Integrating management systems – what’s the best way to do this? I’m asked this question at least weekly – and it’s always interesting to dig a little deeper into the context of the question. And although I’ve addressed this previously in earlier blog posts, this is more of a high level chat than a deep dive…
Integrating Management Systems is not as straightforward as it sounds
When I first started working as a consultant over 20 years ago, I naively thought that I understand what someone meant when they said that they were “integrating management systems”. It was after we hit a few bumps in the road that I learned to ask the following questions:
- What management systems are you going to integrate? Quality? Environmental? Health/Safety? Financial? Strategic? Logistics? etc.
- What do you mean by “integration”? Do you expect to have one set of documents/policies? Do you expect one set of personnel to manage it? Are you going to have common procedures but different job titles manage the expertise areas (OHS professionals, Environmental professionals, Quality professionals)?
- What is the time frame for integration – and how will it be accomplished? As documents are due for revision, they are reviewed and combined at that time? Are we going to put a stake in the ground and revise everything from that point forward, as well as work backwards? Etc.
Once we understood that we had to be talking a common language, and define common terms, the work went much smoother.
High level concept
Integrating management systems is simply combining the work being done by your organization, that conforms to various management systems, into one common set of procedures, policies, metrics, and reviews.
An integrated management system review may encompass
- quality objectives and target attainment
- environmental aspects and impacts review
- occupational health and safety hazard and risks review
- sales forecast and current financial metrics
- customer complaints, violations, and reporting requirements (e.g. OSHA 300 log in the US)
in one seamless meeting, rather than each subject being covered in a separate meeting (with perhaps different attendees at each meeting!)
Integrating management systems may be a bit of work at the outset, but the benefits to the organization make the work worthwhile.