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Violet Masoud


Primetime for Integrated Management Systems

Streamlining your quality certification processes

Published: Wednesday, February 28, 2018 - 13:01

Imagine going to work, motivated to meet all your goals and deadlines, only to find you need a different computer for each of the applications you use: Microsoft Word on the laptop in your office; the customer database solution on the tower PC in the conference room; and email on the desktop in the building across the street. Inefficient would be a charitable description.

Unfortunately, this type of silo-based behavior is what organizations have faced when being certified to multiple management systems standards.

“Traditionally, the big three certifications are handled separately by different groups within the organization,” says Mickey Jawa, chairman and CEO of SatiStar Corp., referring to ISO 9001, ISO 14001, and ISO 45001 (which will replace OHSAS 18001). “This is despite the fact that 65 percent of the compliance process is the same for each standard, creating a huge and unnecessary amount of redundant activity.”

The good news is that ISO’s new high-level structure (HLS), embedded in the latest updates to key standards, allows organizations to integrate multiple standards into a single, streamlined certification process. The idea of integrated management systems is not entirely new, but prior the introduction of the HLS, there was no unifying mechanism within the standards themselves, making “integration” a laborious task almost more taxing than having three totally separate certification processes.

“Past attempts at integration have been quite complex,” says Jawa. “Organizations had to cobble together these independent processes using translation tables. There was a fair amount of guesswork and the end result didn’t yield much time savings. Now, the HLS provides clear rules and a roadmap that makes integration far more efficient and practical.”

The benefits of integrated management systems can be substantial in terms of time and money. Start with the fact that most of the requirements of the 10 sections of the new versions of ISO 9001 and ISO 14001, and the new standard, ISO 45001 (to be published in March 2018) are virtually the same.

“That’s two thirds of the entire project that you now only have to do once instead of three times,” says Jawa.

Moreover, each of the standards is typically handled by separate functions within the organization (respectively, quality, environment, and safety). That means people dealing with separate audits, documentation, corrective actions, and other demands of the certification process. With integrated management systems, the primary responsibilities can be coordinated within a single team that receives input and subject matter expertise, when necessary, from the individual areas.

The HLS is based on Annex SL, which ISO introduced about four years ago. For all intents and purposes, they are the same thing. Annex SL is, essentially, the brand name, and the high-level structure is the generic terminology.

As stated by ISO: “Annex SL solves the problem of potential redundancy in basic structure for companies wishing to deploy multiple standards. It requires that a time-/effort-saving common structure be used for recurring quality management standard elements. But it allows more specifics to be added for a given area of expertise, i.e. environmental or health and safety.”

So most of the time you’ll hear “HLS” when someone asks: “What is the biggest difference in the new version of the ISO management systems standards.”

No matter what you call it, the new integration capability of the major ISO management systems standards is a major boost for organizations seeking to take full advantage of multiple certifications, in a far more efficient way.

To learn more, join Mickey Jawa and myself on Tues., March 6, 2018, at 10 a.m. Pacific, 1 p.m. Eastern as we present the webinar, “Integrated Management Systems: How to Improve the Performance of Your Organization,” hosted by Dirk Dusharme, editor in chief of Quality Digest. Click here to register.


About The Author

Violet Masoud’s picture

Violet Masoud

Violet Masoud is Director of Sales, MSC at DNV GL Business Assurance NA. A passionate and innovative Sales Leader, Masoud has spent her career building a reputation for delivering Sales Results and superior customer service. She delivers strategic, high-level leadership, in-depth Management System and Risk Management expertise, and a motivating management style that engages and inspires top-performing teams.

Masoud has completed extensive professional development training, including: Sales Leadership, ISO 14001, ISO 9001, ISO 27001 Lead Auditor courses as well as number of other Industry specific courses.


Primetime for IMSs

G'day Violet,

Yes, it is true that the 'HLS' has 'standardized' the structure, format, common text and terminology for all ISO Management System Standards (MSS). It is actually very good for any organization should they wish to document their current business systems, processes and procedures.

However, ISO’s HLS “The intended audience for this document is ISO Technical Committees (TC), Subcommittees (SC) and Project Committees (PC) and others that are involved in the development of management system standards.”. It helps us on ISO management system standard working groups ad task forces to develop MSSs. The HLS is not for companies to then document their business systems and expect to be certified. Reference ISO Annex SL 9 "www.iso.org/directives”.

Consolidating the common requirements for all ISO MSS and then as HLS clauses 4.4.1 and 5.1 guide the user, to "integrate these requirements into the organizations business processes". That then helps conform to 6.1 and "identify the risks and opportunities within the organizations business processes" and supports the continual improvement of all business processes. 

Integration therefore of multiple ISO MSSs is by consolidating the HLS requirements, as you said, about 65% are 'common' like the 12 March 2018 released ISO 45001:2018. This includes just like other HLS based MSS, many process requirements for internal and external auditors to see as stated in ISO 9001:2015, "a process approach".

Aerospace and Auto sectors have some practical guidance for how a process-based management system could look for both Certification and Transition:

-      Aerospace, Defence AS 9100D:2016 https://www.sae.org/iaqg/projects/9110-2016_changes_pres.pdf 

-      Automotive IATF 16949:2016. Page 8 https://www.tequa.hu/sites/default/files/transitioning-to-iatf-16949-whitepaper_aiag-3.pdf

For Internal Audits to help organizations provide evidence of their business system documented by their processes and not copying the ISO HLS clauses and Requirements as it would be a non-conformance to all the process requirements i.e. interfaces, relationships, inputs-process-outputs, ISO 9002:2017 Internal Audit says "…….As a best practice, organizations should plan and conduct audits according to the requirements of their quality management system, by project or process, rather than by the specific clauses in ISO 9001" and ISO DIS 19011:2017 Auditing Management Systems currently has "…Reviewing the organization’s processes, their sequence and interactions, the identification of functions".

To clarify the ISO process documentation of an organizations' business management system in readiness for an external audit, there are two initiatives underway:

-      ISO TC 176 has formed a working group to address the issues arising from organizations using a HLS template as a basis for documenting a single or multiple management system and seek certification and

-      The Australian and New Zealand Accreditation Body, they issued the following a Communiqué http://www.jas-anz.org/iso-9001-14001-transitions-update.  

ISO is reviewing the 2nd edition for the “Integrated Use of Management System Standards” handbook which it appointed a working group and then a final task force to complete. The international collaboration, IUMSS survey and over 100 case studies, have documented their management systems for integration, by their processes. This will no doubt reduce the volume of documented information and support both internal and external auditors to provide a conforming IMS and business benefit to support all their continual improvement strategies.