Development of integrated management systems (IMS)

Welcome to this blog, in which we analize tha different management systems standards and their requirements. We hope you find here information interesting for you.
In recent years, something that has been made commonly for organizations is to establish integrated management systems based on standardsThis happens when an organization  establishes a single management system that allows it to meet and control the requirements of different management system standardsIt is no longer rare to find organizations that have a management system that covers requirements of  environmental, quality, occupational health and safety management standards, among others.
It seems that this integration of management systems was a simple passing fad. In fact, in Mexico several organizations have established this type of systems on recommendation of consultants, which some have found in these schemes a streak of professional activity. I do not see this badly, but we should be careful in this approach that entrepreneurs and top management people understand and accept it properly, not only in terms of the financial aspect of their implementation, but also in the responsibility they will have in their design, establishment, operation and improvement.
I am convinced that most organizations should, if appropriate, establish management systems in an integrated manner. I see it as something logical. Most organizations should comply with a series of legal, regulatory, contractual and other requirements asked by their customers or other interested organizations, in a variety of aspects. For this reason, these organizations should establish all the necessary control mechanisms to be able to ensure and demonstrate that they meet all these requirements. And that is what management systems are for, and more when they are supported by recognized standards, because in those cases, the requirements to be met are established in an objective manner.
I would like to tell you how this started with integrated management systems. As you probably know, and it has already been mentioned in other entries in this blog, the first international standards of management systems were those of quality, of ISO 9000 family, in 1987. Those that were considered most important of that group, the ISO 9001ISO 9002 and ISO 9003, because they were the ones that established requirements, and therefore were certifiable, had a relatively simple structure with 20, 19 or 13 requirements, depending on the type of activities carried out by the organization that would established this system, which in those standards, was called “supplier”.

The ISO 9001 standard established requirements for organizations that carried out practically all kinds of productive activities, from the design/ development of their products, manufacturing, installation to customer service, and was made up of 20 requirements. ISO 9002 applied to organizations that carried out production and installation activities, and had 19 requirements. These were the same as those of ISO 9001, except the “design control” requirement. ISO 9003 applied to organizations that did not design nor manufacture their products, but carried out inspection and final testing activities, with 13 requirements.

As you can see, in its initial stages, ISO 9000 family of standards carried a clear orientation to the manufacturing industries.

In that group of standards was already the ISO 9004 standard that established guidelines to meet all requirements of quality assurance models, but included some other subjective elements of quality systems, so the demonstration of its application could not be done by objective means, so this standard, even though it has been of great value to those who have wanted to establish a quality management system as complete as possible, has never been certifiable.

The ISO 9000 family of standards consider  themselves that quality management can be divided into four parts:

• Quality planning,
• Quality control,
• Quality assurance, and
• Quality improvement.

That is why in these initial stages, these models were called quality assurance, since they did not include quality system improvement requirements. The way in which these standards of requirements and elements of quality systems were visualized, in 1987, was as follows:

From the publication of these standards, a growing wave of interest was unleashed for its application in practically the whole world. Mainly, by companies that for more than six years actively participated in its development, and just behind them, those that were pending the publication of this standard, began to generate a lot of information about the application of this standard. In the countries of Latin America we started a little later with these experiences, but after all, we began to understand and learn about the systematized and standardized management of quality.

With all that experience that was being generated by the application of these standards, for Technical Committee 176 of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), responsible for the development of these standards, it was very easy to detect that most companies were having difficulties in understanding and complying with the various requirements of these standards. This led to a very quick start in the revision of these standards of the ISO 9000 family, and to be enriched with a series of complementary guidelines to help better understand the requirements that had generated complications for their understanding. This family of standards, together with the new complementary ones, was published in 1994. Among the guidelines standards published at this stage, were those which provided guidelines for the application of the ISO 9001 standard for companies that developed software, also for those of processed materials and of service providers.

All this effort to update and enrich the ISO 9000 standards meant that it was lost sight of the fact that in that period another technical committee had been created in ISO, the TC 207, in order to establish environmental management system standards, which were finally published in 1996 as the ISO 14000 family.

Although for the development of these standards they relied heavily on ISO 9000 standards, which were so successful, they established their own conceptual model and particular characteristics of environmental management systems.

These standards were very well received worldwide, and their massive implementation began. Practically, all companies that were already implementing ISO 9000 standards had to comply with technical regulations regarding environmental performance, so it was easy to decide to implement the ISO 14001 standard also. Thus, companies that already had established a quality management system, applying an ISO 9000 model, began with the establishment of its environmental management system, in compliance with ISO 14001.

In Mexico we had a particular situation, since when the ISO 14000 Family standards were published,  ISO organized a large event in Mexico to present these standards to representatives of all productive sectors, which promoted many entrepreneurs learned about the possible benefits of these standards. However, we had great interference from a government agency responsible for compliance with environmental regulations, called the Federal Office of Environmental Protection (PROFEPA), which considered absurdly that this family of standards, being voluntary, could hinder their enforcement functions of environmental performance of the companies, since this was based on technical regulations of mandatory compliance. It took nearly four years for those responsible for this agency to understand that the application of ISO 14001, instead of obstructing their work, would help them in an important way so that organizations could fulfill their obligations regarding their environmental performance. In the next post I will continue with this issue of the development of integrated management systems based on standards.


Ernesto Palomares Hilton