Annex SL

by Pretesh Biswas, APB Consultant

Annex SL


Annex SL is not a standard, but rather a guide to help  standards developers write  management systems standards. It forms part of the ‘ISO Directives, Part 1 — Consolidated ISO Supplement — Procedures specific to ISO document, which is currently in its 6th edition. ISO has over the years published many management system standards for topics ranging from quality and environment to information security, business continuity management and records management. Despite sharing common elements, ISO management system standards come in many different shapes and structures. The guide was developed in response to standard users criticism that while current standards have many common components, they are not sufficiently aligned, making it difficult for organizations to rationalize their systems and to interface and integrate them. This, in turn, results in some confusion and difficulties at the implementation stage .Many organisations have implemented  multiple management system standards such as ISO 9001 along with ISO 14001 and ISO 18001, or ISO 9001 along with ISO 27001 and ISO 20000 or ISO 9001 along with TS 16949.  This has led to the need to easily combine or integrate them in an effective and efficient manner. To date subtle and not so subtle differences in requirements and terminology across Management Standard System  have made such integration difficult. ISO has produced Annex SL with the objective of delivering consistent and compatible management system standards in an attempt to make this process easier. Annex SL describes the framework for a generic management system. However, it will require the addition of discipline-specific requirements to make a fully functional quality, environmental, service management, food safety, business continuity, information security and energy  management system standard. Annex SL is freely available; it is contained within the ISO Supplement, Procedures specific to ISO.

In future all new management system standards will have the same overall ‘look and feel’. Current management system standards will migrate during their next revision. This should be completed within the next few years. For management system implementers this will provide an overall management system framework within which they can pick and choose what discipline-specific standards they wish to include. Gone will be the conflicts and duplication, confusion and misunderstanding arising from different management system standards. In future all ISO management system standards should be consistent and compatible. For management system auditors, it will mean that for all audits there will be a core set of generic requirements that need to be addressed no matter which discipline is being examined.


The HLS (High Level Structure) is the outcome of the work of the ISO/TMB/JTCG ‘Joint technical Coordination Group on MSS’.
The structure has been mandated by the ISO TECHNICAL MANAGEMENT BOARD (TMB) (based on ISO/TMB Resolution 18/2012) and the belief is that this will enhance consistency, make it
more generic and more easily applicable to service industries. Accordingly, ISO 9001:2015 has adopted this. The HLS is based on published information related to Annex SL and not directly the result of any particular published study or survey. ‘The aim of the HLS is to enhance the consistency and alignment of ISO MSS by providing a unifying and agreed upon high level structure, identical core text and common terms and definitions. The aim being that all ISO Type A MSS (Requirements) and Type B where appropriate (Guidance) are aligned and the compatibility of these standards is enhanced. It is envisaged that individual MSS will add additional ‘discipline-specific’ requirements as required. The intended audience of this HLS is the ISO Technical Committees (TC), Subcommittees (SC) and Project Committees (PC) and others involved in the development of MSS.'(SL 9.1). This approach is intended to increase value of such standards to users: particularly those operating multiple MSS simultaneously contained within one MSS (Integrated) The HLS forms the nucleus of future and revised ISO Type ‘A’ MSS and Type ‘B’ MSS (where possible). The primary intention is for organizations to have one management system (ISO supports this approach). Annex SL, Appendix 2 will make it easier to work with more than one management.system standard simultaneously; as it has standardized terminology and requirements for fundamental Management Systems and provides a l0-clause high-level structure, common definitions and text for all management system standards. Annex SL addresses the requirements for proposals for management system standards. It consists of 9 clauses and 3 appendices. The audience for this annex is primarily ISO technical committees who develop management system standards; however the impact of Appendix 2 of Annex SL will be felt by all users of management system standards in the future. Appendix 2 is in three parts:

• high level structure,
• identical core text,
• common terms and core definitions.

