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As a part of my quality improvement activities, I wanted to fix some of the issues in our company (like contracts not being stored properly). I thought there will be a clear requirement/clause in ISO 9001, but I could not find anything relevant that I could use as a reference to our management. Would anyone who knows this standard be able to advise?

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Clause 8.2.1 defines contracts as one element of the broader topic of customer communication. 8.2.3.1 includes reviewing the contract before committing to an agreement to supply products and services. Depending on the contents of the contract, it may be an input containing requirements to the design process. A contract is not explicitly listed in 8.3.3, but I've seen contracts with process requirements in them, either directly or by reference to statutes, regulations, or standards (which are explicitly mentioned in 8.3.3).

Clause 4.4.2 requires that the organization shall "retain documented information to have confidence that the processes are being carried out as planned". Retaining the contract (along with communications about or redlines to the contract) seems to be an easy and straightforward way to demonstrate that contracts are reviewed prior to agreements to supply the products and services and when the contract differs from a previous version (8.2.3.1).

Given those clauses, contracts would likely be documented information that support the "planning and operation of the quality management system", 7.5.3 regarding the control of documented information would apply and the organization would likely be expected to have control over distribution, access, retrieval, use, storage, change control, retention, and disposition of documents.

Unfortunately, ISO doesn't get into the goodness of a process. It's more about following a fairly consistent process and being able to provide evidence of it. I'm sure that an organization can define ways to control documents and records that check all of the boxes of ISO 9001 but would result in what I would consider to be improper control.

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  • Thank you! One additional thing - I have seen many contracts stores just with the customer signature (not ours), which formally is not correct. However, I am unable to map it into any specific ISO clause
    – John V
    Jul 29 at 10:24
  • @JohnV I don't think ISO 9001 will get into that level of detail. ISO 9001 is more about having and following a process, rather than having and following a good process. If your process is that your organization doesn't have to sign the contract before accepting it, then it should pass the baseline for ISO 9001 requirements because you do what you say you do and have evidence of it.
    – Thomas Owens
    Jul 29 at 11:05

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