There are always plenty of buzzwords in the business world, and one you may have heard a few times recently is ‘Integrated Management System’. While the meaning is obvious, the question is, does it actually work?
Like any new system or idea, it’s best to weigh up the pros and cons before making a decision, and this can be done by researching the system online, talking to other business people or talking to professional consultants.
No system is perfect so we’ll take some time here to consider how an Integrated Management System and training could benefit your organisation. The first thing to understand is that this is a holistic approach, so it will affect all areas of your business. The whole point of the system is to create an overall framework, to save time and increase efficiency.
The other key point is that all staff need to be invested in the system, and work as one, with the main goal of meeting customer expectations and growing market share.
An Integrated Management System – or IMS – is a system that integrates several management components of an organisation. Most commonly, it is used to combine quality management, environmental management and workplace safety.
The emergence of the IMS is a result of ever changing technologies, reduced market share and a growing expectation from customers that businesses should demonstrate social and environmental responsibility. Trying to manage all these components separately is far too time-consuming and costly. In short, it is inefficient.
Another reason for the increasing implementation of the IMS is that many more organisations are choosing to go down the path of ISO management systems and certification. There are many different International Standards in existence, some covering universal needs, such as safety management, and others geared towards specific industries.
In this increasingly competitive market, organisations are finding they are better equipped to win major contracts and government tenders if they are ISO accredited, with an Integrated Management System in place. It is not enough to simply produce a product or service – businesses must also show a commitment to quality, creating a safe workplace, and reducing their impact on the environment.
The quality management standard, ISO 9001, was the first standard to appear, in 1987. ISO 14001 Environmental Management was formed in 1996 and, as with all standards, has been reviewed and updated many times, most recently in 2015. With increasing pressure to reduce our carbon footprint, ISO 14001 has become increasingly important.
So too has workplace safety, especially given the worrying number of serious injuries and deaths over the last couple of years. Workplace safety in Australia is generally covered by either OHSAS 18001 or AS/NZS 4801.
Put this together with the huge increase in legislation, that organisations must comply with, and suddenly the idea of an integrated management system becomes very attractive. An IMS will help reduce documentation and duplication, and make internal and external audits quicker, easier and cheaper.
Okay, those are all positives. But perhaps you’re thinking that getting the training and support you need to put an IMS in place may be hard to find. A few years ago, maybe, but not know. Although I would highly recommend accessing that help directly, through professional consultants, rather than falling for one of the many online DIY solutions.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution so don’t be tempted. Perhaps it is the organisations that chose that path who now say IMSs don’t work! However, businesses which go through consultancies are reporting excellent outcomes.
In Queensland, SC Training Centre in Brisbane is your go-to for Integrated Management System training, and related help, including AS/NZS 4801 and OHSAS 18001 lead auditor courses and internal auditing courses.
Without a doubt professional support and training makes implementing an IMS very straightforward, but there are still some organisations that don’t feel an IMS is the answer. Perhaps they are entrenched in certain ways of doing things or, wrongly, think they don’t fit the criteria, because they are a small organisation.
Integrated Management Systems are not designed exclusively for large companies – all businesses can benefit from having one, whether they have 20 employees or 2000. The focus is not on size, but on increased efficiency, financial savings, customer satisfaction, employee motivation, safety and more.
A system of any kind is only as good as those who design it, and those involved in running it. If you feel that not all your staff will support it, implementing an IMS could be challenging. But on the whole, I would say the advantages of the system far outweigh any disadvantages.