In future all management system standards will need to have these elements. In addition, there will be less confusion and inconsistency because common terms will all have the same definition and there will be common requirements across all the management system standards, for example the requirement to establish, implement, maintain and continually improve the management system. So what changes can and cannot be made? The high level structure (i.e. major clause numbers and titles) cannot be changed, however sub-clauses can be added. Discipline-specific text can also be added;

for example:
• new bullets
• discipline-specific explanatory text (e.g. Notes or Examples)
• discipline-specific new paragraphs to sub-clauses
• adding text that enhances (but does not modify)  the existing requirements

The common terms and core definitions cannot be changed. However, terms and definitions may be added as needed and Notes may be added or modified to serve the purpose of each standard. To facilitate the adoption of the core text the device ‘XXX’ is used. Throughout Annex SL for ‘XXX’ the appropriate reference needs to be inserted; for example in ISO 22000 ‘XXX’ needs to be replaced by “food safety” and in ISO 14001 the ‘XXX’ needs to be replaced by “environmental”. In addition the term discipline is used to describe the nature of the management system i.e. quality, environmental, service management, food safety, business continuity, information security or energy.

This Annex applies to all Management System Standards – full ISO standards, Technical Specifications (TS) and Publicly Available Specifications (PAS) – but not to International Workshop  Agreements (IWA). Examples of standards that it applies to are:

  • ISO 14001:2004 Environmental management systems – Requirements with guidance for use.
  •  ISO/TS 16949:2009 Quality management systems – Particular requirements for the application of ISO 9001:2008 for automotive production and relevant service part organisations

Examples of standards that it does not apply to are:

  • ISO 19011:2011 Guidelines for auditing management systems
  • IWA 2:2007 Quality management systems – Guidelines for the application of ISO 9001:2000 in education.

High level structure

The major clause numbers and titles of all management system standards will be identical They are:


1. Scope
2. Normative references
3. Terms and definitions
4. Context of the organisation
5. Leadership
6. Planning
7. Support
8. Operation
9. Performance evaluation
10. Improvement.

Example of identical definitions:

  • Organization
  • Interested party
  • Policy
  •  Objective
  •  Competence
  •  Conformity

Example of identical requirements:

  •  “Establish, implement, maintain and continually improve the management system.”
  • “Top management shall ensure that the responsibilities and authorities for relevant roles are assigned and communicated within the organization.”

The Introduction, Scope and Normative references will have content that are specific to each discipline and each standard can have its own bibliography. Overall there is a reorganizing of management system requirements into this structure that may be unfamiliar to those using and assessing current MSS. However, some management system  standards (such as ISO 22301:2012 Societal security – Business continuity management systems – Requirements) have already successfully migrated to this new structure.

For management system auditors, it will mean that for all audits there will be a core set of generic requirements that need to be addressed, no matter which discipline. There are subtle language changes such as the change from document and records to documented information. The new text recognizes the use of the broad concept of risk and the need to understand risk in the context of the management system. It also encourages everyone to view preventive action as a broader concept than simply preventing an incident from occurring. The term preventive action has been replaced with “actions to address, risks and opportunities” and features earlier in the standard. The concept of preventive actions is very much embedded in the risk assessment. The new HLS does not require an organization to renumber existing documents’

Identical core text

There are 45 “shall” statements (generating 84 requirements) in Annex SL Appendix 2, therefore there must be at least 45 “shall” statements with 84 requirements in all future management system standards. Obviously each discipline will have their own requirements, so the total for any new standard will have more – this is the minimum.

The detailed content is:

1. Scope

The Scope should define what the ‘intended outcome(s)’ are of the discipline. The term ‘expected outcome’ will not be used. Auditors should expect alignment between what the organisation has determined in clause 4 with what is stated here.The scope sets out the intended outcomes of the management system. The outcomes are industry specific and should be aligned with the context of the organization

Clause 2: Normative references

Provides details of the reference standards or publications relevant to the particular standard.

Clause 3: Terms & definitions

Details terms and definition applicable to the specific standard in addition to any formal related terms and definitions standard.

4. Context of the organisation

4.1 Understanding the organisation and its context
4.2 Understanding the needs and expectations of interested parties
4.3 Determining the scope of the XXX management system
4.4 XXX management system

