Confused whether to take an ISO 9001:2015 Lead Auditor course or ISO 9001:2008 Lead Auditor & ISO 9001:2015 Transition Combo?

The most famous and popular standard of the world, ISO 9001:2008 is being replaced with ISO 9001:2015 edition.  ISO 9001:2015 was introduced in September 2015. ISO gives a timeline for the transition to 9001:2015, from its current edition (ISO 9001:2008) to be completed by September 2018. Till such time both the standards remain valid, coexists and remain in force.

Many professionals aspiring to develop their career as a QMS auditor are bit confused at this juncture whether to attend ISO 9001:2008 or ISO 9001 :2015 Auditor /Lead Auditor course.

TCB being an IRCA Approved Auditor Training organization and CQI/IRCA Approved Training Partner, we give this information for the benefit of aspiring auditors to make an informed decision. The situations could be as follows:

Question 1. You have successfully completed an ISO 9001:2008 Auditor/Lead Auditor Course and certificate is still valid for IRCA registration (within 3 years from the date of training) however you have not registered with IRCA as an auditor.

Answer 1. MSR:  Join IRCA approved ISO 9001:2015 Transition Auditor course (e.g. TCB Course Approval No. A18214) and apply for IRCA registration if interested for IRCA registration/Certification. You do not necessarily need to attend a full 5-day Auditor/Lead auditor course as per the new standard. You save time and money.

Question 2. If you have Successfully completed an ISO 9001:2008 and your certificate has expired (more than 3 years from the date of training), and you have not already registered with IRCA.

Answer 2. MSR: IRCA will not accept this certificate of successful completion as valid for IRCA registration. If you want IRCA registration, you need to attend a CQI-IRCA Approved Auditor /Lead Auditor course again as per ISO 9001:2015 (TCB course in Application for CQI -IRCA Approval).

The reason IRCA does not recognize your successful completion certificate after 3 years is that, If you are not involved in audit, and using the standard, it may be possible that you lost the knowledge and skill and unless you retool yourself, you will not be illegible for the certification. You need to update your knowledge and the skill for QMS Audits.

Question 3. If you have not yet attended any ISO 9001 auditor/Lead Auditor Training course so far and confused whether to join ISO 9001:2015 Auditor/Lead auditor course or a combination of ISO 9001:2008 and ISO 9001:2015 Transition Course.

Answer 3. MSR: Both are acceptable for IRCA registration, if you attend ISO 9001:2015 auditor training, you can directly apply for registration with IRCA. If you want to register yourself as ISO 9001:2015 auditor, IRCA will grant registration in applicable grade(Provisional, Auditor or Lead Auditor)  based on your audit experience.

If you attend IRCA Approved ISO 9001:2008 course, and apply for IRCA registration, you can get approval for ISO 9001:2008 which will remain valid through September 2018. IRCA may approve you in appropriate/Applicable grade based on other requirements of IRCA (e.g. Audit experience) auditor and once you complete IRCA Approved ISO 9001:2015 transition course, you will fulfill formal training requirement for IRCA registration for QMS ISO 9001:2015. Please refer TCB presentation on IRCA registration process and applicable grades based on your qualification and audit experience.

You have the following two options. It depends on your requirement whether you will be required to work exclusively for ISO 9001:2015 or both ISO 9001:2008 and ISO 9001:2015

Option 1: You may join ISO 9001: 2015 auditor/ lead auditor course approved by IRCA, if you want to work with (implement or Audit) ISO 9001:2015 standard only.

However, there is a limitation. You will not learn the requirement of ISO 9001:2008 which will remain valid till September 2018 and many organization’s may still continue their management system as per ISO 9001:2008 standard till September 2018.

Unless you gain this knowledge, you will not be able to audit ISO 9001:2008 standard effectively. Therefore, even if you attend ISO 9001:2015 standard auditor training program, you need to gain good knowledge of ISO 9001:2008 standard either by attending a course such as ISO 9001:2008 standard awareness and interpretation, or an internal auditor course or gain some working experience by working /auditing with a qualified and competent auditor performing ISO 9001:2008 audit .please be informed that there are significant difference for “Documentation” requirement as per ISO 9001:2008 and ISO 9001:2015 standards.

ISO 9001:2008 is a very robust and proven standard that specifies some degree of mandatory documentation (e.g. a Quality Manual, mandatory procedures for 6 clauses) which to our best opinion would remain still relevant and in most of the events, vast majority of the companies would continue to maintain some documentation such as quality manual and other procedures without which Quality management system implementation may not be consistent and very effective even though ISO 9001:2015 does require nor object to maintaining such documentation. The new standard leaves it to the organization to decide the level of documentation that they feel appropriate.

Option 2: You may join ISO 9001: 2008 auditor/ lead auditor course approved by IRCA and attend ISO 9001:2015 Transition Course subsequently.
In this approach you gain thorough understanding of both the standards, gain more meaningful insight and this knowledge and skills would be very valuable for an effective transition to the new standard both for implementation or audit. You would have a clearer understanding on why certain requirements of the earlier edition of the standard (ISO 9001:2008) has changed and significance of these changes in the new standard and how to audit them or facilitate a migration. You will know how the latest standard has evolved. Indeed, you will gain greater knowledge on the subject.

Question 4. What is our best suggestion and professional advice?

Answer 4.MSR:  My best suggestion is, if you are attending the QMS Auditor/Lead Auditor course in the very near future, say till end of 2017, I suggest you join ISO 9001:2008 and take a Transition course subsequently. You can audit both standard and this would be more pragmatic choice.
If you are joining say in 1st Quarter or 2nd Quarter or beginning, in 2018, you would mostly find new standard in use. If you are attending auditor training for the first time, then you should join ISO 9001:2015 Auditor/Lead Auditor course.

If you are an existing auditor with ISO 9001:2008 qualification, you will still need ISO 9001:2015 transition course to maintain IRCA registration.
About the author: Mr. M S Ray is the author of this article. Mr. Ray is the Managing Director of TCB who is an IRCA registered principal Auditor, with almost 25 years of experience in Management system audit and training. He is the developer of the course material for IRCA approved quality management system and Occupational Health & Safety Management System Auditor/ lead auditor training programs for TCB. If you have any further question, you may please email him directly in