systems are still in the early adoption stage, there are a variety of different HR Systems available today, and most cover the same basic functions:

  1. Compensation
  2. Skills Management
  3. Policy and Documentation


An HRMS will contain an employee’s payroll information as well as his or her benefits and the insurance plans available. Some systems such as Bamboo HR have individual profiles for each employee to see this information on their own, and for a manager to see the employees he or she is responsible for.

Giving employees visibility into his/her own profiles allows them to input timecard information as well as request vacation days and time off themselves, driving down managerial costs. A comprehensive competency system can also contain payroll information as part of a user’s profile, and with a Calendar feature can allow personnel to see upcoming training, audits, or other action items.

Skills Management

Software systems are great for collecting information on employee’s skills for onboarding purposes as well as workforce development and succession planning. It is essential for managers to have a grasp on which employees they are responsible for, their lines of authority, and what skills these employees possess.

HR Systems such as Zenefits are designed to hold onboarding documentation such as W4s and I9s, as well as hire date and history. A skills tracking software can hold this documentation, as well as determine what competencies a role requires. If an organization is hiring multiple people at once, that user’s skills can be entered, and he or she can be assigned a role automatically by a manager within the system. Employee skills can be entered into buckets not only by role but also location-specific competencies, departmental, or other.

This can work for succession planning as well, from an individual and organizational perspective. Based on permissions, a user is able to see his/her own competencies, as well as other roles that the person may only be one or two competencies away from. With this information a manager can run a Gap Analysis report, in which they can quickly identify the gaps in skills between individuals of different or similar roles.

A manager can even perform Gap Analysis if there is a role or requirement that no one is competent to, and determine which employees are close enough that they can be accelerated to fit the criteria. If there is any lack of competency to a role, being able to see this easily within software is a significant advantage to businesses with the goal of keeping lean operations, and remaining efficient and effective.

Ultimately, if a new hire is required, an HR system can automatically post job descriptions and opportunities to sites such as Indeed or Simply Hired. A competency system can be designed to integrate with existing HR software, and can be imported to or exported from using an API, CSV, and configured in other ways based on an organization’s needs.

Policy and Documentation

All organizations have documentation associated with each employee, and depending on the industry, there may be multiple documents that are required by law. An HR or competency system is able to contain all of the necessary documents, from employee manuals and handbooks, to certifications and credentials of necessary safety training to remain compliant to OSHA or ISO.

Lastly, most comprehensive systems can automate a company’s processes by scheduling reminders of recurring training, and to minimize manager duties, can have self-certifying options for employees such as e-signatures.

Can My Organization Benefit from a Competency System?

If you use one of the many HR options out today, you realize how well they help your organization by simplifying administrative tasks as well as managerial duties related to employee information and learning and development. A Competency system can work with an existing HRMS to continue this improvement and augment functionality of skills tracking and performance management, for regulated and non-regulated industries.

By taking HR functions to the logical next step and proving an employee is competent to a role, regulated industry standards such as ISO and OSHA are addressed. This makes recurring audits and inspections much easier – all employee certifications, past training, education, and skills are already in a software system. To get started with this, read how to implement competency-based methodology into your organization.

And for organizations that want to improve their workforce, competency software does this by standardizing requirements and nomenclature companywide.

CABEM’s Competency Manager

If you have made it this far and see a value in adding competency software to your current HR Suite, CABEM Technologies’ Competency Manager (CMGR) satisfies all of these needs. It is designed with ISO quality systems, EHS, HR, and other regulated industries in mind. We have worked closely with quality consultants, HR personnel, and safety managers to ensure that it covers everything you will need to capture employee competencies and effectively fulfill them as necessary to your organization. The CMGR allows you to replicate company structure as well as develop, prove, and maintain the competencies of each employee, whether by traditional trainings such as test-taking, or more advance methods such as performance assessments and indicators. If you think competency management can augment your HR needs, click the link to learn more about our CMGR or email us at to request a free demo.

How the 2012 Olympics Inspired ISO 20121

One of the newest ISO standards, developed in 2012, is called ISO 20121. It is the event-management standard, and it assists organizations in producing events that do not have unintended negative social, economic, or environmental impacts. It can bring a number of benefits to events of any size, including clarity of purpose and strategy, more efficient and integrated management, and a more unified system for sustainability.

All organized events will undoubtedly affect the environment around them, hopefully in good ways, but potentially in negative ways as well. From something small such as local charity events to something as large-scale as the Olympics, there are effects that should be accounted and planned for.

