We've previously covered Annex SL in the context of ISO standards currently undergoing the revision process, but Annex SL is such a significant aspect of the underlying philosophy behind ISO management system standards (MSS) that it deserves a post focusing on it alone. Annex SL serves to effectively, standardize standards. It provides a shared structure and common terms/definitions so that separate standards can be more readily used together. This simplifies the compliance process for the organization using it, as well third-party review. Additionally, it serves to unite standards released years apart with a persisting singular structure and shared definitions for intercompatibility.
This shared structure is as follows:
Clause 1 - Scope
Clause 2 - Normative references
Clause 3 - Terms and definitions
Clause 4 - Context of the organization
Clause 5 - Leadership
Clause 6 - Planning
Clause 7 - Support
Clause 8 - Operation
Clause 9 - Performance evaluation
Clause 10 - Improvement
Examples of identical definitions include:
Organization, interested party, policy, objective, competence, conformity.
Annex SL also pushes the modernization of ISO standards by addressing the interplay between documents/records and IT and the other tools available for their management in today's technological environment. Furthermore, Annex SL continues to modernize ISO standards by bringing the concept of risk to attention and threads an understanding of it through all parts of an organization rather than delegating and compartmentalizing it.
While many of the ISO management systems standards are already utilizing Annex SL, the upcoming release of ISO 9001 and 14001, two of the most widely used ISO standards, again pushes Annex SL to the forefront of considerations for organizations preparing for the change.