As the flagstone of a management system, clause 4 determines why the organization is here. As part of the answer to this question, the organization needs to identify internal and external issues that can impact on its intended outcomes, as well as all interested parties and their requirements. It also needs to document its scope and set the boundaries of the management system – all in line with the business objectives. At first glance, clause 4 is radical and daunting, but on further consideration it makes sense in practice. The organisation will have already have completed this thinking before even considering  implementing any ISO management system. This is the flagstone of the management system – why the organisation is here. The organisation needs to determine its relevant issues, both inside and outside, that have an impact on what it is trying to achieve, its intended outcomes. Also, who are the relevant interested parties (the preferred term to stakeholders) and what are their requirements? The organisation needs to determine and document its own scope where are the boundaries of the management system?, what’s in and what’s out? This must be needs to be appropriate to the organisation and it objectives. Finally, the organisation needs to build, operate and improve its management system; nothing new or difficult there. The issues and requirements identified here will be addressed in clause 6 – Planning. Auditors should now have a clear and concise list of objective evidence to identify and confirm. It will include the organisations goals and intended outcomes, internal and external issues, the relevant stakeholders and their requirements and the management system scope. Collectively this will provide a key insight into the organisation. This should not be just a tick-list, but the entirety will provide a key insight into the organisation – it should provide illumination and clarity.

5. Leadership

5.1 Leadership and commitment
5.2 Policy
5.3 organisational roles, responsibilities and authorities

The new high level structure places particular emphasis on leadership, not just management as set out in previous standards. This means top management now has greater accountability and involvement in the organization’s management system. They need to integrate the requirements of the management system into the organization’s core business process, ensure the management system achieves its intended outcomes and allocate the necessary resources. Top management is also responsible for communicating the importance of the management system and heighten employee awareness and involvement.

At first glance, clause 5 appears to be just a reiteration of what’s gone before –policy, organisational roles, responsibilities and authorities etc. However, there is an emphasis on  leadership, not just management. On further examination there is more here; top management now have to have a greater involvement in the management system. They have to make sure that the requirements of the management system are integrated into the organisation’s business processes – the management system is not just a bolt-on. The ‘business’ is whatever activities are at the heart of the organisation’s reason for existing. In addition, they have to demonstrate their commitment by making sure that the management system achieves its intended outcome(s) and has adequate resources. Additionally they have to inform everyone that management system is important and that everyone should participate in its effective implementation. The involvement of top management in the  management system is now explicit and hands-on. The ‘XXX’ policy has also been strengthened. It has to include commitments to satisfy applicable requirements and continually improve the management system. As well as being communicated  internally it has to be made available to interested parties. Auditors should now find it easier to audit management commitment – the requirements are much more specific and tangible and the evidence required should be more obvious.


6.1 Actions to address risks and opportunities
6.2 XXX objectives and planning to achieve them

Clause 6 brings risk-based thinking to the front. Once the organization has highlighted risks and opportunities in clause 4, it needs to stipulate how these will be addressed through planning. The planning phase looks at what, who, how and when these risks must be addressed. This proactive approach replaces preventative action and reduces the need for corrective actions later on. Particular focus is also placed on the objectives of the management system. These should be measurable, monitored, communicated, aligned to the policy of the management system and updated when needed.

After much deliberation, the decision to make risk explicit has been made – here it is in clause 6. Having highlighted the issues and requirements in clause 4, now it is time to address the risks and opportunities the organisation faces through planning. How will the organisation prevent, or reduce, undesired effects? How will the organisation ensure that it can achieve its intended outcomes and continual improvement? It will do it here in planning. Planning will address what, who, how and when. Not difficult. This proactive approach is easier to understand than preventive action and should reduce the need for correction and corrective action at a later date. The requirements around the ‘XXX’ objectives have also been made more detailed. They are to be consistent with the ‘XXX’ policy, measurable (if practicable), monitored, communicated, and updated as appropriate. They have to be established at relevant functions and levels. Clause 6 puts a greater emphasis on the organisation’s XXX’ planning which is integral to the business. Auditors should be familiar with risk – the consequences of an event and the associated likelihood of occurrence – and how to avoid, eliminate, minimize or mitigate it. They also need to focus on the positive aspect – opportunities for the business and how to optimize them. The risks and opportunities identified will lead to policies and objectives. Auditors should be able to identify and follow a clear path from issues and requirements through risks and opportunities, policies and objectives.

