Management System Myths Busted!
Are You Ready to Bust Some Management System Myths!
True Or False?
I thought I'd share with you or talk about the myths of management systems.
As soon as I said Management Systems, I thought, well, hold on a second. What is a management system? I know we sprout off about, management system this and management system that. But what on the earth is a management system?
This is the first thing that we have to wrap our heads around because I think as auditors or consultants or those that build and maintain these management systems, we take that a bit lightly.
So, you know, what does it actually mean?
I actually do this in my classroom training by getting everyone together and asking them to write down their thoughts.
It's not anything scary or, or hard to achieve. It's really a collection of the systems and processes and forms and checklists that you follow or that you maintain, or that you have developed within your own business.
It's what you do day-to-day. What tools do you use? What resources do you use? What policies, what procedures do you follow? What are the steps that you follow? All of this combines to be your management system.
Now, I know when we use the word management system, it normally is aligned to an ISO standard, this actually brings me to my first myth.
Myth One - You Have to Be Certified When You Have a Management System.
The short answer is – NO, you don’t.
You can create, develop and implement your management system to align with any ISO standard and not have to be certified. For example, let’s use ISO 9001 as an example. You can develop an ISO 9001 management system that meets the requirements of the standard; however, you don't have to be certified.
ISO 9001 standalone is such a great tool to use, to develop a system for your business that helps you to improve, helps your business to improve.
Now I get it. Most people out there implement, build and maintain an ISO 9001 management system. Remember it can be any management system, it can be ISO 45001 for OH&S. I'm just using ISO 9001 as a single example.
Most people do implement these management systems to become certified because their clients are requesting it or asking for it, but it's something that businesses choose to do. It's not mandatory.
We have systems in place here at Auditor Training Online (ATOL) because it's good to do. It's good business and it makes sense as it provides a great benchmark to follow.
Myth Two - You Have to Be One of These Huge Tier 1 Businesses to Implement a System.
Absolutely not! The smallest system I have built for a company had one person. The director, the owner - that's it. He implemented a quality management system for certification because it was a requirement to tender for some work. So one single person operated company.
This was quite a few years ago that I built this, however more recently a consultant that I work with, actually just had a business certified just last week, a demolition business.
And guess what?
One person, one single owner, and an operator.
You do not need to be this tier one huge BHP company or Rio Tinto to have certification. You can be a one-man band and it still fits in. This is the great thing with management systems, with the ISO standards, they are so flexible that they fit in for different size businesses.
Myth Three - You Have to Have a Lot of Documentation.
Let me think about this …. this probably used to be the case. Some older systems that I've seen over the years seem to have been built based on people getting paid by the amount of paper that was used or how heavy the folders were when you smashed them on the desk.
Nowadays though, honestly, it's not really the case. There are requirements for documented information, however, you will find that the majority is for evidence and for records.
The standards talk about maintaining documented information, which are procedures - how to do things, and then it talks about retaining documented information, which is all about evidence. So really, it's all about just backing yourself up. If you say you do something, be sure that you've got some evidence to demonstrate that you are doing it.
The amount of documentation you have will differ dependent on the size of the organization - the number of employees. So obviously those one-man band that I talked about previously for certification, they will not need as much documentation as a company that has a dozen people working for them, or then another company that has say a hundred and so on. The bigger the organization, you will find that more documentation is required.
Why? Because it's a control, isn't it?
Documentation is a control element. It helps a business to consistently provide the same service to a customer, consistently keep its people safe, consistently mitigate and manage any environmental impacts.
Obviously, if there's only one person in the company. The need for that control is much less than if many people are doing the same or similar tasks. You will find that the larger the organization more than likely the more documentation there is because it's a control.
Which sort of leads me to where I was heading initially… keep it simple.
I see so many businesses that over document and duplicate. I will see the same thing documented in 2, 3, 4 different places or different things are said in 2, 3, 4 different places for the same process. They contradict each other. Keep it simple and streamlined.
I find a lot of businesses can be over the top with their documentation at first, then start streamlining it when they start actively using the system. They can see where things can be streamlined and trimmed back.
Don’t stress if your system is a little over the top right now, it is a natural thing to do.
We do it here at ATOL, we have all these great ideas, and what we do, or document ends up being quite complex. So, once we start following the process, we might realise that it’s not quite working and it’s too complicated.
To me, it’s a natural process. That's continual improvement, right?
Myth Four - It's Hard to Do
I’ve heard this often - it's hard to implement these management systems and it's hard to maintain them.
What's my answer to that? Yep, I agree if you have built a monster system.
This is when it is a challenge for some people. If you've built a system that is way too big for your business, that is confusing, your people will not use it.
So don't blame the people, look at the system. You need to keep it simple, agile, flexible so that you can implement changes quickly and easily.
I have worked for some businesses in the past and to get anything to change takes weeks or months. If this happens at ATOL it is very frustrating for me! I just want to change a process. It shouldn't be this hard and if you find yourself in that position, your system needs to be streamlined as I mentioned earlier.
And going along those lines as well, when you build your management system, it's not something that just sits in the corner and gathers dust or has a mind of its own over in the corner. It is meant to integrate with your day-to-day business processes.
It's just the way you do business. It's not ‘this is the quality system’, ‘This is how we do it for quality’ or ‘this is the OH&S system so that’s not my responsibility.’ ‘That's over in the corner there’.
The processes, the steps that you follow for any of these standards within your management system should simply be integrated into what you do every day. Your workers should not even know what they are doing is something to do with an ISO standard. It should be more like ‘this is what we do here’. ‘We have this great system’ and ‘our company looks after us and makes sure that we do go home safe’. This is the process that we follow.
If you're building a system, if you're a consultant for the company that you're building the system for don't get stressed if it's not like that first up. Remember that is continual improvement, as I mentioned before.
If you've got to get something out there to start with, then as you start using it, it will be this great process of continual improvement.
As I said, keep your system, flexible and agile so you can make these changes and involve people in the process.
When I say people, the workers that are actually doing it as normally they know the better way for it to be done.
I hope that helped bust some of those myths.
If you've heard any other myths out there or have any questions about management systems, please let me know by commenting below.
I'm only too happy to give you my point of view, my opinion based on my experience with what I've seen.