An integrated management system (IMS) refers to the seamless integration of several different standards into a common system that meets the requirements of each of the standards. This allows the organization to work as a single unit with unified objectives.
When integrating several standards into one system the organization needs to take certain things into account:
- The standards being integrated along with their level of integration needs to be clearly considered and defined. Typically ISO 9001, 14001, and OHSAS 18001 are integrated into one system but it is not limited to just these standards. Organizations should look for commonalities between the different management system standards when choosing which ones to implement together, e.g. Plan-Do-Check-Act Approach to management and process control.
- Any measure taken should be consistent with the basic objective of the system, i.e. does it help in achieving the business plan, and do they suit the size and complexity of the organization. One should think carefully before establishing extensively documented procedures in case they do not align with the organizational culture and practices.
- The implementation of an IMS can have a considerable impact on how an organization operates and manages its business processes.
Some of the benefits of an IMS include:
- Meeting all standards’ requirements with one set of policies and procedures.
- Increased efficiency and effectiveness.
- Reductions in costs associated with audits.
- Displays commitment to continuous improvement for the organization as a whole.
- Presents a clear uniform image of the whole organization.
- Reduces duplication, bureaucracy and maximizes resources.
- Increases time available to management to implement proactive measures.
- Improves internal and external communications