To comply with the ISO 21001 educational organizations management system, organizations need to understand the needs and expectations of their interested parties. The article classifies who these interested parties are and how to communicate with them as per the guidance of ISO 21001.

One of the primary goals of the ISO 21001 educational organizations management system is serving and protecting the interests of the institution’s stakeholders.

ISO often refers to these stakeholders as interested parties. Interested parties are essential individuals or organizations that can be affected by the decisions or activities of your organization or affect the organization.

Clause 4.2 of ISO 21001 requires institutes to understand and meet the needs and expectations of these stakeholders.

Therefore, to achieve the ISO 21001 certification or follow its guidance to develop an effective EOMS, identifying interested parties is necessary.

Today’s article discusses the primary stakeholders of an educational institute and how to communicate with them according to ISO 21001.

So, keep reading!

Classification of Interested Parties in ISO 21001 Educational Organizations

Clause 4.2 of the ISO 21001 educational organizations management system standard makes it mandatory to identify all the parties relevant to your educational organization management system and their relevant requirements.

Here’s a classification of all the interested parties you must satisfy to comply with the standard.

• Learners, such as students, pupils, or apprentices,
• Regulatory bodies, such as the government, ministries of education, regional authorities, labor market, employers, unions, employee-representative, parents and guardians,
• Staff, such as permanent and temporary employees, volunteers, externally contracted individuals holding positions at your organization, and people who offer services to the organization without monetary benefits.
• Other stakeholders like competitive or collaborative educational organizations, media and society, shareholders, external providers, suppliers, alumni, sponsors, and commercial partners.

How to Communicate with the Identified Interested Parties?

The ISO 21001 educational organizations management system standard advises organizations to divide their interested parties into four categories based on their significance and level of involvement with the EOMS.

Based on this division, you may determine how, when, and where to communicate with the detected interested parties.

1. Involvement: These are your most valuable stakeholders who can directly participate in your decision-making processes, such as parents or partnered organizations.

To communicate with the most involved interested parties, you can hold meetings and support joint decision-making.

2. Representation: Nominated or appointed representatives can directly participate in your educational organization management system processes. Representative parties usually refer to a representative of students, such as the student committee leader, and staff, such as the staff union leader.

You shall communicate with the representatives through advisory boards and regularly scheduled meetings.

3. Consultation: These are the stakeholders that you may consult for decision-making but are not involved in the process. External providers and some employers may fall into this category.

ISO 21001 suggests communicating with consulted parties through surveys, interviews, analysis, public hearings, and workshops.

4. Checking: Your organization shall take notes from these parties regarding their position but not involve, consult, or represent them. These parties can be your competitors and some suppliers.

Desk research, analysis, and interviews are effective ways to communicate with these stakeholders.

Communication for Conveying Information

ISO 21001 educational organizations management system requirements mention different communication methods for different interested parties based on levels of engagement.

• Generic communication: This method includes personal meetings, individual phone calls or emails, and social media. You can use these communication means for all interested parties.
• Targeted communications: This communication method includes memorandums, internal magazines, websites, brochures, and pamphlets, directed at specific parties.
• Personalized communications: It’s a two-way communication process between particular stakeholders and the organization. This process usually takes place over mass media such as TV or newspapers.

Frequency of Communication with Interested Parties

The ISO 21001 standard requires companies to define the frequency of their communication with identified interested parties.

You can consider the following factors when defining this frequency.

• Before introducing new programs, services, or products,
• After issuing or approving any changes that can affect the interested parties,
• On a routine basis set by communication methods or agreed with stakeholders,
• After complaints from interested parties.

Receipt and Handling Feedback from Interested Parties for ISO 21001

Organizations should establish a function to receive and record information from interested parties.

Your method of recording should

• Identify the sender (unless it's anonymous),
• The date of when you received the communication,
• The subject of the feedback,
• The need for acting or not operating on the feedback,
• The concerned people who need to act on the feedback,
• Deadline for answering the stakeholder.

The standard also requires you to review the feedback and make necessary improvements to the EOMS.

Bottom Line

Identifying all interested parties related to your ISO 21001 educational organizations management system can be challenging. But you can make it easier by correctly classifying them and setting appropriate communication methods. Hopefully, the above article will help you achieve those goals.

Author's Bio: 

The author is a senior lead auditor from ISO 21001 in the US. He specifically performs external audits to help organizations check their ISO compliance.