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Integrated Management Systems

Learn about Integrated Management Systems, its purpose, benefits, how to implement it, get certified and more.

What are Integrated Management Systems?

An Integrated Management System (IMS) combines more than one management system. The combination could be ISO 9001 QMS/ISO 14001 EMS, ISO 9001 QMS/ISO 45001 OHSMS, ISO 14001 EMS/ISO 45001 OHSMS and ISO 9001 QMS/ISO 14001 EMS/ISO 45001OHSMS. The other management systems such as the Information Security Management System and Risk Management System can also be part of IMS. The acronyms used are QHSE, QEHS, HSE, EHS etc.

Integrated Management System is also called Combined Management System. Integrated Management System/Systems have been gaining popularity since 2015 when ISO introduced High Level Structure HLS Annex SL. This Annex SL structure simplifies the implementation of multiple standards within an organization. The aim of Annex SL is to create consistency and alignment between ISO’s various management standards into an Integrated Management System. This creates efficiencies when integrating two or more standards.

integrated management system

What are the 4 integrated management systems?

Following are the 4 integrated management systems:

  • ISO 9001/45001 IMS (QOHSMS)
  • ISO 9001/14001 IMS (QEMS)
  • ISO 14001/45001 IMS (EHSMS)
  • ISO 9001/45001/14001 IMS (QEHSMS)

Purpose of an IMS

Integrated Management System (IMS) empowers every organization, whether small, medium, or large, for achieving and bolstering sustainable development by employing standards such as IMS, ISO 14001, and ISO 45001. If designed and implemented ‘right the first time’, the IMS is an excellent tool for improving market share, profit margins, customer loyalty, environmental protection, workplace health & safety enhancement through process model and risk-based business management. 

How are Integrated Management Systems structured?

The High-Level Structure (HLS) was introduced by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) to give management system standards a uniform structure and similar core content as well as terms and definitions. The aim behind this is to improve the alignment of different ISO standards by means of a cross-standard structure for an Integrated Management System.

HLS has been prepared using the harmonized structure (i.e. identical clause numbers, clause titles, text and common terms and core definitions) intended to enhance alignment among Management System Standards (MSS) and to facilitate their implementation for organizations that need to meet the requirements of two or more such standards.

According to Annex SL, a Management System Standard should follow the structure:[5]

  1. Scope
  2. Normative references
  3. Terms and definitions
  4. Context of the organization
  5. Leadership
  6. Planning
  7. Support
  8. Operation
  9. Performance evaluation
  10. Improvement

The requirements within various clauses above could differ depending upon the nature of the management system but the 10 clause titles always remain the same.

How are Integrated Management Systems technically created using HLS Structure?

The common clauses are addressed using requirements of all standards to be integrated into the IMS. For example, addressing ISO 9001 clause 5.2, ISO14001 clause 5.2 and ISO 45001 clause 5.2 requirements for policy into an IMS Policy clause 5.2.

Once all common clauses have been covered then unique/specific clauses of various single standards can be addressed. This could include addressing ISO 14001 Environmental Aspects clause and ISO 45001 Hazard identification and Assessment clause.

Benefits of Integrated Management Systems

Integrated Management Systems benefits in terms of process optimization 

The benefits of an Integrated Management System are realized in general terms as cost savings, efficiency improvements, bureaucracy breakdown, streamlining, auditing, redundancy elimination, user-friendliness, enhanced team approach and accountability. 

Optimize Processes and Resources

In an integrated management system, it is more transparent and obvious to optimize the process that takes into account quality, environmental and OHS requirements compared to optimizing individual processes. Same is true for resources. 

Integrated Management Systems benefits in terms of eliminating redundancies 

Implementing multiple management system standards through IMS aligns the standards to find common or single management system clauses. These may include policies, objectives, processes or resources. This, for example, allows you may be able to have a single procedure for risk management, process identification, training, document control, management reviews, internal audits or improvements. When implementing more than one standard at a time i.e. IMS, it enables you to find these similarities which can save your organization a great amount of time, and in return money.

Integrated Management Systems benefits in terms of accountability 

Integrating multiple management systems at a time into an IMS to establish cohesive objectives, processes, and resources, with the alignment of the systems, improvement in accountability are realized. For example, an organization may have three different managers to manage quality, environment and OHS separately, but with IMS, one Director can fill in shoes of three managers, thereby enhancing accountability. 

