You may have already achieved certification with one or more standards, but want to take practical steps towards reducing duplication and improving efficiencies. On the other hand, you might be just getting started with ISO compliance.
Whichever situation you relate to, there are plenty of reasons to get on board with integrated management systems. There’s also the option to leverage cloud-based technology, which can make systems even easier to manage, update and monitor.
Integrated management systems: overview
With an IMS, your business can achieve and maintain certification by seamlessly integrating several standards into one streamlined, lean system.
Doing this effectively and reaping the benefits means going beyond purely ‘ticking boxes’. While that could save you time and money in the short term, it all too often leaves businesses worse off when it comes to the work of maintaining those systems.
Instead, whether you’re starting fresh or building on existing systems, making compliance an ongoing priority and an integral part of “how you do business” across all operations is essential to getting real value from being an ISO certified company.
Most ISO standards (especially those structured according to the new Annex SL) can be integrated, but if you have any uncertainties surrounding this, a consultant can help point you in the right direction. Standards that are commonly integrated include:
- ISO 9001 (Quality Management)
- ISO 45001 (Occupational Health and Safety)
- ISO 14001 (Environmental)
- ISO 27001 (Information Security)
For example, companies can integrate ISO 45001 and ISO 14001 to establish a HSE management system.
When systems are separated from one another, organisations can miss the opportunity to streamline and optimise their operations. Processes can instead end up duplicated, disjointed and ineffective which wastes time and money better spent elsewhere.
With an IMS, organisational departments work more cooperatively towards shared goals and a common vision. This, in turn, makes it easier to improve issue and incident response times and reduce duplication and rework – and this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Should your business get on board with integrated management systems?
At first glance, an IMS can seem like a lot of effort for businesses that are comfortable with their current way of doing things. The question arises – why change up what you’re doing, if it’s already working?
Change doesn’t have to be daunting; in fact, as a business, you’d be well aware of just how important it is to be adaptable in an ever-changing landscape. When integrating systems can help your business be more efficient, enjoy cost savings and much more, it’s not only a feasible decision – it’s a profitable one.
In this article, we’ll be looking into this myriad of benefits in more depth, so you can determine if an integrated management system (IMS) would be a solid investment for your business.
1. Cost and time savings
If your organisation has already achieved compliance with a given ISO standard, and you decide to integrate this standard with one or more other standards, the process of getting certified can be up to 50% quicker.
As mentioned previously, an IMS helps organisations pinpoint and alleviate inefficiencies, freeing up more time for management and employees to spend on meaningful tasks that advance the business. This, in turn, saves the business time and money.
Finally, for businesses contemplating certification for the first time, integrating two or more management systems together can be 33-50% cheaper than if they were separate.
2. Easier to maintain
One of the most valuable characteristics of an IMS is no duplication of documentation. This translates into information being easier to locate, sort and update – so systems can be maintained without becoming burdensome.
Equally when changes or updates are required – these only need to be made to, say, one document instead of three separate ones.
Another important aspect of a workable IMS is that it is lean and as low-document as possible. By removing clunky, out-dated and inefficient processes and unnecessary documentation – an IMS can reduce time wasting bureaucracy, keep your business agile and give you time to focus on more important matters than updating documentation that no-one reads.
3. Increase profitability
An integrated management system can do more than just deliver financial savings – it can boost profitability as well.
There a wide range of reasons why this is the case, including that IMS helps organisations:
- Support continuous improvement;
- Maximise their resource allocation;
- Quickly identify any issues and/or opportunities to improve systems;
- Reduce waste;
- Maintain a strong public image through their commitment to excellence.
The characteristics of successful integrated management systems
All of this considered, what characteristics make a business’ integrated management systems effective and maintainable?
When setting up your integrated management system, to get the best outcomes, take the time to ensure it satisfies the following:
- Simple to operate and maintain;
- Functional and easy to navigate;
- Only includes relevant and required information;
- Confidential information is kept under restricted access;
- Information only needs to be entered once into the unified system;
- Doesn’t require excessive IT expertise to install operate and support;
- Flexible and adaptable enough to meet standard/regulatory requirements (which can be reviewed and changed).
Cloud-based systems and IMS
When it comes to managing an IMS, it’s also worth considering cloud-based systems and how they could be of both short and long term benefit to your business. If your business is still relying on paper-based systems, which are now widely considered out-dated and inefficient, it could be time to get on board with cloud-based IMS.
With cloud-based IMS, you can:
- Streamline processes;
- Save time;
- Improve document control;
- Access real-time insights;
- Use data to inform decision making;
- More readily adapt to change;
- Support remote working;
- And much more!
Speak with an ISO consultant
For more information, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team of Australia-wide ISO consultants.