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A Business Management System Development – Revolution or Evolution?

John Mills, Head of QHSE, Compliance, Assurance and Risk at Nomad Digital reviews the evolution of systems and discusses whether revolution or evolution is the best approach.

In today’s world we see a boom of many small companies from early on after their inception ploughing ahead in building their BMS, IMS, QMS or SMS system. They contextualise it for their business needs and some can scope it quickly to have it in place and tick it off the list, whilst others take time to develop their systems incrementally.

But where did it all begin?

Let’s review the evolution of systems and discuss whether revolution or evolution is the best approach.

The old school

The older organisations out there didn’t have a published formal framework to utilise until the ISO 9000 series came about in 1987 (and for those old enough) before this, it was of course the BS5750 standard that set the pathway for all (soon after replaced by the ISO series). Organisations very much followed their own initiative in isolation, and, without an integrated approach, they often perhaps encountered overlapping, overspending and over resourcing in some key areas even without realising. It’s clear to see the ISO series have brought in fantastic business benefits and have a real business purpose behind them to support continuous improvement with how an organisation operates.  Since then, over the decades, the standard and its close family of other standards have been revised several times and continue to evolve. These provide a clear framework for organisations to work to alongside the other key standards we also aspire to as organisations including: ISO 14001, 22301, 27001 and 45001.

Revolution style

Companies must take caution when building and integrating systems as an Integrated Management System (IMS) or Business Management System (BMS) styled approach. It takes years to build correctly and not something that should be a quick solution to fulfil external audits. External consultants can help to bridge the gap by entering the organisation to develop fantastic process maps, policies and guidance documents, however when they leave or finish their consultancy period, questions arise: Going forward who operates the compliance on that process or document? Who ensures it evolves with the business? Who is your Assurance or Compliance team and will it survive the long haul?

The risk with this approach is known as a ‘revolution’ style, where the BMS or IMS is not fully appreciative or inclusive of the organisation’s people and ways of working. It has been created based on an assumption made at a point in time of how the business should work or interact to satisfy ISO requirements rather than reflect how the business actually works in reality.

The system developed must be tailored to the organisation, and not only to satisfy the ISO clause requirements. Too often a ‘signpost manual’ or step by step ‘ISO reference manual’ is created and cast as the final system to highlight how and where the company complies with, but will this be suitable for the organisation to be able to deliver the fully functioning and comprehensive system that it needs?

Other risks can present themselves where those systems aren’t fully inclusive of all aspects of the organisation, as some can often be deemed not necessary, relevant, or applicable to all organisations. Not fully including all aspects of the organisation can lead to disjointing and the system in place can be limited, incomplete and selective in what it includes. ISO 9001 is inclusive of all departments; a system really is everyone and everything a business has, all are critical in their own right.

Hand connection digital

The Evolution approach

A system takes time, investment from people, and like the earth or any environment, needs evolution to take its form and make change slowly and steadily. Of course many companies will, from inception, create a system to take them forward, be that ‘go-to’ for all, but the key message is to ensure that the system builds incrementally, and is fully inclusive of the entire business operations. This provides the opportunity for everyone to embrace the system and have a pivotal place within to contribute.

As technology and the reliance on software applications and systems only increases, business systems will need to adapt, account for frequent improvements and recognise the slick systems and paperless choices we now have available to capture compliance and business operations, yet still keep a loop around them within the organisation remit and scope. COVID-19, remote working and a global spread of people and operations now adds to the diversity and complexity of what systems need to cover.

Do the people know what they need to know?

Many organisations share the importance of their people, how they are so critical to the company and that they are imperative to ‘getting it right’, ‘doing it right’ and ‘right first time’. But what lies behind this in terms of supporting them with a system approach? The correct documentation and processes so that they have the toolkit to achieve? Do the higher levels of an organisation know their system? Is time spent to navigate and get to know their system? Does the whole organisation use the system? The people knowledge of a system is one of the most important factors in the success of an organisation wide system, be it revolution or evolution, but is often the hardest ‘nut to crack’. Sufficient effort and resources must be invested by an organisation to ensure the system is given the platform and allocated time it needs to deliver its objectives and purpose for all. The true success is commitment, inclusion and adoption from everyone.

Revolution or evolution? The choice is yours.

Connecting digitally in hand

At Nomad Digital, our Compliance team consists of QHSE, Information Security & Rail Engineering Compliance elements to ensure the team support and govern all of Nomad’s operations and processes for continuous improvement and governance. We work together to support and grow our business management system and ensure we drive quality improvement through our ‘Golden Rules of Quality’. The Nomad Digital Business Management system (BMS) is fully integrated and certified to ISO 9001, IS0 14001, ISO 27001 & ISO 45001. Read more about our recent recertification to ISO 9001, 14001 and 45001 here: