RSM’s contribution to management system standards shapes more than one million organisations

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has published a new version of the well-known international standards ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 that provide requirements for quality management systems and environmental management systems, respectively. The new common structure of these and other management system standards has been designed using input from Dr Henk de Vries, associate professor of standardisation at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM).

In 2014, 1,138,155 companies and other organisations had a certified quality management system based on the ISO 9001 standard, and 324,148 organisations had an ISO 14001-certified environmental management system. The new ISO 9001: 2015 Quality management systems - requirements helps ensure that customers get consistent, good quality products and services. And the new ISO 14001: 2015 Environmental management systems - requirements with guidance for use can provide assurance to company management and employees as well as external stakeholders that environmental impact is being measured and improved. The measures to achieve this prescribed by both standards are quite similar.

Aligning management standards

Many organisations use both standards and then may consider to combine and integrate the two management systems, for example when defining processes, training employees or internal auditing. The more the two standards are aligned, the easier this gets.

Meanwhile, even more management standards have been added to ISO’s portfolio, for example occupational health and safety management, energy management, information security management and business continuity management. “The better the alignment between these standards, the easier it will become to implement two or more of them,” said Dr Henk de Vries, who is also president of the European Academy for Standardization (EURAS).

International guidelines

Dr Henk de Vries and Dick Hortensius from the Netherlands Standardization Institute NEN thought about a common structure for management system standards about 20 years ago. Together, they wrote a discussion document which lead to an international guide on how to develop management system standards, entitled Guidelines for the justification and development of management system standards. Dr De Vries also wrote a scientific paper entitled Opportunities for Better Management Systems Standards in which he showed what a common structure for management system standards could look like.

Generic management system framework

More than a decade later, ISO decided to build on this work, and now a ‘high-level structure’ for management systems is available and applied in all new and revised management system standards. This framework is for a generic management system and the blueprint for all new and revised management system standards going forward. To address industry-specific needs, additional requirements for individual sectors can be added to this generic framework. The structure is not identical to the one initially proposed but the essence is the same. The revision of the standards will impact the more than one million organisations that have implemented one or more of these standards, and this number continues to grow year by year.

More information

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) is a top-tier European business school and ranked among the top three for research. RSM provides ground-breaking research and education furthering excellence in all aspects of management and is based in the international port city of Rotterdam – a vital nexus of business, logistics and trade. RSM’s primary focus is on developing business leaders with international careers who carry their innovative mindset into a sustainable future thanks to a first-class range of bachelor, master, MBA, PhD and executive programmes. RSM also has an office in Taipei, Taiwan.

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