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Compare ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 13485:2016

Since ISO 13485:2016 is based upon ISO 9001:2008, there are differences between the two standards. Some companies are interested in integrating both Quality Management Standards into their business and therefore it is important to compare ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 13485:2016. 

There are many differences and similarities between ISO 9001 and ISO 13485 and many companies are curious what they are. Since these are the two biggest quality standards and many organizations have certification to both standards we wanted to thoroughly address the differences and similarities.  ISO 9001:2015 changes to a new high level structure unlike ISO 13485:2016, making the two standards fork, going their own way. This divergence has caused a lot of organizations concerned on how to implement these two standards together. Understanding the differences and similarities make this process easier.

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Compare ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 13485:2016 Quality Management Systems


Although there are obvious difference within the structure of the requirement, the overall requirements does not have as distinct of differences. The new structure was developed a common structure for ISO standards and to create terminology with simplified language. ISO 13485 decided not to follow the structure and was granted an exemption to help member countries.

Required Processes

ISO 13485 maintains the requirements to document key processes and related documentation in a quality manual. ISO 9001 has changed this requirement and is more flexible, allowing each organization to decide the documentation information that needs to be required to be maintained.

Management Responsibilities

ISO 9001 allows top management to assign responsibilities without defining roles, ISO 13485 has made it a requirement to identify  management representative.

Product Realization

ISO 13485:2016 emphasizes on design and development as a key process within product realization. ISO 9001:2015 shifted product realization onto the identification of operational processes to deliver products. ISO 9001:2015 is more focused on customer needs rather than the documentation of the design and development.

Continual Improvement

ISO 9001 focuses continual improvement on on customer satisfaction and the improvement of processes. ISO 13485  maintains the need to focus on improvement activities continuing suitability, adequacy and effectiveness of the quality management system and the safety and performance of the medical device.

Similarities between ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 13485:2016

  • Reason for using- both aim to achieve a quality management system
  • Role of organization-Both make the organization define their role as an organization
  • Customer focused- both focus on product realization and the need of the customer.
  • Plan-Do-Check Act- both standards use this approach
  • Risk Based- both standards advocate for risk assessments
  • Competency- Both standards focus on competency of employees, making companies ensure that their employees are able to do the job they are assigned.
  • Infrastructure- Both standards focus on determining that the organization has the infrastructure necessary for their processes.

Overall, as organizations seek to implement both ISO 9001 and ISO 13485 into their organization it is important to understand the differences between the two. Comparing ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 13485:2016 allows for an easier integration. Management should seek to fully understand these two standards in order to work integrate them into their organization and improve their QMS.


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