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An evaluation of documentation requirements for ISO 9001 compliance in scrum projects

Anuradha Mathrani (School of Natural and Computational Sciences, Massey University, Auckland, New Zealand)
Shanuka Wickramasinghe (Massey University, Auckland, New Zealand)
Nihal Palitha Jayamaha (School of Food and Advanced Technology, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand)

The TQM Journal

ISSN: 1754-2731

Article publication date: 4 May 2021




Quality management standards (e.g. ISO 9001) lead to process conformance in the realization of quality goods and services; however, they can be rather document intensive. This paper investigates documentation practices used for aligning “light-weight” Scrum methods with ISO 9001 in a leading healthcare software firm.


The authors investigated how “light-weight” Scrum approaches fit with organizational documentation practices for ISO 9001 compliance in one leading healthcare software development firm. Three investigative rounds were conducted with software professionals having different Scrum roles to understand their challenges in maintaining process documentation with Scrum methods.


ISO standards stipulate certain mandatory documentation as evidence that certain pre-defined processes are followed in the build-up of quality goods and services. However, this may result in “heavy-weight” document driven approaches that interfere with “light-weight” Scrum methods. Case study findings reveal tensions faced by software professionals in maintaining the ISO 9001 documentation. That is, while some level of documentation is considered useful, software professionals consider certain other documentation tasks to be excessive and cumbersome. Further, many operational documents were written retrospectively for administrative compliance, leading to reduced, incomplete and ambiguous descriptions.

Practical implications

The study provides much value for practitioners in adapting their documentation with ongoing operational processes. Further, the critique on current ISO 9001 implementations in Agile environments has implications for future documentation practice.


The empirically drawn findings showcase some of the challenges in maintaining ISO 9001 documentation within Scrum projects. The study has contributed to both theory and practice in relation to the co-existence of ISO drawn standards with Agile approaches used for software development.



The authors would like to thank both the anonymous reviewers for their constructive feedback. Their insightful reviews have helped in improving the quality of the reporting immensely.


Mathrani, A., Wickramasinghe, S. and Jayamaha, N.P. (2021), "An evaluation of documentation requirements for ISO 9001 compliance in scrum projects", The TQM Journal, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



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