Integrated Management Systems benefits in terms of reducing bureaucracy 

Bureaucracy stems from redundancy amongst various management systems. Generally, when multiple management standards are implemented and not integrated, issues crop up due to the inability to streamline decisions caused by the disconnected hierarchy. When the management systems are integrated through IMS, a systematic approach is realized. This enhances change management resulting in reduced bureaucracy.

Integrated Management Systems benefits in terms of cost reduction 

Integrated Management Systems allows conducting integrated audits and assessments leading to cost reduction. On the contrary, looking for various documents in multiple management systems is time consuming. In addition, the documents spread over multiple systems could conflict with each other, resulting in excessive time for implementation. Moreover, operators expected to make accurate judgement calls on the same issue from multiple management system documents is too confusing and time consuming.

Integrated Management Systems benefits in terms of cost savings 

Establishing and implementing an Integrated Management System comparatively requires less effort and resources compared to stand-alone management systems being managed separately. This is achieved through application of High-Level Structure HLS Annex SL. The savings are realized in lower operating and maintenance costs. 

Integrated Management Systems benefits in terms of integrated audits

Integrated audits use less auditing hours, free management and employees from being audited multiple times, and issue integrated audit reports.

Integrated Management Systems benefits in terms of establishing consistency

With IMS approach, an organization can create better consistency of the management systems in terms of content, style, review and approval. With consistency, the system will become simpler, easy to follow and understood. Consistency also provides improved focus on achieving a common set of objectives that are aligned with its strategic direction.

benefits of Integrated management systems

What’s Included in Integrated Management Systems (IMS)?

The management system that can be included in integrated management system are as follows:

Steps to an Integrated Management System (IMS)

Jack Sekhon and Associates assists organizations in getting IMS certification from concept through IMS certificate in a practical, sequential and easily understood language. This assistance could be face to face or virtual online. Here are some of the key steps required for IMS certification:

  • Gap analysis of existing practices vs IMS Standards requirements.
  • Understanding of process approach and risk-based thinking.
  • Identification of documented information.
  • Developing documented information -IMS on paper.
  • Implementing IMS-Rolling it out.
  • Performance evaluation of IMS.
  • Stage 1 audit.
  • Stage 2 audit.
  • Continual improvement.

How can JSA help you Implement an IMS?

It is as easy as picking up the phone or sending an email to open up the dialogue for your IMS certification project with Jack Sekhon and Associates. Jack Sekhon P.Eng will personally receive/return your call in a timely manner and lay the framework for your IMS certification project. Jack Sekhon and Associates has a 36 step implementation plan for your IMS certification project. Here are highlights of that 36-point implementation plan for IMS certification project:

  • Secure senior management commitment and leadership for IMS certification project
  • Establish IMS certification project scope i.e. complete certification, on-demand consulting/consultant role, on-demand audit management and fractional consulting on contract.
  • Engage leadership and functional groups in process approach and risk based thinking concepts
  • Lead senior management in establishing/acknowledging strategic direction
  • Determine extent of documented information required by IMS Standards and aligned with strategic planning.
  • Develop documented information, train employees on IMS and roll it out.
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of IMS through internal audit, KPIs and management review.
  • Registrar conducts Stage 1 Audit.
  • Registrar conducts Stage 2 Audit.
  • Identify gaps and develop/implement continual improvement plan
Looking to certify your organization's IMS?

Contact JSA Inc. for questions related to your company’s IMS certification. Our proven and successful strategies can help you achieve IMS certification without any delays and hassles.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Check out answers to Frequently Asked Questions.

An integrated management system is more complex than a single management system because the skill sets required for an IMS are diverse. The complexity of an IMS depends on how many management systems are built into it. More single management systems integrated into an IMS mean more complexity and more rigorous skill sets required.

The most complex IMS would be an integration of QMS, EMS and OHSMS which will be based on ISO 9001, ISO 14001, and ISO 45001.

The statutory/regulatory requirements such product related, environmental and OHS are
incorporated into an IMS through applicable clauses of ISO 14001 and ISO 45001 Standards.

No. The management system conformance assures that a process is in place to achieve compliance.

IMS provides all requirements of single management systems in one document i.e. integrated operating procedure or work instructions. This eliminates expectations from employees to run around and gather information.

The majority of the organizations manage IMS using common management personnel for oversight such as Director and specific managers for individual management systems.

There are a number of factors that contribute to hesitation:

  • Complexity of IMS
  • Skill sets requirements
  • Initial time required to design IMS
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