What is Integrated Management System (ISMS)
A management system is a set of policies, processes and procedures used by an organisation to ensure that it can fulfil the tasks required to achieve its objectives. Therefore, an Integrated Sustainability Management System (ISMS) is a complete framework that combines all aspects of an organisation’s systems, processes, and any standards that the business follows to achieve desired business goals in a sustainable manner. The standards include ISO 26000 Social Responsibility, ISO 45001 Occupational Health and Safety, ISO 14001 Environmental Management and ISO 9001 Quality Management. This combined system allows a business to meet all its obligations, addressing all elements of the management system as a whole rather than looking at the individual standards and their requirements separately.
A successful ISMS will reduce the duplication of effort often encountered when running multiple management systems. For example, if a business is running ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and ISO 45001 this may result in the duplication of the processes needed for performing internal audits or recording non-conformities as all three standards require businesses to put measures in place for these actions. An ISMS allows these processes to be combined so that they simultaneously cover all standard-specific requirements.
Integration has become easier in recent years, as ISO Standards move towards using the Annex SL high-level structure. Annex SL-based standards share a similar structure, making it much more straightforward to see where the similarities and shared processes within each standard lie.
What are the benefits of implementing an ISMS?
The organization will obtain multiple certifications – ISO 45001, ISO 14001 and ISO 9001 while recognizing ISO 26000 Social Responsibility with one certification audit process. An ISMS also has the potential to reduce the time taken to perform external audits. With potentially fewer documents to review and the processes covering multiple standards, an auditor can be more efficient with their time. A shorter audit duration could reduce the cost of the visit itself and in turn mean that any staff involved with an audit can return to their usual activities more quickly. Because of these time savings, costs are also reduced. In addition to the time saved by auditors and staff, the senior management team will notice they can also make more effective use of their time. Management Review meetings for an ISMS will cover all standards leading to fewer, more productive meetings.
With regards to sustainability assurance and reporting, ISMS ensures organisations are more aware of their sustainability issues and keeps records of all processes, management reviews, internal audits and continual improvement processes therefore an organisation can produce an accurate ESG management report within minutes of month-end, quickly access monthly/quarterly management reporting for top management review, easy assurance engagements and able to produce accurate sustainability reports based on any global reporting standard within days.
ISMS as a sustainable strategy success can contribute to continuous improvement, increase competitive advantage, provide opportunities to improve relationships with stakeholders including host communities, access new business opportunities, improve organisational performance, guarantee investor confidence, meet regulatory requirements such as OH&S and Environmental standards, provide for national and international recognition with globally recognised multiple ISO certifications, etc.
Where can I get help implementing an ISMS?
IN-CSR’s Integrated Sustainability Management System Diagram showcases our innovative cost saving sustainability management solutions in line with global best practices. We plan, integrate, assess and recommend continual improvement processes on an integrated framework aimed at achieving conformity with different management standards specifically ISO 45001 Occupational Health and Safety, ISO 14001 Environmental Management and ISO 9001 Quality Management while recognizing ISO 26000 Social Responsibility all at same time. The organisation may also decide to implement other combinations for instance ISO 26000 SR and ISO 45000 OH&S or ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 or even a single management system depending on organizational need.
By Eustace Onuegbu (President: IN-CSR)