System Integration

System Integration

  • Date: Wednesday 19th July 2017
  • PDF: Download

Integration in ISO terms can be said to have two core meanings:


  •         The integration of a management system into core business processes
  •          The integration of one management system into another management system, forming a single system covering more than one application (e.g. H&S, Environment, Quality)


The hunt for “synergy”

Synergy can be defined as “the interaction of elements that when combined produce an effect that is greater than the total of the sum of the individual elements”. 

Modern ISO standards introduce a more explicit clause requirement to analyse and merge what is done for H&S, Environment or Quality management into the existing core business processes of the organisation – something not often seen done effectively, sadly resulting in duplication and missed opportunities.  It is this that often makes some people think they “now have yet more work to do”.


Tartan Fabric, not Plywood

If H&S, Environmental and Quality management are ‘woven into the fabric of what we do’ then buy-in and effectiveness increase without additional burdens or workload.

A good analogy of this is that organisations should be aiming for a nice tartan fabric, with the colours of H&S, Environment and Quality all woven in together and forming a single, strong garment.  If these things are managed as a ‘bolt-on’ then you tend to see more of a ‘plywood’ effect, where important parts are all too easy to tear off if enough force is applied.

A well-built, effective management system should be a standard part of what everyone does, day in, day out.  It should often operate without staff even knowing about it, and should place very little in the way of additional burdens on an organisation.


Integration with other management systems

Perhaps you’re in the situation where you already have certification to one management system standard and you would like to be certified to another.  Integration is once again critical for a lean, successful outcome or the risk of duplication or even conflict may ensue.

Modern ISO standards offer more help with integration than in previous years, as they have now been built around a standard, common framework from Annex SL.  This means that the core clauses are the same in all new standards, so merging additional elements into them is easier than ever.

In some cases around 60% of a standard may already be in place in the initial system, so the effort in setting up the additional elements is already far less than the original system, provided the integration process is managed carefully. 

For example, the way that internal audits are planned, tracked and conducted might already be in place for an existing ISO 9001 system.  An organisation wanting to add certification to ISO 14001 might simply need to amend this existing process to include the additional audits for the environment, upskill the auditors and carry on as before.


If you would like help with implementing your management system into your organisation’s core business processes, or would like advice or support on adding an additional certification to an existing management system please contact the SSG team.


Source: Chris Prior, SSG

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