Integrated management system with a common structure - the evolution
With the publication of the ISO 50001 energy management standard at the end of August 2018, the last of the big five ISO management system standards was also equipped with the High Level Structure (HLS). This basic structure also establishes uniform basic texts for the core requirements of management systems as well as common designations and basic definitions. In this way, different systems should merge more easily and become one integrated management system.
When the information security standard ISO 27001 appeared in 2013, it was the first of the more significant ISO standards to be based on HLS. However, it is only since the major revision of ISO 9001 (quality management) and ISO 14001 (environmental management) in 2015 that the common basic structure has become known to a wider range of users. In March 2018, ISO 45001 (occupational health and safety) was added, and in August 2018, ISO 50001 (energy management).
Today it can be said that with the common basic structure, the High Level Structure, an integrated management system is significantly more efficient. The innovations have proven their worth, and without reservation: organizations whose management system - for example, according to ISO 9001 - is built on the basis of the High Level Structure have a noticeable advantage in the integration and implementation of further, topic-specific requirements.
Advantages and benefits of the High Level Structure
The application of several standards in an integrated management system becomes much easier, for example in the combination of quality management and information security. This is especially true if the fundamental requirement of all applied sets of rules is met: namely, the full integration of the respective standard requirements into the existing management system and thus into the general business processes of a company.
Here is an overview of the main advantages:
- The uniform structure and the use of identical core texts, terms and definitions make it easier for users to understand a standard.
- Thanks to the standardization, further management systems can be integrated more quickly into an existing system; in most cases, ISO 9001 forms the starting point.
- With HLS, the introduction of several management systems, for example quality, environment, information security, becomes much simpler and more efficient. Duplication of work and effort in documentation are also reduced.
- With an integrated management system, audits (internal and external) can be carried out more easily, or according to several standards at the same time, and synergies can be used.
Does an integrated management system with a common structure have disadvantages?
Although the relevant management system standards ISO 9001, ISO 14001, ISO 27001 and ISO 50001 already had certain common features in terms of structure and content, it was not until HLS that a structure was created that makes it much easier, if not possible at all, to integrate the requirements of different sets of regulations right down to the last corners of a company. This is particularly evident in the case of occupational safety and health with the High Level Structure in ISO 45001.
If a company uses an integrated management system with a common structure, this does not result in any disadvantages - neither from the uniform structure nor from the terminology. There is also no requirement that the terminology must be used in the documented information of a company.