Integrated Management System

What is an IMS ? What are the benefits ?


An Integrated Management System can benefit your organization through increased efficiency and effectiveness, and cost reductions while minimizing the disruption caused by several external audits. It also shows your commitment to increased performance, employee and customer satisfaction, and continuous improvement.

With an integrated management system, you work together, with each function aligned behind a single goal: improving the performance of the entire organization. Instead of silos, you have a coordinated effort which is greater than the sum of its parts and is not only more efficient but more effective. An integrated system provides a clear, uniform image of your entire organization, how they impact each other, and the associated risks. Efficiency is gained from less duplication, and it becomes easier to adopt new systems in future.

An IMS allows your management team to create one system that can help to effectively and efficiently deliver your organization’s objectives. From managing employees’ needs, to monitoring risks and hazards, from reducing inefficiencies and maximizing resources, an integrated approach can help you achieve your objectives.

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An Integrated Management System can benefit your organization through increased efficiency and effectiveness, and cost reductions while minimizing the disruption caused by several external audits. It also shows your commitment to increased performance, employee and customer satisfaction, and continuous improvement.

With an integrated management system, you work together, with each function aligned behind a single goal: improving the performance of the entire organization. Instead of silos, you have a coordinated effort which is greater than the sum of its parts and is not only more efficient but more effective. An integrated system provides a clear, uniform image of your entire organization, how they impact each other, and the associated risks. Efficiency is gained from less duplication, and it becomes easier to adopt new systems in future.

An IMS allows your management team to create one system that can help to effectively and efficiently deliver your organization’s objectives. From managing employees’ needs, to monitoring risks and hazards, from reducing inefficiencies and maximizing resources, an integrated approach can help you achieve your objectives.

Contrary to many other types of standards, management system standards cover multiple aspects, levels and functions of an organization and, therefore, their implementation can have a substantial impact on how an organization operates and manages its business processes. In addition, more and more organizations are applying not only one, but a range of management system standards to satisfy their own needs as well as those of external stakeholders. We acknowledges that there is a market need for separate management system standards addressing different aspects, issues or risks that organizations need to manage.

An integrated management system (IMS) combines multiple management system standards to which an organization is registered. The management systems are developed, implemented, and maintained via one system with processes that cover each standard’s requirements.

For example, the processes required in each standard for document control, internal audits, dealing with nonconformities, corrective actions, or management review can be shared so that the requirements of each standard are met without duplicating effort. An example of an integrated management system is one that simultaneously handles the requirements of ISO 9001, the quality management system standard; and ISO 14001, the environmental management system standard, both from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO); and OHSAS 18001, the Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Specification.

Planning and developing an IMS must include identifying risks and opportunities that could affect the organization, including its business and quality risks, in addition to those relating to health and safety and environmental obligations. Some areas may integrate more easily than others, and as such, systems may end up being fully integrated or partially integrated.

According to ISO, “a management system describes the set of procedures an organization needs to follow in order to meet its objectives.” An IMS enables an organization to monitor, measure, and evaluate its effectiveness in meeting its objectives by adopting a process approach. The process approach allows top management to address all elements of the management system rather than looking at individual standards, clauses, activities, or requirements separately.

The high-level structural alignment of the ISO standards facilitates the integration of multiple management systems. This structural alignment is also expected to be present in ISO 45001 (the migration document for OHSAS 18001) with its planned publication in 2017.
Integrated management systems and Annex SL

Most management system standards, including ISO 9001:2015, ISO 14001:2015, AS9100:2016 (aerospace), TL 9000 Rev. 6 (telecommunications), and IATF 16949:2016 (developed by the International Automotive Task Force and replaced ISO/TS 16949), adopted the Annex SL framework. Annex SL, developed by ISO, is an underlying framework designed to provide a standardized and consistent approach to implementation, ongoing maintenance, and continual improvement of a management system. You might think of it as an ISO standard for ISO standards. This standardized and consistent framework enables and facilitates organizations to effectively integrate their separate management systems by using a standard template. Used effectively, Annex SL can reduce the level of bureaucracy and amount of resources needed.

The business benefits of an IMS


Where an IMS has been effectively implemented into an organization’s business strategy and direction, it enables top management to ensure effective leadership and commitment while reducing the amount of duplication activities and therefore time spent reviewing. This allows cost savings through the efficient use of resources at all levels and functions throughout the organization. An IMS further enables organizations to fully understand their business context and stakeholder obligations and requirements within each specific sector, highlighting regular risks and opportunities.

A robust IMS enables the organization to identify potential improvements across all of its parameters by providing a holistic view of the entire business (e.g., quality, environmental, and health and safety) compared to that achieved under individual management systems.

What are the benefits from a certification perspective?


The implementation of an IMS has the potential to reduce the duration of an external audit compared to separate audits being conducted for each registration. This is due to the focus on integrating common processes and requirements as mentioned earlier. Your assessor is therefore able to audit against multiple standard requirements while reviewing one particular process or policy; this make the audit process much more efficient. By reducing the duration of an audit, you will therefore reduce both the internal and external costs associated with the audit as well as minimizing disruption for staff throughout the audit period.

An assessor’s thoughts on integrated management systems


Implementing an IMS is a positive move for organizations compared with operating co-joined management systems. Not only does it align with new ISO standards, but it also highlights an organization’s continual improvement and maturity. It leads to a more efficient process for third-party auditors and internal auditors due to the consistency and structure of the IMS. Assessors have also found that an organization with an IMS typically has a better understanding of its business objectives in regard to strategies, opportunities, risks, and improvement areas.

If you want to find out more on the benefits of integrated management systems, simply ask your auditor during your company’s next scheduled audit.

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