With the implementation of the revised requirements of ISO14001:2015, RC14001:2015, there has been significant customer confusion/concern with the term ‘intended outcome’.  4.1 specifies ‘understanding the context of the organization’, ‘interest and expectations of interested parties/stakeholders and the effect that these may have on the organizations ability to achieve ‘intended outcome’.

Another question: can the policy indicate ‘intended outcome’? Must an organization establish a separate ‘statement of intent’ to meet the requirements of this clause? Should this be documented in the MS? If not, how else can an organization demonstrate that it has addressed the question of ‘intent’?

“Intended outcomes” noted in the following areas:

  • 2 Aim of the management system
  • 1 – Scope (specifies that intended outcomes should be ‘consistent with the policy’ which include
    • enhancement of environmental performance;
    • fulfilment of compliance obligations;
    • achievement of environmental objectives.
  • 2.5 (definitions) which states that an objective can be expresses as an intended outcome, purpose ect.
  • 1 Context of the organization (first auditable clause)
  • 4 Environmental Management System
  • 1(f) where it is required that top management ‘ensure that the management system achieves its intended outcomes’
  • 1.1 – assurances that the management system can achieve intended outcome
  • 1 – Improvement – ‘implementation of actions necessary for the system to achieve intended outcome’
  • A-1 –
  • A-3 (Clarification of Concepts)
    • “The phrase “intended outcome” is what the organization intends to achieve by implementing its environmental management system. The minimal intended outcomes include enhancement of environmental performance, fulfilment of compliance obligations and achievement of environmental objectives. Organizations can set additional intended outcomes for their environmental management system. For example, consistent with their commitment to protection of the environment, an organization may establish an intended outcome to work towards sustainable development.”
  • A-4.1 Context
  • A-5.2 Policy
  • A-5.3 Organizational Roles, Responsibilities and Authorities
  • A-6.1.1 Planning
    • A-6.1.4
  • 1 Operation

In short, quite an important concept to consider when establishing the management system, its aim, purpose, objective.  (trust me, I am really trying to be short here)

While it is not necessary for the organization to create a separate ‘statement of intent’, it IS necessary to top management to indicate, articulate the purpose of the management system – which in general sense should include items from 0.2 of the standard (see above).

I believe the intent here (pardon my ‘opinion’) is to engage high level executives/management in them setting the tone, direction, purpose of the management system and NOT to just ‘edict’ to middle management/management representative that they should implement this type of system because it is a ‘customer/industry’ requirement.

An example of intended outcome (as stated by an actual client)


  1. Create Environmental Management Programs which have the overall goal of minimizing our impact on the environment.
  2. Establish a management system with the clear intend to minimize, reduce, eliminate (where possible) and prevent adverse impact to the environment 

While it is possible for an organization to be quite specific in stating intent (i.e reduce impact to the environment by some ‘quantifiable’ amount such as – 10% reduction of use of natural resources, energy, waste to landfill) it might not be recommended that they take this approach, since NOT meeting these specific intentions may place the system in a state of nonconformance – which, technically, can be a MAJOR nonconformity.

At any rate, these are just a couple of ‘real life’ examples of intent. I imagine that you all may encounter various other versions/renditions.

References:    ISO 14001:2015, RC 14001:2015

By: Douglas Simon, EMBA, CPEA

Sara Gulo

Sara Gulo is the Marketing Specialist for DQS Inc. in the USA. She's been with DQS for 10 years in various roles, including Verification and Customer Service Professional.