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Introduction:

Integrated Management System or IMS for short, merges the separate systems into a unit to allow you to treat it as a whole and save resources. 

IMS is a cost-effective solution in the competitive business arena where you need to stay ahead of the game without losing your edge. 

Integrated Management System provides you a holistic picture of your business and seamlessly integrates all the systems, for example, quality, environmental, compliance, regularities, risks, and associations with the system.  

Ultimately, all organizations run formal or informal systems. By having systems in silos, the organizations don’t realize how much extra data and duplications are being created which in turn creates extra work for their employees.

Many environmental, quality control, and safety systems follow almost similar guidelines. By consolidating these systems into an integrated management system you avoid the redundancies which otherwise, can run rampant in an organization.  

Why is an integrated management system required?

IMS are used by multiple organizations around the world to improve their overall standard and portfolio, along with enhancing the services these businesses offer globally. 

The integrated system helps them to track and expand the business effectively while also saving resources. This helps businesses stay ahead and offers them a competitive advantage.

It is also important to notice that using these systems separately causes dissociation between action and objectives, backlogs, accountability, and also increases bureaucracy. Hence, it is important to treat health, security, quality, environment systems under an IMS which provides cohesiveness to the business and organization.  

Benefits of an Integrated Management System

Integrated management systems are easy and user-friendly. Their benefits cannot be ignored as they can have a huge impact on the overall efficiency and efficacy of the business. 

With an integrated system, each part works in alignment towards a single objective without any confusion. The dedicated teams help organizations achieve targets in less time and resources. 

Apart from the aforementioned benefits some other benefits of IMS include:

  • Commitment to innovate: IMS shows the commitment of your organization towards the innovation and growth which it envisioned at the first step. 
  • Improved Performance: with an integrated management system the overall performance of the business improves as they strive to do more by utilizing less. 
  • Reduction in audit costs: By utilizing an integrated system, you don’t need to audit each system separately. Instead, you can audit the single integrated management system once a year and save huge amounts of resources and time.
  • Elimination of Redundancy: One of the most common benefits is that you can treat the different systems as a whole. The processes, procedures, reports are similar to all the systems. For example, you can treat training, document control quality assurance on a single level despite these aspects coming from different systems. This eliminates the redundancy and in return the cost. 
  • Establish Consistency: Integrated management system establishes consistency throughout the organization. The consistency in the system then allows for efficient actions and makes objectives easier to understand. Hence, the focus of the organization shifts towards achieving the aim and objectives. 
  • Diminish Bureaucracy:  The layers of hierarchy in the organization affects decision-making process which in turn creates confusion among teams and managers. Integrated management system allows for the groups to come together on a single point and hence helps to reduce bureaucracy. 
  • Accountability: When different systems come and work together, it improves the working environment and accountability among teams. Integrated management system becomes a pivotal point for the organization to achieve the set of objectives within the defined time frame. 
  • Enhance Communication: Teams from different systems come together for similar procedures and processes. This enhances communication within an organization. Instead of working in silos, members communicate with others and find solutions for combined problems together. 
  • Reduce Maintenance: Usually, quality management and environment systems work together. Similarly, different managements become one and integrated which reduces the maintenance needed for the systems to run smoothly. 
  • Optimization of Resources: The focus shifts towards offering value to customers and partners when the systems work together. They strive to optimize the resources and push towards perfection in delivering the services. 
  • Facilitate the Decision Making: Integrated management system facilitates the decision-making capability among stakeholders. With bureaucracy among team members reduced, everyone can strive towards the betterment of the system as a whole.

How to implement an integrated management system?

The IMS expert, Joe Kelly, delves deeper into the process and suggests ten major steps to implement the IMS successfully in your organization. 

These 10 steps are as follows: 

  1. Training for Awareness: to motivate your employees and managers to use the new system it is highly recommended to hold training for awareness purposes organization-wide. Separate training for every level of managers helps you to easily embed the new system in the core of the business. 
  2. Align Objectives & Policies: the second step is to align the vision, mission, and objectives of the businesses with the quality management policy/health and safety management policy/risk management policy and any other system’s policy which you plan to integrate with the main system. It allows smooth progress and consistency in the actions. 
  3. Analysis of System compliance gap: it is necessary to understand the context of your businesses, the internal gap in the existing compliance practices regarding those systems which are going to be implemented, and the existing requirements of the operations in the organization. Identification and comparison of the systems help us in gaining insights into the outcome and choose the best one. 
  4. The Process Design: write down every set of instructions, procedures, documentation of every step that comes in the process design. The written map helps understand and implement the whole process without getting overwhelmed. 
  5. The Process Implementing: it is time to implement whatever you have documented in step four. You can share and follow the map with the concerned departments for smooth implementation. 
  6. Internal Audit: you can carry out internal audits in the organization without hassle. IMS aids you to not just audit the compliance policies but also ensures their effectiveness and bridges the gaps in the system. 
  7. Review Meeting: after implementing the whole process it is necessary to review it with your management. The Review can help identify objectives, the extent to which results were gained through the system, process performance, feedback from the team, compliance with the system, and much more. The meeting can be crucial to understand and map the future objectives and strategies of the organization. 
  8. Pre-Certification Gap Analysis: this time, the internal gap analysis can go deeper as the IMS has been implemented and it can provide valuable insights on the processes and results achieved through it.It also serves as the pre-certification gap to analyze the compliance degree. The internal gap analysis provides you an idea of how to conduct the final certification audit for your business. 
  9. Corrective Actions: The organization is ready for final certification as per the gap analysis. The nonconformities will be provided with the corrective actions if needed, and the significant NCs should all be closed. 
  10. Final Certification Audit: at this step, the organization is hopefully ready for the final certification registration. 

Examples of Integrated Management Systems:

The main purpose of integrating a management system is to avoid the duplication of the documents and efforts in the business. For that purpose, it is important to bring together the standard for internal audits, corrective actions, document control, management review, and dealing with nonconformities. 

Many organizations commonly make use of the combination of quality ISO 9001, an environment ISO 14001, and occupational health and safety management system OHSAS 18001 as the pertinent IMS and enhance its effectiveness. Apart from that recently, a risk management system has also been added as part of the above-mentioned systems in IMS.  

This is the most common example of the IMS and is used widely around the globe. 

Advantages of an integrated management system:

Implementing an efficient IMS in the organization can be a cost-effective strategy to process several kinds of systems under an umbrella. This comes with its advantages and disadvantages. Apart from being logical and well planned, it can become cumbersome, to say the least. 

Let’s look at its advantages first: 

  • It develops a positive culture in one discipline which can be picked up by others also. 
  • An IMS can be a cost-effective solution and can sustain in the limited resources. 
  • The integrated system reduces the possibility of error in another system by resolving the errors in one system. 
  • The duplication of data reduces significantly whether electronic data, in meetings, or software. 
  • The processes and objectives of the Systems are essentially the same. 
  • The timely review meetings help to avoid malpractice and identify the areas which show positive results. 

Disadvantages of the integrated management system:

Integration can lead to lengthy documents and several meetings which could potentially hamper the growth of the organization. 

Moreover, a department that was doing fine in a separate set up could potentially struggle in a combined environment which may lead to inefficiency and could also effect the performance of others.

Furthermore, the quality standards management is related to customer service while environmental and health/safety standards are purely underpinned in legislation. The irrelevance may stagnate the growth of the organization.  

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