With the depressed oil market and the general economic concerns affecting industry, commerce and government around the world it is an opportune time to look at how to make your organization more efficient and effective. Many organizations have invested in systems based on standards such as 9001 on quality and 14001 on environment, OHSAS 18001 occupational health and safety. Users of these standards should be aware that many standards requirements have changed, including ISO9001 and ISO14001, and organizations will have to adapt to take on what may appear, at first sight, more stringent requirements. These new requirements are unavoidable if you wish to maintain your certification to such standards.
These changes should not be seen as a threat; they should be seen as an opportunity for making your business systems reflect the way they actually work and to use them in line with good general risk management business practices.
Organizations have to adapt quickly to reflect the changing market in which they operate in order to survive and thrive. The new versions of the standards can certainly help in this respect. One of the key new requirements is to identify those issues which impact on the organization and its operating environment – the context in which it operates. These need to be identified both externally and internally and there will be a wide range of issues that should be considered including (but not limited to) political, supply chain, social issues, availability of resources both in material and human resource terms etc. The present volatility of the global oil price is a good example. Building up a picture and re-evaluating the context on a regular basis can help identify areas of current risk and emerging risk that need to be managed in a manner acceptable to the organization and its stakeholders.
The new management standards are much closer to the world of total quality management and the expectations of top management are very much greater than before although there is no absolute need for a top management representative. These requirements should ensure that management take a more active role and encourage good practice. It should also mean issues that could develop into significant problems are resolved quickly – before they become major issues.
The standards now have a common structure and align with risk management thinking. A significant advantage of the new approach is that the common structures facilitate integration of the requirements and significantly reduce the duplication, bureaucracy and the possibility of conflict. Those who have adopted ISO 9001 as a model can in effect use this as a business management model to:
- Improve customer focus
- Develop effective leadership
- Engage their people
- Streamline processes
- Demonstrate organizational improvement
- Make decisions based upon evidence
- Enhance relationships with customers and suppliers