Will an incremental approach to phasing in EHSQ integrated management systems yield benefits?
The greatest benefits from EHSQ integrated management systems arise when documentation structure, support processes, strategic processes and audit practices are harmonized across the functional areas. But this is a huge job, and even if your organization is committed to more strategic EHSQ management, it will take months or years to fully realize the vision.
Will an incremental approach still yield benefits? The answer is a resounding yes.
In 2014, Abad et al. surveyed 102 organizations to find out whether the degree of IMS integration impacted the potential benefits (including reduced overhead costs, reduced bureaucracy, and greater resource utilization). Seventy-seven percent of these organizations had unified all their EHSQ processes, while 4 percent had integrated quality and environmental management, and 2.5 percent had integrated quality with health and safety. They were classified in terms of the degree to which they had achieved integration across more than one EHSQ functional area:
- Document harmonization: Document structure is consistent across each of the EHSQ functional areas and accommodates processes in all areas.
- Partial integration: Document structure is harmonized with support processes, strategic processes, or audit approach, but not all three.
- Full integration: Documentation structure, support processes, strategic processes, and audit approach are all harmonized.
For the largest enterprises, document harmonization was observed most frequently as a strategy as compared to smaller organizations. Survey results illustrated that for organizations that achieved document harmonization, main benefits were increased competency of workers, greater optimization of resources and reduced bureaucracy. When partial integration was accomplished, main benefits were optimization of resources, improved external image, improved internal communication and improved ability to deploy resources. For organizations with full integration of their EHSQ processes and systems, primary benefits were optimization of resources, improved internal communication, reduction in bureaucracy and significantly reduced audit costs.
In all cases, benefits were reported to be greater as the degree of integration increased. Bernardo et al. (2009) found out that the order of IMS integration, and the approach to change management during the integration process, also impacted success. The best outcomes were reported at smaller companies that integrated their management systems as a dedicated project, rather than relying on gradual evolution.
Abad, J., Dalmau, I., & Vilajosana, J. (2014). Taxonomic proposal for integration levels of management systems based on empirical evidence and derived corporate benefits. Journal of Cleaner Production, 78, 164-173.
Alouche, P. (2017, Feb 22). 6 Reasons Why Quality Professionals Support Integrated Management Systems. Intelex Blog. Available from https://blog.intelex.com/2017/02/22/6-reasons-quality-professionals-support-integrated-management-systems/
Bernardo, M., Casadesus, M., Karapetrovic, S., & Heras, I. (2009). How integrated are environmental, quality and other standardized management systems? An empirical study. Journal of Cleaner Production, 17(8): 742–750
About the Author: Nicole Radziwill is the Vice President, Global Practice Leader, Quality & Supply Chain at Intelex Technologies. Before Intelex, she was an Associate Professor of Data Science and Production Systems, Assistant Director (VP) End-to-End Operations at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), and manager and consultant for several other organizations since the late 1990's bringing quality management to technologically-oriented operations. She is a Fellow of the American Society for Quality (ASQ) with a Ph.D. in Quality Systems from Indiana State University. Nicole serves as Editor of Software Quality Professional (SQP) journal and is a former Chair of the ASQ Software Division. She is an ASQ Certified Manager of Quality and Organizational Excellence (CMQ/OE) and Certified Six Sigma Black Belt (CSSBB).
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