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Highlighting The Difference Between Management in 2008 and in 2015

15 February 2018
The topic of management is not a new concept in the 2015 version standards, but the key changes can be summed up in two words; “Leadership” and Strategy”. Whilst this may not appear to be significant on the surface, in reality it is the difference between night and day and perhaps represents the biggest shift seen since much earlier versions.

Previous versions of management system standards have always had a management requirement which basically means that “Top Management” need to provide sufficient resources to ensure an effective system, typically this would include:

  • Communicating the importance of meeting customer and statutory requirements
  • Establishing policy and objectives
  • Conducting management reviews, and
  • Ensuring availability of adequate resources

Whilst the above framework did enable a common approach that was easy to implement and practical to audit, it was also prone to a number of weaknesses.

My own experiences may be biased on the construction industry, but I have seen many organizations that have decided to implement a management system due to external requirements, e.g. requirements for a client or marketplace tender. This often runs from the following type of conversation…

Managing Director
“We need to get ISO 9001 to work for this client…”
Operations Manager
“Yes, I think you’re right”
Managing Director
“Great, then you take care of it…”

I would imagine that many management system professionals can relate to this conversation at some point in their career. That is not to say it is a bad approach, but generally results in the management system being developed by the engagement of an external consultant who doesn’t really know the business or by someone within the organization who may not have any experience with management system standards. Quite often the end result will be:

  • a bulky system with many procedures that are written as a bolt on to satisfy ISO requirements

  • a policy that is put under the MD’s nose to sign

  • someone within the organization who is appointed as the management representative, quite often with no real power or influence over policy or decision making.

The measure of top management in previous versions has always been based on availability of documentation, sufficient levels of resources and the existence of a management system representative. However the greatest weakness of this approach is mentioned above, the Management System becomes a bolt on to how the organization has worked for many years and probably will continue to work.

Don’t get me wrong, the above approach isn’t the model used for every organization and in all fairness I have seen many organizations who have started with this approach and their top management have seen the value of the management system results/benefits and have committed to evolve and improve, becoming born again ISOist’s.

Now, fast forward to 2015…

In the 2015 revision of both ISO 9001 and ISO 14001, the concept of Leadership has been introduced, which not only supplements the term “top management” but actually provides key requirements. There are several clauses that relate to this, but the general summary of changes in management includes:

  • The role of Management System Representative is no longer required

  • Top management must now take accountability for the effectiveness of the management system

  • Top management must ensure integration of the management system into the organizations business processes

  • Top management shall engagedirect and support persons who contribute to the effectiveness of the management system

So what does this mean?

If you look at the above list there are some highlighted key words that provide a new expectation from management which are self-explanatory, but for me the biggest shift in change is that management systems are no longer allowed to be a bolt on to the existing organizations processes, they should be built into the same system.

With the depreciation of the management system representative and more emphasis placed upon the business leaders, I have seen many Directors during an audit who are worried because in the past they have just had to pop their head in to say hello but now they are open to interview because many requirements are no longer required to be documented.

In reality, as an auditor, we are looking to make sure that the leaders of the business are managing risks and opportunities that are aligned within the new requirements of internal/external factors, interested parties and compliance obligations. 

Chances are that they have been doing this for years, by completing board reports, SWOT and PESTLE analysis, cash flow reports and setting business strategy to manage corporate risk and the demands of the marketplace. 

For me it is rewarding to see a Director start to relax and flow as they realise that whilst the concept of Leadership and Organizational Context maybe a new section in the standards, it is in fact  something they have been doing for years.

Reflecting that this biggest shift in management between 2008 and 2015 is ensuring that the management system is fully integrated into the organizations processes and not just a bolt-on.

Author: Jonathan Green, NQA Regional Assessor