This gets more complicated and important in large scale events, where disruption to city infrastructure, water resource depletion, increased air pollution, and any number of other impacts need to be taken into consideration. ISO 20121 has put in place a formal management standard for conducting events in the most responsible way possible.

David Stubbs and BS 8901:2007

David Stubbs was the Head of Sustainability for the London Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG). After winning the Olympic bid back in 2005, he was planning unique ways to make the upcoming U.K. Olympics as environmentally-friendly as possible, according to the Guardian.

He brought his ideas to the British Standards Institution (BSI), a U.K. standards organization similar to ISO, which led to the creation of BS 8901 in 2007, the first voluntary event-management standard. Revised in 2009, the standard provided requirements and processes for organizing sustainable events – a precursor to ISO 20121. It was very popular, and used by organizations large and small – in 2009 Microsoft even earned the first ever US certification for its Convergence event in New Orleans, according to Environmental Leader.

From BS 8901 to ISO 20121

Due to the standard’s success and universal praise, leaders such as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark called for a global standard in the vein of BS 8901. A proposal for such a standard was submitted to ISO by the national standards organizations for the U.K. (BSI) and Brazil (ABNT), according to Tourism Review.

More than 30 countries helped create the standard. Fiona Pelham, Chair of the team who developed it said of ISO 20121, “The development process has been led by members of the event industry from around the world who have experience of event management and sustainability leadership initiatives.”

The standard was finished in time for the Olympic Games, which earned one of the first certifications for ISO 20121: 2012 and became a shining example of its benefits.

ISO 20121
The London Games were one the most sustainable ever.

ISO 20121 and the Olympics

According to an ISO interview with David Stubbs, his plan for the Olympic Games was based on five sustainability themes, which were:

  1. Climate change
  2. Waste
  3. Biodiversity
  4. Inclusion
  5. Healthy living

and his priority issues were:

  1. Carbon management to deliver a low-carbon Games
  2. Delivering a zero-waste Games
  3. Providing sustainable and accessible transport solutions
  4. Using the Games to showcase the economic benefits of sustainability
  5. Promoting sustainable living by making sustainability a visible part of the Games
  6. Ensuring the Olympic Park legacy contributes to the regeneration of communities in east London

The U.K. Olympic Games were a huge success in sustainable event management, and Stubbs was able to accomplish many of his goals, including the overall mission of proving that events on a large scale can be both environmentally friendly, and profitable too. The International Olympic Committee reported that the LOCOG earned 2.41 billion pounds through private sector revenue in its eight years, more than its cost.

Commenting on use of the new ISO standard, Stubbs said “The benefit of the management system is that it gives you a structured approach to addressing sustainability aspects,” and went on to say that “Sustainability can achieve significant cost savings through resource efficiency, but it is hard to realize these without having a proper management system.”

About 99% of waste created during construction of the Olympic Park was able to be reused. In addition, the Olympic Games were the first zero-waste-to-landfill Games. The Games sustainability successes included 18% of the workforce being local to the borough, including 10% being previously unemployed (targets were 15% and 7% respectively). New venues were only built when necessary for the activities, and in the case of the Velodrome, one cable-net roof built saved 1,000 tons of steel and accounted for 27% carbon savings over the original design. The water conservation initiatives were successful as well, all homes in the Olympic Village accounted for 105 liters a day, compared to the 144 a day average.

The Commission for a Sustainable London, the independent organization created to report on the success of the Games’ environmental initiatives, said “Our post-Games report concluded that London 2012 has been the most sustainable Games ever.”

ISO 20121 in Other Events and the Future

With the success of ISO 20121 in the Olympic Games, many other organizations from very different industries realized the benefits of the new standard. The Danish Foreign Ministry is certified to ISO 20121, and in 2012 conducted over 100 meetings with initiatives such as a ban on bottled water (only tap water was served), and all electricity being generated from wind turbines.

The standard continues to help organizers on a large or small scale to conduct events in a sustainable way, by using a coherent and structured management approach, as opposed to multiple and sometimes conflicting green initiatives.

In regards to the impact the U.K. Olympic Games will have on environmentally-conscious events in the future, Stubbs said “London 2012 is proud to have been the catalyst for ISO 20121. This is a piece of legacy with the potential to transform how events around the world consider their economic, environmental and social impacts.”

ISO 20121 has been an impactful addition to the ISO family and for the events industry in general, proving once again how certifying to an ISO standard can benefit an organization. To learn about other standards, read our article on the Top 10 ISO Standards.

Trained Vs. Competent Employees

On the job training is an essential part of a company’s employee development process. Whether it’s new hire onboarding, annual renewals, or equipment training, it is crucial that your employees not only complete the training but understand the material and perform to your expectations in the field.

