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 March 1997 Article


Why You Should Integrate

ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 Systems

Many industry leaders have begun to combine management systems  for maximum financial, staffing  and training efficiency.

by Annette Dennis McCully

With the emergence of ISO 14001, companies with business units certified to ISO 9000 should consider the possibility of integrating the two management systems, incorporating safety and health issues as well, when feasible. Quality Digest talked with quality and environmental managers from Weyerhaeuser Co. and Tektronix Inc. to determine how these very different organizations are working toward full integration of systems. We also spoke with International Standards Initiative about its ISO 14000 Leadership Project. The concept of integration of systems has been a topic of discussion in forum sessions of the Leadership Project.

Emergence and convergence of the standards

ISO 14000 has gone through a very rapid approval process for the world to agree upon an environmental management standard comparable to the ISO 9000 quality management standard, observes K.C. Ayers, executive director of International Standards Initiative in Issaquah, Washington. His nonprofit corporation specializes in support and education relating to ISO 9000 and ISO 14000, in addition to related quality, environmental, and health and safety management systems. It presents monthly workshops and annual conferences on quality and environmental management standards issues. Ayers currently administrates the ISO 14000 Leadership Project, which includes industry, regulatory agencies, federal facilities and environmental interest groups.

"Historically, the quality standard began as an end-check approach to measure the quality of the product," explains Ayers. "However, our culture has become much more sophisticated, and many products (such as electronics) can't just be inspected at the end, so process checks are performed as the product is being assembled. This then carries over to the design aspects and quality involved. These changes revolve around a cultural shift to total quality management, which draws the quality professional into the business decision-making process."

Environmental and health and safety issues have also been important parts of the business process since the 1970s, but they have been driven by compliance requirements, explains Ayers. However, companies are now discovering through the ISO 9000 model that they can get workers involved to help mitigate the health and safety or environmental aspects associated with designing and building a product. This saves the company money. If many of the same people are involved, then the work can become integrated as a business process, with commonalities in process documentation and employee training. ISO 9000 standards provide a framework a company can use to internalize and formalize its management systems.

"The customer may also prefer a product built with quality in mind and in an environmentally friendly way," says Ayers. "The shift to individual accountability also makes it a process with people in mind."

Weyerhaeuser gears up

Weyerhaeuser Co., headquartered in Tacoma, Washington, is one of the largest forest products companies in the world. The company has 35,000 employees and does $12 billion in annual sales, focusing on pulp, paper and packaging products and services, and on wood products and timberland. About 30 Weyer-haeuser business units, such as box plants and paper mills, are certified to ISO 9000, says Rich Jellison, a quality consultant in the Weyerhaeuser corporate quality office. He belongs to a cross-company team that is currently looking at environmental management systems on a strategic level to determine their impact on the industry and their own operation. He is also part of another, smaller cross-company team that is examining the ISO 14000 standard.

"If we determine that there will be an impact, we then develop a draft framework to use for discussion purposes with our business units," says Jellison.

There are many parallels between ISO 9000 and ISO 14000, suggests Jellison. As with ISO 9000, there is a hesitancy to accept ISO 14000, accompanied by a lack of clarity as to its use. This is partly because ISO standards come from outside the company, which, in turn, brings up questions of credibility, says Jellison. The standard approach is one of wait-and-see.

Tektronix integrates

Tektronix Inc., an international electronics firm headquartered in Wilsonville, Oregon, specializes in test measurement products, high-end color printers, video network display equipment and broadcast switching equipment. With 9,000 employees and $1.8 billion in annual sales, the company, which has three major divisions, has fully instituted ISO 9000 into all levels of one division to such a degree that the program has received full cultural acceptance.

"A company really has a huge advantage if the ISO 9000 system can be married with an EMS," claims Don Peters, corporate environmental, health and safety program manager. "We have actually already begun to institute an EMS with the ISO 9000-certified division. We have documents concerning new product introduction and rollout, of which product regulatory issues are a part. Now we are getting down to the design phase of new products, from concept forward.

They can take advantage of the existing system by blending in EMS issues with ISO 9000 management systems, says Peters. Potential hazardous components that they don't want are eliminated. The engineers who typically don't work on this are now forced to be part of the process in evaluating disassembly, recyclability and other designed-for-the-environment concepts. DFE involves ways of minimizing pollution early in the product design or process for building the product.

