What is an Integrated Management System?
An IMS, or Integrated Management System, is a system that integrates all of an organisation’s systems and processes into one complete framework. These are not separate systems joined together; instead they are an integrated management system with linkages so that similar processes can be managed seamlessly and performed without duplication. The purpose of an Integrated Management System is to streamline similar processes to allow the organisation to work as a single unit with unified objectives and thereby better meet the needs of the business and its management and operations.
According to ISO, “a management system describes the set of procedures an organization needs to follow in order to meet its objectives”. An IMS combines all the related components of a business into one system for easier management and operations. Quality (QMS), Environmental (EMS), Energy (EnMS) and Safety management systems (OHSMS) are often combined and managed as an IMS. These may include:
Quality Management Systems:
- ISO 9001:2015
- ISO 13485:2016 (Medical Devices)
- ISO 22000:2018 (Food Safety Management)
Environmental Management Systems:
- ISO 14001:2015
Occupational Health and Safety:
- ISO 45001:2018
Energy Management Systems:
- ISO 50001:2018
There are several components common to all these systems, namely processes (documented in the QMS/EMS/OHSMS and applied throughout the business) and resources (people, facilities and equipment). The publication of ISO’s Annex SL, which prescribes a standardised base structure and common text for all new management system standards, further simplifies the implementation of multiple management system standards within an organisation.
The implementation of an IMS boasts several noteworthy benefits for SME’s and larger corporations alike, including performance improvements, eliminating redundancies, establishing consistency and reducing bureaucracy. An IMS provides a clear, uniform image of your entire organisation, how systems impact one another and the associated risks.
So, how is an IMS audited? With the exception of high-risk standards like IATF 16949 Automotive management systems, and depending on whether the management system is fully, mostly or partially integrated, the auditing of an IMS may result in savings of up to 20% of audit timing (mandays). Note that integrated audits occur when audit teams audit a single system that incorporates all the requirements of different standards and not when different systems are audited simultaneously. All the audit team members on integrated audits must also be skilled in all the standards for which certification of the management system is required.