While training is a necessary step, it may not be enough to prove competence and ensure peace of mind. In today’s world of regulations and standards it is no longer enough to simply train your workforce. Organizations must establish an employee development program that addresses each layer of job expectations and proves competency to those requirements, not only training to them, to guarantee your workforce is prepared and confident.

Traditional Training Methods

With the advancement of technology we’ve seen an incredible improvement in the process of delivering employee trainings. What once consisted mainly of in person demonstrations and paper assessments has evolved to encompass an unlimited range of options. From virtual classrooms to interactive evaluations, there is no doubt the world of training has become more accessible, diverse, and inclusive than ever before.

The introduction of LMS software (Learning Management Systems) completely changed the game in terms of efficiency and accountability in employee development. It became easier to create, organize, and assign trainings, materials and assessments to large groups of employees at once. Tracking and monitoring employee progress also became much easier with the ability to view data in one place. The capability to automate and centralize all training related information gave HR and managers more flexibility and free time to focus on other job responsibilities. It allowed organizations to account for a wider variety of learning styles and train employees how they want to learn best.

LMS or competency management
Training is important, but must be paired with competency management to create the best workforce.

Training Misconceptions

While LMS’ have provided more capability and flexibility to the training process, it seems the thinking behind employee training itself has not adapted at the same pace.  Many companies use an LMS as a standalone method to training, creating courses or modules with corresponding assessments. Some still use the more traditional classroom learning method, only in a virtual environment instead of physical. The problem with this kind of approach to employee learning is that it can only account for the material covered in the classes.

After a training, employees are expected to retain that learned information and apply it appropriately on the job. Not to discredit the importance of training as it provides the information and conceptual knowledge needed to perform a job, but classroom or online trainings often fail to address the skills development necessary in the field and in practical application. Overlooking skills training or failing to thoroughly track progress can lead to incompetencies in your employees and gaps in your workforce. The actual training is a necessary step, but there are often multiple steps for employees to be fully competent and confident in the job they will perform. In the case of regulated industries that have safety and quality concerns this becomes even more important.

What it Means to Be Competent Vs. Being Trained

In recent years, the idea of competency management has become increasingly popular in various industries. According to Peter Holtmann, “Competency is best described as the demonstration of acquired skills against an expected outcome.” The difference between being trained and being competent is that a competent employee has completed a set of requirements and can perform to expectations in the field consistently.  Typically, a trained employee has only completed one component of a potential competency model. In another article we outline how competency management improves Learning Management System trainings. That is not to say all trained employees are incompetent, but it is far more difficult to track and prove competence based solely on trainings.

Competency is achieved through the combination of multiple levels of knowledge acquisition. This could include training courses, prior education, skills development and more. It takes time, effort, and dedication to become competent, but the payoff is well worth it. Greater efficiency and effectiveness, improved quality, and lower costs can all result from prioritizing competency over training programs alone.

The Price of Incompetence

Every business knows that in order to succeed you must have a qualified and diligent workforce supporting all business operations. Incompetence is never taken lightly and certainly not ignored once identified. But unfortunately, it can be difficult to identify and address in a timely manner especially without an established competency framework.

When incompetence goes unnoticed, your business and your people are at risk. Whether it’s risk of failing an audit, unsatisfactory production, or injury, there are always consequences.. In addition to greater risk, there is the chance that your business processes will be less efficient and more expensive. Incompetent employees are less able to perform to expectations, meaning their work is likely costing you more in all areas.

Whether looking to improve your training processes, create a more efficient workforce, or reduce long-term costs, proper and deliberate competency modeling can help. Investing the time and resources into establishing a competency based employee development program will guide your organization to success.

We designed and built the Competency Manager software application to specifically to address these common challenges in employee training. Whether integrated into your existing LMS or used as a standalone solution, the Competency Manager can help track and prove employee competencies, onboard new hires, and keep records and documentation organized. Click here to learn more, and to request a demo, email us at

The History of the ISO 9000 Series

Brief History of ISO

ISO, or the International Organization for Standardization, is “the world’s largest developer of voluntary International Standards.” Organizations can comply with these standards in order to increase efficiency and productivity, as well as gain access to new and more diverse markets. Companies that are ISO certified are more appealing to vendors and consumers because this ensures that their products and services are safe and efficient, and that there is an approved standard in place for their processes.

The organization is made up of members from more than 160 countries. It officially began operations in 1946 and since then has published over 19,500 International Standards for a variety of industries including technology, manufacturing, health, and environmental. Of the many standards published by the organization throughout the years, the ISO 9000 family is one of the most well-known and widely implemented in the world. The ISO 9000 series focuses on Quality Management and has undergone many revisions and improvements over the years. If you’re interested in learning about other popular ISO standards, read our article on the top 10.

