Efficiency is the name of the game in business these days so if there was a way of making your business more efficient while also saving money, you’d want to do it, right?
Well, that’s exactly the point of an Integrated Management System ISO. And it makes perfect sense.
An IMS – or Integrated Management System – combines the different areas of your business into one component for easier, more efficient and more economical management.
So that might include quality assurance, health and safety, and environmental components.
An IMS also makes it much easier to identify any deficiencies or problems within the organisation, so they can be quickly rectified.
New updates in Place
2015 saw several very important ISO updates, including ISO 9001:2015 – affecting quality management – and 14001:2015 – relating to environmental management. ISO 45001, relating to Occupational Health & Safety, is also currently under review and a new version will be published later this year.
Why are International Standards suddenly so important? It’s not actually that sudden. The International Organisation for Standardisation was founded in 1947, and is the world’s largest developer of voluntary International Standards.
Since 1947 more than 19000 Standards have been published, covering all aspects of business and technology. So you could say that these guys know what they’re talking about!
The organisation is made up from representatives from throughout the world, all working towards the same goal of improving systems for the greatest efficiency and the least impact on the environment.
International Standards benefit the organisations that implement them, the customers and clients of those organisations, the environment, society and the global market.
In fact, they have played a major role in breaking down barriers to international trade.
They may sound complicated but Standards are basically tools and guidelines used to tackle the issues of modern trading. They are there to help businesses throughout the world access new markets, increase efficiency and productivity, and keep costs under control.
They are increasingly important as an environmental tool, ensuring the impact of our businesses and organisations have minimal impact on the planet.
The ultimate goal for a business using these International Standards is Integrated Management System certification.
To achieve that, businesses need to put Integrated Management System training in place, generally through specialist training consultants.
A quick search online will tell you where you can find integrated management services providers, but always do your research to ensure they are suited to your particular business and industry.
There is also extensive information available online about the economic benefits of implementing standards, and that’s something your training crew can go through with you.
ISO methodology is based on what is known as the ‘value chain’ – and that comprises the different key functions of a business.
For example, in any given business, whatever the product or service, there is a research and development function, a marketing function, a finance function, and so on.
The ISO methodology not only works, but it has been tried and tested to prove that it works. The ISO has case studies spanning around 15 different industries in 21 countries, covering everything from food production to telecommunications to construction.
It’s interesting that it’s often the small to medium-sized businesses that fail to see the benefits of integrated management system training, yet they are possibly the ones who would most benefit.
These smaller businesses often struggle to get everything done as they simply can’t afford more, specialist employees. They are therefore the perfect candidate for an integrated system.
By bringing all their procedures and systems together, and allocating responsibility, the whole business will run more smoothly, leaving more time to concentrate on building the business.
ISO regularly carry out surveys to check that their systems are delivering. ISO spoke to 10 SMEs to see how ISO standards had helped them improve their systems. These businesses each employed between 3 and 48 employees.
All the businesses surveyed said ISO standards helped them improve the quality of their goods and services, and helped cut costs, drive growth and increase profits.
Many said that they already worked to very high standards, but needed to communicate this to clients and potential clients, and certification was the best way of doing that.
A common survey response was that ISO standards had helped the businesses open up lucrative export markets for their goods.
All the businesses said that ISO standards ensured they complied with regulations and, with certification, showed both authorities and customers that they were doing things ‘by the book’.
The most popular integration is ISO 9001 Quality Management Systems, ISO 14001 Environmental Management Systems, and Occupational Health & Safety AS/NZS 4801.
Management systems clearly demand regular audits but, by implementing an integrated system, this can reduce the disruption audits can cause.
In just the same way integrated planning will save the business money, so too will combined audit planning and reporting, thus saving money through every aspect of the business.