Examples of Internal and external issues in ISO standards

Internal and external issues in ISO standards

Clause 4.1 of most ISO management systems talks about the internal and external issues in ISO standards relating to an organization. These internal and external issues have to be defined in order to meet the requirement of this particular part of the ISO standard which relates to the understanding of the organization and its context.  it is important to understand that when talking about issues here we are not necessarily talking about problems but rather about factors. Things that can have an impact on the overall performance of the organization.

This blog explains how we have to identify these internal and external factors that have an impact on the strategic direction of the organization and the organization has to show how it is capable of meeting the results within its management system. 

This particular clause within this standard has three notes.  The first note explains that issues can be both positive and negative.  Secondly, it states that we can consider elements like legal,  technological,  competitive,  and other factors. Better notes talk about the fact that for an internal context, we can consider elements like the values culture and the performance of the organization.  And while these notes are essential, they do not tell us exactly what to do to meet the requirements of this clause. The most important thing we will need to do is a SWOT  analysis.

SWOT analysis for Internal and external issues in ISO standards

What is a SWOT analysis? A SWOT analysis talks about the strengths weaknesses opportunities and threats relating to an organization. 

The strengths and weaknesses relate to the internal issues of the organization while the opportunities and threats relate to the external issues of the organization.  Naturally, the strengths and opportunities are positive issues and weaknesses and threats are negative issues relating to your organization.

  • Strengths – These have to be positive elements for the organization that can be directly influenced 
  • Weaknesses – Things within your organization that are not strong enough to enable you to compete within your market
  • Opportunities – These are elements that could potentially be beneficial to the organization.  These are things that people outside of your organization are doing that can have a positive impact on your organization if you decide to take action on them
  • Threats – External realities that could have a negative impact on your organization unless you take the necessary mitigation elements

Case by Case Examples of Internal and external issues in ISO standards

When thinking about internal and external issues in ISO standards one has to consider that there are some elements that are common for most organizations and other elements that vary by industry.  In this article, we will go about different examples of internal industrial issues relating to ISO standards,. We are going to give examples relating to a manufacturing company and a professional services company.

Examples of external and internal issues for a manufacturing company

Some elements that you might want to consider for your manufacturing company when implementing clause 4.1 of an ISO Standard are the following:

Positive internal and external issues for a manufacturing company

As explained above when we are doing a SWOT Analysis positive elements are strengths and opportunities.  Strengths relate to positive internal issues and opportunities relate to external positive issues.


  •  the company might have experience management staff or a strong complement of up and coming and Engineers
  • A strong market share might be held by the company or it might own specific intellectual property rights that could be monetized in the future
  •  a high regard by customers with strong  reference which results in repeat business


  • Funding opportunities by the government to further invest in the operations and machinery
  • increased awareness of ISO certifications in the market resulting in having a better reputation through getting an ISO certification
  • Increased customer demand
  • Favorable interest rates

Negative internal and external issues for a manufacturing company 

When it comes to negative elements of examples of internal and external issues of a manufacturing company we are considering the weaknesses and threats.  weaknesses relate to internal issues and threats relate to external issues. 


  •  not having a large enough customer base but rather depending on a few customers
  •  having an aging top management without a strong succession plan
  •  having aging machinery and equipment and not having a plan on how to finance the purchase of the necessary new equipment to ensure the upkeep of your machinery
  •  little traceability in place which does not give you the ability to clearly identify the root cause of quality issues


  • Wars,  pandemics, natural disasters And other large scale catastrophic events
  • Not having enough supply of employees  for your industry within the  country
  • New competitors entering the market
  •  fluctuations and pricing of raw materials and shipping


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In the above examples of internal and external issues for the manufacturing company, one could observe that some of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats mentioned can be applied to different organizations and various industries.  Then there are some other elements that are only relevant for a manufacturing company. 


Examples of external and internal issues for a SERVICE company

When implementing Clause 4.1 in a management system for your service company, you might want to consider these examples for external and internal issues.

Positive internal and external issues for a SERVICE company


  • A large service offering with the potential to sell multiple services to the same client.
  • Experience the employees have been working with the company for a long time and know the processes inside and out.
  • A positive brand reputation amongst other professionals.
  • A strong network of people who pass clients and information that help the business to thrive.


  • An increased demand for your services through tighter legislation.
  • Technology advancements can have an impact on the scalability and internationalization of your business.
  • A high activity of mergers and acquisitions in your industry.

Negative internal and external issues for a SERVICE company


  • Not having accurate information about the time used by each person within the company for each client.
  • Not having the right data to manage the business and to drive improvements to your clients.
  • Not having a fast onboarding process for new employees joining the company resulting in delayed productivity from new recruits.


  • Increased third party costs; Such as insurance,  software,  or other key components to the operational elements of your business
  • Tighter regulation and compliance within your industry restricting you from operating efficiently
  • Bureaucratic governmental entities slowing your business down


Once again, it is evident that some of these examples of internal and external issues for the service company can also be used for a manufacturing company. Some other elements for example increased third party costs have been present in both types of organizations.  whereby for the service company we considered insurance and software. And for the manufacturing company, we considered raw materials and shipping. 

This shows that when doing a SWOT  analysis we have to be imaginative and try to picture all elements that can have an impact on our organization. 

PESTLE analysis for External & internal issues in ISO

When doing a SWOT  analysis, we might need support to consider the full big picture relating to our organization.  having said that in this example document about internal and external issues I will give you more information on how to accomplish this. 

A frequently used management tool is called PESTLE. Here we are considering the political economic, social, technological, legal, and environmental elements relating to your business. 

  • Political – This can relate to government policy taxes funding opportunities trade restrictions.
  • Economic –  Elements such as unemployment rates,  interest rates, inflation and other macro and microeconomic elements.
  •  Social –  This can relate to elements like the population growth rate or the availability of employees,  it can relate to cultural shifts or changes,  it can also relate to trends that people are following.
  • Technology –  All technological updates that are happening including software, hardware, the internet of things and artificial intelligence and their implications on your business.
  • Environmental – Climate change, the weather, Increase the environmental consciousness within the market.
  •  Legal –  Employment laws within the country,  the difficulty of getting visas for foreign employees,  laws that permit or restrict trading activity.

As you can see by following the PESTLE analysis, you will be able to get some more examples of internal and external issues that can relate to your organization. 


I hope that the example for antenna and external issues that I shared with you on this blog were helpful to your organization. And I hope that you have understood the logic that is needed to meet the requirements of the Standard.

When considering the internal and external issues relating to your organization make sure to consider all interested parties.  the concept of interested parties is discussed and clause 4.2 of the Standard and explains that we actually consider the needs and expectations of all stakeholders of your organization.  This means that if there are any strengths, weaknesses, opportunities,  or threats to any of your stakeholders they can be included within your SWOT  analysis. 

Once you have finalized your SWOT  analysis,  you will need to take the positive internal and external issues and use them as opportunities. You will also need to take the negative internal and external issues within your organization as risks in Close 6.1 of your ISO standard.

WANT  TO LEARN MORE ABOUT Internal and external issues in ISO standards?

As an ISO management system consultant Luke Desira will make it his personal mission to put your company in a class above all others! Read more about how to get ISO certified with Luke Desira here. Otherwise, you can also read about the difference when implementing ISO in a large company versus implementing ISO in a small firm.

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