What's the difference between a documented system and a system of documentation?

In ISO/TC176/SC2/N1276 (2015) which is a document supporting ISO 9001:2015 is the following statement "It is stressed that ISO 9001 requires (and always has required) a "Documented quality management system", and not a "system of documents".

A system of documentation is a collection of documents which have an aim or purpose. One could say that the ISO 9000 family of standards is a system of standards or documents. Each standard in the family serves the purpose of the set of standards, remove any one of those standards and that purpose is unfulfilled assuming they are all essential for coherence.

A documented system can be any type of system that has been documented. Therefore the set of specifications, drawings, handbooks and manuals for making, installing and operating a physical system is a system of documentation. But the documentation is not the system; it is merely an incomplete description of the system. It’s incomplete because it probably wont describe science that explains how and why the component parts function or which explains the behaviour of the people who through their interaction with the physical elements, make the system produce outputs that are greater than the sum of its parts.






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