7. Support

7.1 Resources
7.2 Competence
7.3 Awareness
7.4 Communication
7.5 Documented information
7.5.1 General
7.5.2 Creating and updating
7.5.3 Control of documented information

After addressing the context, commitment and planning, organizations will have to look at the support needed to meet their goals and objectives. This includes resources, targeted internal and external communications, as well as documented information that replaces previously used terms such as documents, documentation and records. The organisation needs to supply competent resource to deliver its goods and services. Again, nothing new here, awareness has been strengthened so now everyone needs to know the implications of not conforming to the management system requirements. The organisation needs to consider the need for both internal and external communications relevant to the management system – what, when and with whom it will communicate. The final support requirement is going to generate a lot of heat but not much light – documented  information. Gone are the terms documents, documentation and records. However the requirements for the management of documented information are not new, exceptional or excessive. One skeleton which is finally laid to rest is the idea that everyone needs work instructions no matter how experienced or senior they are in the organisation (check out the Note in clause 7.5.1). Auditing awareness and communication should be easier; the requirements are crisper – the 3 W’s. Again, auditors should find the consistent definition of and requirements for competence a benefit. Auditors will need to understand and use the term ‘documented information’. Although there will be a lot of confusion and misunderstanding as everyone transitions from the old terms, in the long run auditors should benefit from the greater clarity and consistency.

8. Operation

8.1 Operational planning and control

The bulk of the management system requirements lies within this single clause. Clause 8 addresses both in-house and outsourced processes, while the overall process management includes adequate criteria to control these processes, as well as ways to manage planned and unintended change.Whatever the organisation is in business to achieve, clause 8 is it. At its core, the organisation needs to “…plan, implement and control the processes needed…”. This addresses both inhouse and any outsourced processes. This overall process management includes having process criteria, controlling the processes within the criteria, controlling planned change and addressing unintended change as necessary. This is the shortest clause because this is where the bulk of each discipline – the ‘XXX’ – requirements will be. It is also where the need for a discipline-specific management system model will come from. So where will all the requirements go that don’t fall easily into the High level Structure and Identical core text? For example in ISO 9001:2008 7.3.4 Design and development review and in ISO 14001: 2004  4.4.7 Emergency preparedness and response. Whatever is at the heart of the ‘XXX’ management system – ‘the business’ – then this is what goes into clause 8. The auditor will have to have a good understanding of process management before getting involved in assessing the discipline-specific requirements. This is where an understanding of the business context of clause 4 will bear fruit – the sharp end of the business operations.

9. Performance evaluation

9.1 Monitoring, measurement, analysis and evaluation
9.2 Internal audit
9.3 Management review

Having “done the business” in clause 8 it is time to check performance. The usual suspects appear here. The organisation determines what, how and when things are to be monitored, measured, analysed and evaluated. Add internal audit and management review to the mix and everything expected is addressed. Internal audits provide information on whether the management system conforms to the requirements of the organisation and the standard and is effectively implemented and maintained. Management review addresses the question: ‘is the management system suitable, adequate and effective?’ Once again, the auditor should benefit from a consistent set of requirements for checking results against plan. There is a long list of objective evidence that can be identified and confirmed: metrics, schedules, evaluations, nonconformities and corrective actions, monitoring and measurement results, and audit and management review results.

10. Improvement

10.1 Nonconformity and corrective action
10.2 Continual improvement

Occasionally undesired things occur; now it’s time to address nonconformity and corrective action. And to make things better there’s continual improvement. The requirements here are familiar and well understood. But what about preventive action? It does not appear. As some have argued for many years, one of the objectives of a management system is preventive action. The requirements in clause 4.1 to “…determine external and internal issues that are relevant to its purpose and that affect its ability to achieve the intended outcome(s) of its XXX management system” and in clause 6.1 to “determine the risks and opportunities that need to be addressed to assure the XXX management system can achieve its intended outcome(s); prevent, or reduce, undesired effects; achieve continual improvement.” not only address preventive action but go beyond. And in the end auditors will look back at the management system established in clause 4.4, reviewed in clause 9.3 and now continually improved. Finally, although there remains a requirement for processes (check out clause 4.4) there is no mention anywhere of procedures, documented or otherwise. If a discipline considers that they are required then they will appear in the ‘XXX’ standard, probably in clause 8 – Operations. However, if they are not a requirement but the organisation themselves consider they need them then that will be their decision

pdf Annex SL- ISO /ICE Directive Part 1- Consolidated ISO supplement

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If you need assistance or have any doubt and need to ask any question  contact me at:  or call Pretesh Biswas at +919923345531. You can also contribute to this discussion and I shall be happy to publish them. Your comment and suggestion is also welcome.