What is a Management System? — Part 2

| May 9, 2007

Using a different approach, one can seek to determine what a management system is by examining the definitions penned by the individuals who drafted the ISO management system standards.

The ISO Definition of a “Management System”

ANSI/ISO/ASQ ISO Q9000-2000 defines a “management system” as follows — a system (separately defined as a set of interrelated or interacting elements) to establish policy and objectives and to achieve those objectives.  A “quality management system” is then defined as a management system to direct and control an organization with regard to quality.

ISO 14001:2004 defines a “management system” as a set of interrelated elements used to establish policy and objectives and to achieve those objectives and an “environmental management system” as follows — part of an organization’s management system used to develop and implement its environmental policy and manage its environmental aspects.

What is interesting about these ISO definitions is their explicit focus on defining a management system in terms of the task of “establishing policy and objectives”  (ISO 9000) or “developing and implementing a policy” (ISO 14001).  This focus on establishing and implementing policy is not part of any of the dictionary definitions for management.

The OHSAS 18001 Definition

OHSAS 18001:1999 defines an “OH&S management system” as follows — part of the overall management system that facilitates the management of the OH&S risks associated with the business of the organization.  With the 2007 revision of OHSAS 18001, the definition of an OH&S management system will be aligned with the ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 definitions to focus on developing and implementing policy.

Is the primary purpose of a management system to develop and implement policy?  What do you think?

Category: FAQ, Standards & Certification

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