"An EMS system can share many of those same ISO 9000 structure elements," adds Peters. "We have buy-in from the work force on ISO 9000, and now we just need to add elements. It's not quite a panacea because we are dealing with manufacturing and quality issues, and a new element -- the environmental piece -- but, with staff who can relay those concepts and train and take part in the coaching, the EMS can fit right in."

Tektronix is thus far pretty flexible about ISO 14000, comments Peters. His role is to act as a barometer for emergent issues and to report what he learns to the company. ISO 14000 is a major commitment because of its demands as an ongoing system that requires continuous improvement, he says.

ISO 14000 drivers

Jellison says that the need to step up to ISO 14000 will indeed occur and that ISO-related standards have obvious credibility. In fact, Weyerhaeuser has more than 30 ISO 9000 certifications now. Their customers talk about ISO 9000 and are beginning to ask about ISO 14000. Weyerhaeuser's own trade association, American Forest and Paper Association, is studying ISO 14000 and addressed ISO 14000 issues at a February conference.

One of the differences Jellison sees between the emergence of ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 is that the latter is moving forward much faster. "To have trade associations interested in the standard when it has just been released is surprising," says Jellison. "Some competitors in Canada have already achieved ISO 14001 certification, and others in the United States are pursuing it. We have far more pressures than we had with ISO 9000, which was almost entirely customer-driven. Customers of box plants and paper mills said they thought we should use ISO 9000 as a framework for quality management systems because they themselves were using it and they felt it would work well for us. These customers added that -- by the way -- only certified companies would be on their suppliers' lists in five years.

"ISO 14000 is a different animal because the awareness is showing up on a number of fronts, with trade associations, customers and competitors, members of the community and regulatory agencies like the EPA talking about it. The level of awareness has been raised much earlier than with ISO 9000."

Integrating all systems

Traditionally, companies have been able to departmentalize their people, products and services, processes, problems and finances. The company was easier to manage that way because each group could have ownership of one small piece of the overall issue. Departmentalizing is easier to manage than to share the same functions throughout the company. Having to partner with other people in other departments gets more complicated and requires working on cross-functional processes. It is no longer simple to manage and it becomes harder to set goals, but, in fact, this is necessary.

Jellison offers an example of environmental goal-setting: To train internal auditors to be able to spend more time at the mills doing environmental audits. "If that goal is set by an environmental department that is managed separately from the mill locations and other departments, the right people may not get trained and there won't be integration with the business units so they can work on this together," offers Jellison.

It is more effective to have all these groups plan environmental goals together. In reality, each group owns financial, environmental, employee development, manufacturing, safety and health, and quality issues. Integration of management systems reduces duplication of efforts throughout a company.

Tektronix's environmental system is not just an EMS but an environmental health and safety management system. The company structure puts all of these elements in one group.

"We rolled out accountability and staffing to the divisions that are also EH&S coordinators, which is how this has been done for many years," explains Peters. "We also do self-audits to make sure we are on track. Our policy and program are online so employees know their roles and responsibilities in the program throughout the system.

"Training is also a big issue, so that employees know what to do. Each person has a certain piece of this."

With the structure and concepts in place, they are focusing on the training phase, which is turning out to be a huge undertaking. New employees must go through an orientation that includes watching videos and learning environmental, health and safety issues. This gives them a certain level of awareness before they even begin the job.

Tektronix may have less to do up front than most companies contemplating ISO 14000. "We know where we want to go," remarks Peters. "It's the rollout phase of training that will be the big step."

Peters speaks of Tier 1 as the corporate policy, Tier 2 as individual group guidelines and Tier 3 as the standards operating procedures, which are the actual work steps for the line worker. The company will evaluate each division's needs and allow each to proceed through their preferred effort level.

Financial aspects

"When I came up through the company, all we had to worry about were a few productivity indicators, such as how much we shipped and whether we met our productivity goals and cycle times," remembers Jellison. "Now, finance, manufacturing, and sales and marketing issues cross organizational boundaries and departments.

"Activity-based accounting systems and managing finance issues related to certain activities are a part of each business unit, which is right because they are closely related to manufacturing."

The financial and manufacturing goals must be planned in unison. Jellison sees many aspects of formerly separate functions merging, such as financial, environmental, safety and health, manufacturing, employee development and training.

