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Annex SL: The Handle of the Management Systems Umbrella

13 April 2016
When it’s raining standards, you need a management systems umbrella. Umbrellas. Standards. Has NQA gone mad? Not at all, allow us to explain the analogy.

Since ISO 9001:1994 was published, ISO has developed numerous management systems standards for related management disciplines. But, until very recently each standard had its own unique structure, key concepts, terms and definitions.

This lack of cohesion created several unintended side effects – namely:

  • Difficulty in integrating management systems, which is becoming more popular as organisations adopt multiple standards and seek efficiency

  • Multiple intensive learning curves when implementing different standards, which should ideally complement and augment each other

  • Silo approach to implementing and operating management systems for different disciplines resulting in duplication of effort and resource

  • Inefficient methodology for developing new management systems standards and creating synergies between them.

Annex SL – The Common Thread

Addressing these challenges led to the development of Annex SL, which defines a common structure and core concepts for all future ISO management systems standards. It has already been adopted by:

  • ISO 27001:2013 – information security management systems (ISMS)

  • ISO 9001:2015 – quality management systems (QMS)

  • ISO 14001:2015 – environmental management systems (EMS)

  • ISO 45001:201x – the forthcoming standard for occupational health and safety management systems (OHSMS)

Annex SL has been called The Common Thread; the beauty of Annex SL is that once you understand the core structure and fundamental concepts – which are good management practices, anyway – you have grasped the whole range of management systems standards by the metaphorical “umbrella handle”.

“Annex SL, the “handle” for all ISO management system standards, has been in place for several years. But, it is now becoming more widely known through the updates to ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 in 2015. I believe the introduction of Annex SL heralded a quiet revolution in management system standards and their audit, that is now gaining real momentum.” 
Dr Margaret Rooney, ISO 9001 Transitions Manager

Hold The Handle, Control The Umbrella

If you hold the handle, you control the umbrella – like Neo in the Matrix, once you “see” Annex SL, you cannot “un-see” the structure and relationship between the full range of management system standards irrespective of their individual scopes and disciplines.

Annex SL is that fundamental, so before planning implementation or transition to any of the new ISO management systems standards, get to grips with the Annex SL Handle.

Watch the NQA Annex SL webinar here