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How Can An IMS help Your Business?

21 June 2016
An Integrated Management System can enable top management to ensure effective and efficient leadership and commitment whilst reducing the amount of duplication activities, find out more...

What is an Integrated Management System?

An integrated IMS is where the management system standards (e.g. ISO 9001, ISO 14001, OHSAS 18001 etc.), to which an organization is registered are written, implemented and controlled via one single documented management system.  For example, planning, implementing, auditing, control of documented information, management review, compliance evaluation, monitoring and measuring etc. (based on the core requirements of PDCA) cover each of the standards to which the organization is registered.
 
The processes for planning must take account of identifying risks and opportunities which have the potential to effect the organization, including its business risks, in addition to those relating to H&S and Environment obligations, for example. These may include brand, reputation and commercial and stakeholder interests.
 
An Integrated Management System also enables an organization to monitor, measure and evaluate their compliance and effectiveness by adopting the process approach. The process approach allows a quality manager to address all elements of their management system rather than looking at individual standards, clauses, activities or requirements separately.

This is a hot topic within ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 14001:2015 and therefore encourages organizations to integrate their management systems. It is also expected to be present in ISO 45001 (the migration document for OHSAS 18001) when it is published in 2017.

Integrated Management Systems and Annex SL

All new management system standards, including the ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 14001:2015 standards have or will be adopting the Annex SL framework. Annex SL has been designed to provide a standardised and consistent approach to implementation, on-going maintenance and continual improvement of a management system.
 
This standardized and consistent framework (Annex SL) enables and facilitates organizations to effectively integrate their separate management systems by utilizing a standard template.
 
Used effectively, Annex SL can reduce the level of bureaucracy and amount of resources needed. 

IMS – The Business Benefits

Where an IMS has been effectively implemented into an organization's business strategy and direction, it enables top management to ensure effective and efficient leadership and commitment whilst reducing the amount of duplication activities and therefore time spent reviewing.
 
A robust IMS enables the organization to identify potential improvements across all of its parameters by providing a holistic view of the entire business (e.g. quality, environmental and health and safety) compared to that achieved under individual management systems.
 
This allows cost savings through the effective and efficient use of resources at all levels and functions throughout the organization.
 
Linked with the 2015 updates and integrated management system further enables organizations to fully understand their business context and stakeholder obligations and requirements within each specific sector highlighting regular risks and opportunities.

What are the Benefits from a Certification Perspective?

The implementation of an Integrated Management System has the potential to reduce the duration of an external audit compared to separate audits being conducted for each registration. This is due to the reduction of duplicate forms and policies as mentioned earlier on. Your NQA Assessor is therefore able to audit against multiple standard requirements whilst reviewing one particular process or policy making the audit process much more efficient.
 
By reducing the duration of an audit you will therefore reduce both the internal and external costs associated with the audit as well as minimizing disruption on staff throughout the audit period.

An Assessor’s thoughts on an IMS

Implementing an integrated management system is a positive move forward for organizations compared with operating co-joined management systems. Not only does it show alignment with the new standards, but it also highlights organizations to our assessors that are continually improving and looking for further efficiencies.
 
It also leads to a more efficient process for third party auditors and internal auditors due to the common consistency and structure of an implemented Integrated Management System.
 
Assessors have also found that organizations that operate an integrated management system typically have a better understanding of the business in regard to their strategy, opportunities, risks and improvement areas.
 
If you want to find out more on the benefits of integrated management systems simply as your Assessor at your next visit or alternatively book onto one of NQA’s training courses to help you understand the fundamentals behind integrating your management systems. Click here for our range of training courses.
 
Authors: D. Stevens & D. Winterburn, IMS Regional Assessors