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Where to Begin with IMS Implementation

20 September 2016
NQA’s very own Joe Kelly delves into the benefits of integrating your management systems, with his handy ten tips for implementation. 

Integrating your management systems (also known as IMS) can help to reduce duplication and improve efficiency. By combining your management systems, it can provide greater benefit than running separate management systems in parallel.

What is an IMS?

An integrated management system is a management system that integrates all or part of an organization's systems and processes in to one complete framework, enabling an organization to work as a single unit with unified objectives.

Integrated Management is relevant to any organization, regardless of size or sector, looking to integrate two or more of their management systems into one cohesive system with a holistic set of documentation, policies, procedures and processes. Typically, organizations most receptive to this product will be those who have maturing management systems and who wish to introduce other management systems to their organization with the benefits that those bring. 

What can be Integrated?

You can integrate any management system:
ISO 9001 – ISO 14001 – OHSAS 18001 – ISO 27001 – ISO 50001.

What are the benefits of an IMS?

  • Easy and user friendly approach to manage various standards.

  • Reduces costs and increases profit margins.

  • Increases competitiveness.

  • Better financial performance and optimized cost: By avoiding duplication in internal audits, Management Review, objectives, Legal Registers, document control, training and administration, adopting future management systems will be much more effective. 

  • Time savings: By having only one set of unified documentation. 

  • Most organizations also benefit from having a reduction in the total number of audit days when integrated compared to a non-integrated system.

10 Step Approach to IMS

Step 1: Awareness Training

Organization companywide awareness about various standards covered under IMS for your organization. Separate training sessions for top management, middle management and junior level management. Creates a motivating environment throughout the organization for implementation of an integrated management system covering all or some of the ISO standards.

Step 2: Policy & Objectives

Development of an integrated Quality Policy / Environment Policy / Health Safety Policy / Information Security Policy etc and relevant objectives for the organization considering vision, mission, goals and strategic direction of the company. Work with top management on development of the policy. Have a work shop with top management and middle level functional management on development of integrated objectives. 

Step 3: Internal Gap Analysis

Identification of degree of compliance of existing system against requirements of the standards under consideration in your IMS. Understanding of all the operations of the organization. Development of a process map for the activities of the organization. Comparing existing operations with requirements of ISO standard and finding out additional compliances to be made. Understand the context of the organization.

Step 4: Documentation/Process Design

Documentation of the entire process as per requirements of relevant standard(s). Write & implement a manual, functional procedures, work instructions, system procedures & associated forms.

Step 5: Documentation/Process Implementation

Processes / documents developed in step 4 implemented across the organization covering all the departments and activities. Have a workshop on process / document implementation as per applicable ISO standard requirements.  

Step 6: Internal Audit

A robust internal audit system for the organization is essential. Internal Auditor Training is recommended for effective audits NQA can provide Internal Auditor training for the standard(s) that you are implementing. Trained internal auditors carry out internal audit of the organization covering all the departments and operations. Corrective actions for improvements in each of the audited departments in order to bridge gaps and ensure effectiveness of IMS – not just compliance.

Step 7: Organize a Management ‘System’ Review Meeting

A formal system of top management reviewing various business critical aspects of the organization relevant to the standards being implemented. Review the following: policy (including strategic direction of the organization),  objectives (both the setting of objectives, then review the extent to which objectives have been met), results of internal audit, results of process performance, results of complaints / feedback / legal compliance, results of risk assessment / incidents etc. ….and develop action plan following the meeting – which must be minuted.

Step 8: Thorough Gap Analysis of implemented system

A formal pre certification gap analysis should be conducted to assess effectiveness and compliance of system implementation in the organization. A close representation of final certification audit would benefit from being conducted and can help to find a degree of compliance with standards in the IMS. It can also help to give you an idea about how to conduct of the final certification audit.  

Step 9: Corrective Actions

Organization ready for final certification audit. On the basis of gap analysis audit conducted in the last step, all the non-conformities will be assigned corrective actions. Check that all the significant NCs are closed and the organization is ready for the final certification audit. 

Step 10: Final Certification Audit

Organization hopefully recommended for registration to ISO 9001/ISO 14001/OHSAS 18001.