Integrated Management Systems

The second edition of the ISO Handbook, “The Integrated Use of Multiple System Standards”, was published in November 2018. It is available for about $60 at this ISO web page.

The Handbook uses the phrase “integrated management system” to refer to the outcome of the process of integrating requirements from multiple management system standards into a single management system within an organization.

The Handbook contains three chapters:

Chapter 1 describes the fundamentals of a management system and how it links an organization’s strategies, plans, and operations.

Chapter 2 describes the structure and content of different management system standards and their application.

Chapter 3 describes how an organization integrates the requirements of multiple management system standards into their management system.

There are two annexes at the back of the Handbook:         

Annex A details an extended generic example of “Jim the Baker” designing, implementing, and integrating new requirements as the     business evolves and grows.

Annex B details the graphical representation of survey answers to a questionnaire sent to organizations about the integrated management systems.

Benefits of Integrated Management Systems

According to the Handbook, the primary benefit of an integrated management system is development of a systematic integration process capable of absorbing any changed or new requirements of a standard, or that are received from the customer or interested parties.

Additional benefits to the organization include eliminating redundancy, establishing consistency of approach, reducing bureaucracy, strengthening accountability, reducing costs, optimizing processes and resources, reducing maintenance of the management system, consolidation of audits, facilitating decision‐making, and improving performance.

Eliminating redundancies

An integrated approach to implementing multiple management system standards can result in common or single management system components, e.g., policies, objectives, processes, and resources. Examples include single procedures for the areas of training, document control, management reviews, internal audits, and improvement.

Establish consistency

Using an integrated approach helps with the consistency of the management system. The system becomes less complicated and can be understood better by everyone in the organization. There is improved focus on achieving a common set of objectives that are important to the organization.

Reducing bureaucracy

The idea of reducing bureaucracy is closely related to eliminating redundancy. The proliferation of multiple management systems standards can create a management dilemma when attempting to streamline decision‐making or reduce layers in the hierarchy.

A systematic approach, with processes that can accommodate or absorb any change or new requirements, represents added value to the organization in reducing bureaucracy. Establishing process owners with cross‐functional teams having assigned responsibility and accountability is an effective approach to breaking down barriers to decision making and deployment.

Strengthening accountability

Another effect of integrating management system objectives, processes, and resources can be improvement in accountability.

Reducing costs

Reducing maintenance, consolidation of audits and assessments, as well as, the optimization of processes and resources can contribute to reducing costs.

Optimization of processes and resources

Management system standard requirements do not have to be an added load to the organization, but rather can be a wheel to drive customer, interested party, and the organization’s requirements smoothly and effectively into the organization’s processes.

Resources can be optimized because they are now focused on process implementation and adding value rather than additional system maintenance. Innovation is enhanced as the organization learns more about itself and compares its infrastructure to the requirements of the standards.

Reducing maintenance

Maintenance refers to ensuring compliance and upholding the intent of management system standard requirements. Compliance with multiple standards needs to be maintained concurrently. An integrated approach streamlines the process, allowing an organization to focus its improvement efforts rather than maintaining multiple individual systems.

Consolidation of audits

When there is an integrated management system as the foundation, the organization can consolidate internal audits. As a result, there is less work interruption and potentially less time needed for internal audits or assessments. Interrelationships among the processes are better understood and managed, which can lead to more in‐depth audits or assessments.

Separate management system audits or assessments drive a functional response to the findings and often those findings do not identify linkages between processes. With the integrated approach, management system audits place the linkages of processes as a high priority and often identify critical system failures.

Facilitating decision making

By eliminating redundancy and establishing consistency, the organization has a more complete view of the functional needs and performance of the business. This integrated approach enables the organization to break down functional and department barriers to improve communication and decision making.

Note: See my article on Integrated Audits on how to plan, conduct, and report on audits of integrated management systems.   

Improving performance

Integrated use of management system standards can have a positive impact on specific management system components and outcomes, such as quality, safety, risk, and productivity.