What is an “Integrated Management System”?

An organisation may choose to operate components of it’s management systems in isolation or “integrate” them so that components share elements of the system. For example one business may operate entirely separate quality, safety and environmental management systems, whereas another might combine them within a single “integrated management system” (IMS).

How a business structures and implements its management systems is a logistical decision of that business.

Even within an IMS it is typical for some components to dominate different parts of the system.

Significant efficiencies can be gained through integration, particularly where the organisational structure or business practices share commonalities across multiple components. For example, a combined reporting system seems logical where the safety and environmental management disciplines have a common manager, but less-so if there is a manager for each discipline, possibly in different locations reporting to different senior managers.

Other common elements may typically include, but are not limited to:

  • Policy and commitment
  • Risk assessment
  • Document control
  • Inspection and auditing
  • Incident reporting and improvement
  • Induction and training

Integration is effective at achieving efficiencies; particularly avoiding duplication of management practices, and also reducing the number of processes that staff need to know and apply, but there is no right answer to the question “to integrate, or not to integrate?”


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