Integrated management systems - Common elements - Part 2


In this post I continue with the analysis of the common elements that the management system standards contain, within the high level structure of those standards.

It is interesting to observe all the efforts that have been made by the ISO/TMB/JTCG “Joint technical Coordination Group on MSS in recent years to facilitate the use of this kind of standards, trough the HLS.

This High Level Structure (HLS) allows  management system standards to maintain an equivalent structure, the same and identical titles of clauses and sub-clauses, identical text and common terms and core definitions.

In order to facilitate the understanding of this HLS, we will analyse each of the clauses of the management systems standards, and in this post we begin with the first three of them which, although they are part of the technical body of these standards, contain valuable but non normative information, that is, these clauses do not establish requirements.

Clause 1. Scope

This first clause should give us the first approximation to the type of information that each standard contains.

This element must appear at the beginning of the normative body of each of these standards and must indicate that it establishes requirements for the management system of its corresponding discipline, and, where appropriate, if it contains guidelines for its use.

It must define under what conditions the standard should be used, and what type of organizations should use it, and what benefits it may generate for them with its use.

It must define without ambiguity the subject and the aspects covered by the standard, thus indicating the limits of applicability of that  standard or of any particular parts of it.

This clause is informative and should not contain requirements.

In management systems standards, the scope is specific to each discipline, so each standard contains its own wording.

Clause 2. Normative references

All management system standards developed under the HLS shall name this clause as such, and the content must be specific to the discipline.

This item should provide a list of current normative documents that are referenced in the standard and that are indispensable for its application.

The documents referred to must be international standards, or equivalent national standards, when this one is also an equivalent national standard, and where appropriate, this clause may be wording in a manner similar to the following: “The documents listed below, in whole or in part, are standards for consultation that are essential for the application of this document. For dated references, only the edition cited applies. For undated references, the latest edition (including any modification of this) applies”.

If you do not have this type of normative references, it should be indicated in the text of the standard.

Clause 3. Terms and definitions.-

Clause Title shall be used. Terms and definitions may either be within the standard or in a separate document.

Usually, this is a conditional element that establishes the necessary definitions for the understanding of certain terms used in the standard. The following introductory wording should be used, when all terms and definitions are provided in the same standard: "For the purposes of this standard, the following terms and definitions apply."

If these terms and definitions are stated in a different standard, then it is used the next wording: “For the purposes of this document, the terms and definitions given in ____ (standard identification) apply”.  And if it`s needed to complement those: "For the purposes of this standard, the terms and definitions given in ____ (standard identification) apply and the following are applicable."

Common terms and core definitions shall be stated as well as others that are discipline specific.

The arrangement of terms and definitions should preferably be listed according to the hierarchy of the concepts (i.e. systematic order). Alphabetical order is the least preferred order.

For the purposes of these management system standards, the following terms and definitions apply.

The following terms and definitions constitute an integral part of the common text for management system standards. Additional terms and definitions can be added as needed. Notes can be added or modified to meet the purpose of each standard.

I consider it is important to include in this post these twenty-one terms and definitions common to the management system standards developed under the HLS, because I am convinced that they are terms that every professional in this fields should know fully.

Italic font in a definition indicates a cross-reference to another term defined in this clause, and the reference number for the term is given in parentheses.

Where the text “XXX” appears throughout this clause, the appropriate reference should be inserted depending on the context in which these terms and definitions are being applied. For example: “an XXX objective” could be substituted as “an environmental objective”.

3.1   organization

person or group of people that has its own functions with responsibilities, authorities and relationships to achieve its objectives (3.8)

Note 1 to entry: The concept of organization includes, but is not limited to, sole-trader, company, corporation, firm, enterprise, authority, partnership, charity or institution, or part or combination thereof, whether incorporated or not, public or private.

3.2   interested party (preferred term)

stakeholder (admitted term)

person or organization (3.1) that can affect, be affected by, or perceive itself to be affected by a decision or activity

3.3   requirement

need or expectation that is stated, generally implied or obligatory

Note 1 to entry: “Generally implied” means that it is custom or common practice for the organization and interested parties that the need or expectation under consideration is implied.

Note 2 to entry: A specified requirement is one that is stated, e.g. in documented information.

