What are the High Level Structures in the ISO Standards?

The ISO Standards have attempted to be normalized across the specific management systems. ISO 9001, IATF 16949, 14001, 45001, 27001 et.al. have similar structures.  Because they span a number of standards they are called High Level Structures.  They were created and used as guidelines during the creation of the latest and future versions. For example the structure or areas covered in the standard (i.e. clauses) are:

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

The clauses of the High Level Structures were formed based on the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) improvement cycle.

pdca iso high level structure
The modern ISO management system standards are based on this common structure - High Level Structure. These include:

  • Quality management: ISO 9001
  • Environmental protection: ISO 14001
  • Security and health at work: ISO 45001
  • Energy management: ISO 50001
  • Information security: ISO 27001
  • Compliance management: ISO 37301
  • Business continuity management: ISO 22301


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