What are the Benefits of an Integrated Management System (IMS)?

Designing scalable systems

When helping clients with management systems, we often get asked: 

  1. What are the benefits of an Integrated Management System (IMS)?    
  1. What does an IMS look like? 

Your objectives

It is important to understand your organisational context, and requirements when considering the adoption of an IMS. For many organisations, certification against ISO 45001 health and safety, ISO 14001 environmental and ISO 9001 quality (HSEQ) is often a goal. For others, certification is less relevant and integrating multiple business systems and processes is a greater priority.  

IMS Design

Your organisation’s context and requirements should consider internal / external stakeholder needs and expectations, internal and external issues, as well as legal and other requirements. The scope of your management system should align with these requirements and objectives. Regardless of the scope, adopting the ISO management system principles of Plan-Do-Check-Review, often allows flexibility for the content to scale and change, while keeping the same overall structure.   

The Level of Integration

Integrating different components of an IMS can have huge organisational benefits. There are a few considerations when deliberating between centralised vs decentralised levels of integration.  

Business Function Processes

Based on the management system scope, integrating processes for business functions can create efficiencies, scalability, and value creation e.g.,  

  • Integrating system process across Health & Safety, Security, Environment and Quality 
  • Integrating common training processes for HR, Safety and Procurement.

Aligning the level of management system integration with organisation design and structure is often a good guide, .e.g., cultures that are highly collaborative, simple businesses, with centralised shared service functions, often benefit from a highly centralised IMS. Whereas large, highly complex and diverse organisations may benefit from a more decentralised management system/s.   

“Knowledge is a process of piling up facts; wisdom lies in their simplification.”

Martin H Fischer

Document Hierarchy & Mapping

One vs. multiple documents covering the same subject area, is also a key consideration. The decision on the volume of documents is often influenced by the end-user needs, nature, and maturity of the business, e.g.,  

  • One IMS HSEQ Policy vs three standalone policies 
  • One IMS Manual or multiple standalone documents, covering the same content
  • The relationship and mapping with other potential documents such as site Management Plans, Safe Work Methods, Registers, Forms and other tools.
RM Watson IMS Triple Certification

So What to do?

A few ideas and options to help: 

  • Benchmark industry leading practices 
  • Seek expert help or an independent fresh set of eyes to audit 
  • Utilise technology to simplify documents 
  • Consult the end users 
  • Complete process mapping and integrate documents with the aim to simplify. 

Additional Resources

FEFO Consulting offer free assessments to organisations considering management system improvements contact us

If you are interested in construction Federal Safety Commissioner accreditation, refer to our Case Study on achieving OFSC Accreditation and 5 Steps to FSC Accreditation Guide. 

For those more interested in investing more in culture vs systems, refer to our Case Study on Building an Effective Safety Culture.   

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