Weyerhaeuser is currently in the midst of instituting total quality work systems throughout the company, one aspect of which examines each employee's role and responsibilities in the company. This, in turn, is causing the company to re-evaluate the way they do their work. One of the benefits of having instituted quality management systems is improved communication, which also contributes to this process and causes the company to rethink the entire organization. In quality and environmental management systems, they must look at parallels between documentation, online systems and software, and find that much of the same framework can be used for platforms for both.

How do safety and health fit in?

Jellison admits that, historically, safety and health has been treated as a separate function. In the cross-company teams on EMS and ISO 14001, safety and health issues are beginning to be drawn into the discussions. Safety issues related to the environment emerge in terms of targets and goal-setting, and there is discussion of including safety and health in environmental management systems auditing.

"We are not as far along as we could be at this point," notes Jellison. "At present, we still have separate safety and health audits."

It is important to note that audits apply not to due diligence, compliance, legal issues or company goals, but to a management system. It is also important to build a foundation with managers and employees so they understand what a management system is. Jellison reports that his biggest hurdle has been getting people to understand that a business management system like ISO 9000 or ISO 14000 is not a separate function but an overall company system.

Time frame

Realistically, institution of a completely integrated management system that includes quality, environmental, and safety and health issues is a long-term goal of several years, advises Jellison. In addition to the fact that it is difficult to convey the concept of a quality or environmental management system, employees are accustomed to a compliance model that focuses more on individual accountability for a small portion of the final process and product.

Introducing a new system that requires not only widespread cooperation and accountability in a much broader sense but also allows input from stakeholders is foreign to employees and can create anxiety. Comprehending the system and learning to team with other business units to share skills and set goals is a huge paradigm shift that may be difficult for some.

Individual accountability

When employees manage their own pieces and processes, they are not accountable for their impact on the company.

"We are saying that, from now on, we are going to reward employees on a basis of their overall impact on the company across the board, which means not just their departments anymore," says Jellison. "Now, rewards are based on what the employee contributes to the business units and to helping them understand management systems, and what the employee contributes to registrations. An employee may be asked to help a mill achieve certification and may have the following year's performance review based on the effectiveness of this assistance. The employee is suddenly accountable for something that is trackable and not entirely under his or her control. This can be out of the comfort range for some employees."

How can we make this happen?

The best way to create greater understanding is to keep talking about the management systems and to keep information about what various organizations are doing visible and accessible to employees and managers, says Jellison. People need to be willing to talk about the changes in the marketplace, the drivers and the things that need to change internally.

"We need to understand how these changes are going to impact us, then internalize this and act on it," explains Jellison. "We are not going to do this because it's a neat thing to do but, in fact, because it is the right thing to do, and we need to explain why this is so. We need to have these discussions so people understand why they are being asked to change.

"Likewise, people need to be able to give their feedback, with managers talking with employees about their concerns and needs for resources to meet their needs. The old top-down approach was quicker, but this was not very satisfying for employees. We are not that way at Weyerhaeuser; we are far more participative with employee involvement, so we can empower employees to act on these things."

Ayers suggests: "People can feel they have a vested interest in the system as it is, so they may be resistant to change. There are also internal costs involved that the company would need to bear. However, as more companies adopt integrated models, other companies will more readily accept it. Companies that are certified to ISO 9000 will find it easier to integrate ISO 14000. Joe Cascio [chairman of the U.S. Technical Advisory Group for ISO 14000] says that environmental aspects are so complex that one person can't handle them all."

Most companies have health and safety functions that are separate from environmental and quality. Many industry leaders have begun to combine these systems with their business processes for maximum financial, staffing and training efficiency. All interviewees agreed that ISO 14000 will become a very important issue for businesses, regulatory agencies and federal facilities. How and whether to integrate the functions will need to be determined by individual organizations according to their structures and needs.

About the author

Annette Dennis McCully, owner of McCully Technical Services in Kirkland, Washington, is a technical writer and science journalist who develops corporate policies, technical handbooks, marketing communications and newsletters. In addition to her articles on ISO 14000 issues that appear regularly in International Environmental System Update newsletter, published by CEEM Information Services, McCully developed several sections of CEEM's ISO 14000 Handbook and ISO 14000 Case Studies.

For more information, contact Annette McCully at McCully Technical Services, 14351-109th Ave. N.E., Kirkland, WA 98034. Telephone (206) 488-3480, fax (206) 485-9232 or e-mail amccully@aol.com.





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March 97 Quality Digest