3.4   management system

set of interrelated or interacting elements of an organization (3.1) to establish policies (3.7) and objectives (3.8) and processes (3.12) to achieve those objectives.

Note 1 to entry: A management system can address a single discipline or several disciplines.

Note 2 to entry: The system elements include the organization’s structure, roles and responsibilities, planning and operation.

Note 3 to entry: The scope of a management system can include the whole of the organization, specific and identified functions of the organization, specific and identified sections of the organization, or one or more functions across a group of organizations.

3.5   top management

person or group of people who directs and controls an organization (3.1) at the highest level.

Note 1 to entry: Top management has the power to delegate authority and provide resources within the organization.

Note 2 to entry: If the scope of the management system (3.4) covers only part of an organization, then top management refers to those who direct and control that part of the organization.

3.6   effectiveness

extent to which planned activities are realized and planned results achieved

3.7   policy

intentions and direction of an organization (3.1), as formally expressed by its top management (3.5)

3.8   objective

result to be achieved

Note 1 to entry: An objective can be strategic, tactical, or operational.

Note 2 to entry: Objectives can relate to different disciplines (such as financial, health and safety, and environmental goals) and can apply at different levels (such as strategic, organization-wide, project, product and process (3.12)).

Note 3 to entry: An objective can be expressed in other ways, e.g. as an intended outcome, a purpose, an operational criterion, as an XXX objective, or by the use of other words with similar meaning (e.g. aim, goal, or target).

Note 4 to entry: In the context of XXX management systems, XXX objectives are set by the organization, consistent with the XXX policy, to achieve specific results.

3.9   risk

effect of uncertainty

Note 1 to entry: An effect is a deviation from the expected — positive or negative.

Note 2 to entry: Uncertainty is the state, even partial, of deficiency of information related to, understanding or knowledge of, an event, its consequence, or likelihood.

Note 3 to entry: Risk is often characterized by reference to potential “events” (as defined in ISO Guide 73) and “consequences” (as defined in ISO Guide 73), or a combination of these.

Note 4 to entry: Risk is often expressed in terms of a combination of the consequences of an event (including changes in circumstances) and the associated “likelihood” (as defined in ISO Guide 73) of occurrence.

3.10 competence

ability to apply knowledge and skills to achieve intended results

3.11 documented information

information required to be controlled and maintained by an organization (3.1) and the medium on which it is contained

Note 1 to entry: Documented information can be in any format and media, and from any source.

Note 2 to entry: Documented information can refer to:

 the management system (3.4), including related processes (3.12);

— information created in order for the organization to operate (documentation);

   evidence of results achieved (records).

3.12 process

set of interrelated or interacting activities which transforms inputs into outputs

3.13 performance

measurable result

Note 1 to entry: Performance can relate either to quantitative or qualitative findings.

Note 2 to entry: Performance can relate to managing activities, processes (3.12), products (including services), systems or organizations  (3.1).

3.14 outsource (verb)

make an arrangement where an external  organization (3.1) performs part of an organization’s function or process (3.12)

Note 1 to entry: An external organization is outside the scope of the management system (3.4), although the outsourced function or process is within the scope.

3.15 monitoring

determining the status of a system, a process (3.12) or an activity

Note 1 to entry: To determine the status, there can be a need to check, supervise or critically observe.

3.16 measurement

process (3.12) to determine a value.

3.17 audit

systematic, independent and documented  process (3.12) for obtaining audit evidence and evaluating it objectively to determine the extent to which the audit criteria are fulfilled.

Note 1 to entry: An audit can be an internal audit (first party) or an external audit (second party or third party), and it can be a combined audit (combining two or more disciplines).

Note 2 to entry: An internal audit is conducted by the organization itself, or by an external party on its behalf.

Note 3 to entry: Audit evidence” and “audit criteria” are defined in ISO 19011.

3.18 conformity

fulfilment of a requirement (3.3)

3.19 nonconformity

non-fulfilment of a requirement (3.3)

3.20 corrective action

action to eliminate the cause(s) of a  nonconformity (3.19) and to prevent recurrence

3.21 continual improvement

recurring activity to enhance performance (3.13)

These are the common terms and core definitions that will be found in all management system standards, but depending on each discipline, others may be included.

In the following post I will be starting the analysis of the Clause 4.  Context of the Organization.


Ernesto Palomares Hilton