Big ISO Standards for Big Organisations: change on the horizon

I know this might sounds like an oxymoron, but the world of ISO standards for QHSE is about to get interesting. You may ask: really? For most of my working life I’ve witnessed the mental shutters come down at the mere mention of words like ISO, quality and safety (though recently less so for the environment, as we’re all becoming aware of recycling and its impact on our daily lives).

Having been a QA engineer since 1982 and auditor for more than 20 years, I’ll generalise here and say that the typical workforce’s attitude towards ISO standards compliance falls into the same category as filling in tax returns or visiting the dentist; they’ll do it, but don’t have to actually like it. And if they don’t understand what this ISO standards stuff is all about then I don’t blame them, as I’ve seen some dreadfully complex management systems in my time.

Considering the corporate boast of ‘our people are our most important asset’, management system content often fails to progress far beyond the practices of the 1980s, when volumes of procedures were accessed from long lists of titles. ‘Ideal for SharePoint’, the IT people will tell you.

Changes to ISO standards are around the corner

And now for the exciting part.  Changes to the ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and the change from OHSAS 18001 standards to ISO 45001 are pretty significant. Every company will have to introduce some fairly major changes to their business management system for each respective standard.

For SMEs, the ISO changes should not prove to be overly difficult to implement; however, this could be different for some large organisations. If they have a network of global offices and remote work sites – which in turn have formulated their own independent Q,H&S,E  Management Systems – things can get tricky. It’s an approach which, in my opinion, is wrong on a number of points:

  1. Developing work practices per region is expensive
  2. Best practice is never adopted due to individual ways of working
  3. Complexity is added to the overall management system
  4. It prevents cross-regional information sharing

Each business unit/region might feel special by having its own unique management system, but the silos that are formed hinder collaboration and information sharing.

But back to Big ISO. Large organisations tend to have single ISO certificates covering multiple locations but have many duplicate documents that need individual verification by the audit body. The reason for this is that updating the individual Q, H&S, E system contents will be an extremely onerous and time consuming task.

A Business Management System for the New Standards Era

All of which brings me to the punchline: Agility is a Business Management software solution designed by QHSE experts for controlling your QHSE business management in BIG organisations; that’s our market, our specialty and, perhaps sadly, our passion.

There are changes in the ISO standards about being process based and also around risk-based thinking; we have that well covered. The Agility system integrates risks and controls straight into processes and documents while also linking them with roles. So not only do your personnel get the right processes and documents – they also know the associated risks and controls they need to follow to work safely, correctly and efficiently.

For the amateur ISO standards geeks out there, the governors of ISO (International Organization of Standardization) have created Annex SL which states that ‘the requirements of the management system are integrated into the organisation’s business processes’.

Fortunately, at Businessport, we have been ahead of this particular curve with our process-based integrated management system Agility which distributes your BMS/QHSE systems to all work areas via the browser. The integrated approach simplifies each standard, and utilises documents multiple times. More than that, by adopting swim lane process mapping in place of text-based documents (where possible). These highly visual process maps provide each discipline and individual with access to information more quickly and easily, and it will also be simpler to understand.

All these features are aimed at making your BMS/QHSE System accessible to everyone, involving all disciplines and integrating compliance and accountability across the whole organisation, swiftly and efficiently.

Is your Organisation ready for ISO Standards Change?

Big ISO standards force large organisations to change to accommodate the new demands, but the message here is this: why continue to use traditional document management when less complex, more cost effective systems are readily available for installation (client server or via the cloud) to simplify compliance and reduce duplication? I told you this could get interesting.

My next blog will touch on the changes that the ISO 9001 will involve. So if you really want to become that ISO geek that your colleagues will admire, stay tuned…

Written by Peter Shields, Managing Director, BusinessPort Ltd

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