The Beginning of ISO 9000

The roots of the ISO 9000 series date back to World War II, when the Ministry of Defense in Britain decided to implement a set of standards to reduce mistakes and the resulting accidents in the manufacturing of munitions. The standards focused on the management of procedures rather than the actual manufacturing. Focusing on management meant that the MoD would first inspect the procedures used during manufacturing, and then inspect the manufactured product to ensure consistency in quality. This is similar today in how a company or organization must be audited by a certification body to ensure quality and consistency.

The MoD standards revealed the need for a system of quality assurance standards that was applicable to more industries than defense alone. Up until the 1970s in the UK, it was the vendor’s responsibility to inspect the credentials of their suppliers to ensure quality and consistency. And according to the British Assessment Bureau, a well known and trusted certification board, this was proving to be a major waste of time and money. In 1969 a Government committee recommended that “suppliers methods should be assessed against a generic standard of quality assurance.”

In response to this, the British Standards Institution published the world’s first management systems quality standard, the BS 5750, in 1979. This new standard provided “a common contractual document, demonstrating that industrial production was controlled.” The BS 5750 replaced individual industry standards and guaranteed quality and consistency to all consumers across all industries in the UK.

A whitepaper on standards released by the UK Government on Standards popularized this need in the US, leading to ISO 9000:1987, the international equivalent to BS 5750. Due to its original Military background, the language and main points of this first edition made it more suitable for manufacturing processes. However, the structure of the document with its 20 requirements led to a greater focus on conforming to procedures rather than the management process as a whole.

Over 1 Million companies certify to ISO 9001

Modifications Throughout the Years

The ISO 9000 document has undergone many revisions since it’s beginning to ensure that it is as efficient and relevant as possible. Its first revision was in 1994, this review focused on trying to clear up the indistinct elements of the 1987 version as well as place a greater concentration on quality assurance through preventative actions. It also maintained its requirement for verification of compliance with documented practices.

One of the most significant and successful revisions thus far came about in 2000. The British Assessment Bureau reported that the new version, ISO 9001:2000, made it very obvious that process management was the main goal of the standard. The idea had always intended to be “a documented system” rather than “a system of documents” but that idea wasn’t especially clear in the previous versions. With the 2000 revision these concepts became the main focus of the standard, demanding to have “management system effectiveness via process performance measures.”

This reduced the importance of having documented procedures if there was strong evidence showing that the process was working well. The ISO 9001:2000 version combined the previous ISO 9001, 9002, and 9003 versions into one and introduced a new set of eight core quality management principles that consist of:

  1. Customer focus
  2. Leadership
  3. Involvement of people
  4. Process approach
  5. System approach to management
  6. Continual improvement
  7. Factual approach to decision making
  8. Mutually beneficial supplier relationships

The idea behind these principals is for them to act as a foundation that will help guide an organization towards improved performance and productivity.

The standard underwent another revision in 2008. This revision remained fairly consistent with the 2000 version. The main objective during this modification was to clarify the existing requirements and to design the document to work in congruence with ISO’s other management standards such as ISO 14001:2004. The eight core quality management principals remained relevant in the ISO 9000: 2008 version of the standard.

The Current Standard

The most current version of the standard is ISO 9001:2015, completed and released towards the end of 2015. The most significant change to ISO 9001 is that the entire document is now focused around the idea of risk-based thinking; making risk management a central feature of the standard.

The new version updated the format of the document to a high-level structure referred to as Annex SL, soon all management system standards will adhere to this structure. The update also included some revised terminology to make the document more generic. This will help to include all industries as well as recognize changes in technology and the way business is done. An emphasis on leadership and increased flexibility regarding documentation are other notable changes in the 2015 revision.

The Future of ISO 9001

ISO 9001 is the only standard in the ISO 9000 family that can be certified to, and it can be applied by any and all organizations, large or small. It is the most common ISO standard, with over one million companies and organizations in over 170 countries that currently implement it.

We have developed performance management software after years of working with expert consultants and auditors in ISO-certified industries. In order to remain compliant to an ISO standard, employees must be fully competent to their roles. To learn more about our software the Competency Manager and how it can help your organization produce fully skilled employees, request a demo.

The ISO 9000 series continues to be the shining example of the benefits certifying to an ISO standard can afford an organization. There are many industry-specific standards, but no matter what sector your business or organization is in, it is likely that you can benefit from an ISO 9001 certification.